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No corsets wholesale gripes over October grapes

Hong Ming Xi Xi | Tuesday 14 November 2017 ( 0 Comment)
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In this year of climatic uncertainty, there is corsets wholesale much to be thankful for here in the American Heartland. Canada geese honk overhead, dry leaves crunch underfoot and fat clusters of grapes in local vineyards grow sweeter by the day.

Locally, long gown dress nighttime temperatures dip into the 40s and daytime highs peak in the low 70s - perfect grape-picking conditions. Tragically, in California's Sonoma and Napa Valley where the grape harvest was underway, deadly wind-blown fires have taken more than 40 lives and destroyed property across the region.

Two weeks ago, our friends Orion and Barbara Beckmeyer called to say the sugar content in his Norton grapes was perfect for picking and could we help harvest them - a task that had to be accomplished in a single day. The Beckmeyers grow the Norton/Cynthiana grape - a late-ripening, dark purple Missouri native - designated as the Missouri state grape by former Gov. Bob Holden in 2003. They also grow Chambourcin, Traminette and Chardonel varieties.

When Sunday arrived, Kit jdfhggfhk and I rose early, dressed and walked outdoors into the still dark yard with a morning coffee. No time to leisurely watch the sunrise that morning. We would greet the sun instead as we headed down Route A toward the Beckmeyer Vineyard, beautifully situated on a south-facing slope of the Hartsburg hills.

Picking already was underway when we arrived. Moving along the rows on four-wheelers, a crew of workers distributed plastic buckets along the acres of vine rows and collected them once they were brimming with grapes. Pickers included neighbors, relatives, and a network from Peace Church and the Hartsburg community. FFA students and Foods Resource Bank (FRB) volunteers earned dollars for their organizations based on the number of buckets they filled. By late afternoon, flatbed trailers loaded with huge bins of Norton grapes and machine picked Chambourcin grapes departed for Les Bourgeois Vineyards near Rocheport.

A week later, we stopped by the Beckmeyer's home and headed for Orion's wine cellar where he crushes, ages and bottles a portion of his grape crop to be enjoyed by his family and friends throughout the year. He also gives bottles of his wine to friends in exchange for a cash donation to the FRB-an organization whose international development mission is helping poor communities achieve food security. While there, we inspected Orion's new hand-cranked crusher/destemmer equipment-perfect for the home vintner processing small batches of wine grapes-and sampled his Norton/Chambourcin blend from last year's harvest.

Two days later, I read an account of the still raging fires in the Napa Valley region of California's wine country in the Los Angeles Times (10/16/17). Cindy Carcamao reported that crews had picked Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at night at the Slinson Vineyard while fires blazed nearby. Just 10 miles west of the vineyard, the Nuns fire had already burned more than 46,000 acres, and to the east, the Atlas fire more than 50,000 acres.

Fortunately, while some winery structures were destroyed or damaged, most of the vineyards survived. That night, 10% of the valley's grapes still needed to be picked by the skeleton crews that still remained. Many of the immigrant workers who provide essential labor during the picking season had lost everything. Their homes and trailers were among the structures that had burned down. Few if any had fire insurance.

The article's headline brought home the story of the Napa Valley workers who harvested the last fruits of the season by night as fires roared nearby-"Despite the inferno, grapes must be picked." The spirit of this region's people despite the state's devastating October fires reminds me of how the people of Hartsburg found an inner strength to endure and rebuild after the epic Midwest floods of 1993 and 1995. California's people and wine region will survive and rebuild, and their vineyards will once again produce glorious grapes, just as vineyards across the Heartland did this year.

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