For as long as I can remember, we’ve had this grapevine in our garden.
It was planted just outside of my bedroom window, and I remember the continuous hustle and bustle around this plant. In winter it needed to be pruned. In early summer it needed to be dusted with sulphur dioxide. And by mid summer the battle between humans and birds would start – both sides watching each other (like hawks!) with beady eyes as the race to harvest the most ripe berries began.
I even tried to make wine from the grapes when I was 8 years old. There must have just watched a documentary, because I knew that grapes + sugar = wine. Now that I know about ambient yeasts, little me wasn’t wrong. But my father helped things along by suggesting the addition of yeast. Needless to say, it was disgusting! Probably a good thing that it was so bad, because 8 was maybe a little too young to develop a taste for wine.
My absolute favourite time was in late autumn when the last grapes would turn golden brown, and we’d delight in scavenging the last sweet, raisined berries. I think this is where my love of dessert wines began.
I moved back home a few years ago…and realised that the vine was still there…still producing shoots, leaves and even healthy bunches of grapes. I also realised, by observing the way the trunk was positioned and by which plants and building structures surrounded her, that this vine is probably as I am.
It’s strange and wondrous to compare this vine’s life alongside my own. She’s seen so much change in our home yet, much remains the same. She sometimes looks a little bit worse for wear, but then comes back to life with some sunshine. She’s been left to do her own thing for the past decade, but she’s still producing fruit. She can be a pain in the bum, but no way in fuck is anyone going to cut her down. She’s a good vine.
I’ve spent so much of my life with this grapevine but I don’t even know her name. So I’ve just thought of a 2020 goal – figure out what type of vine this is. Ampelography, here we come!