Giddy for garden grapes

Excuse me. I have to go wash my feet. This may be my first and last chance to stomp grapes.

My spouse planted grape vines in our backyard a few years ago, and they seem to thrive. Well, the vines thrive, winding around overhangs and tree branches, but the grape output has been sparse. I didn’t care. With or without grapes, the vines looked lovely, green and really cool.

The first year we had about three small bunches. The birds enjoyed them. I rather lost track after that, but there wasn’t much grape production that I was aware of. This year, spouse insisted we had lots of grapes out there. I nodded and smiled. The things he plants are always some odd cultivar that he chooses after copious research. They rarely taste good or are things I fancy or want to go to the fuss to prepare. The spiders and flotsam that end up on my table, along with any produce from our organic yard, are also off-putting.

I generally get away with ignoring the handfuls of figs; teeny, tiny artichokes; unfamiliar apples, cherimoyas and pomegranates, but I am ready to taste the grapes this year. These are even seedless.

I have clearly seen too many Lucille Ball reruns, because the first thing that jumped into my head when I saw the bountiful basket, full to the brim with dark purple grapes, was that they needed stomping. The idea just made me laugh. I know how much work it is to actually make wine, so my brain didn’t go there — just the stomping part. We won’t, of course, do that, but I am toying with running them through the juicer. No spiders survive juicing.

I really hope they are going to be delicious. Of course, if grapes are ripening in our yard, they are likely ripening in table-grape vineyards throughout the state. I am told the season in the San Joaquin Valley is about to kick off.

Fingers crossed that our backyard bumper crop signals similar success statewide. I’d rather nosh than stomp.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who did not ignore the tomatoes and zucchini from that same backyard garden, despite the spiders.

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