In September 2001, my wife and son for the first time picked grapes to make jelly from the venerable vine that crawls all over our modest backyard arbor. We had been coaxing the vine back to health for a couple of years before we got a large enough yield. In fact, they harvested the grapes the weekend following 9/11, which is why I call it our “9/11 vine” even though it’s been in the ground for decades.
This year the grapes turned deep purple more than a week ago, as early as I ever remember them ripening. I don’t know if the extra hot weather this summer speeded up the schedule, but that’s probably the cause. We let the vine go for a couple of years after our Portuguese-American friend Tony stopped coming over to clip the vine to get it ready for the next season. A colleague from work, John, came over with his brother this spring and clipped and snipped in a knowing way, which brought the vine back into production. John said it will take a couple of years to return to where we were with lots of grapes, but the crop this year is promising. I haven’t walked in Back Central for several weeks—the arbors there must be all weighted with deep purple.