Hot Summer, Early Grapes

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.

4 Responses to Hot Summer, Early Grapes

  1. Kosta says:

    This is interesting. I have a grape arbor and also have no idea about how to train the vines for neatness and productivity. I assume that others are likewise. if you arrange for a workshop on vine care, and/or grape jelly making, I’ll be the first to sign up. :) — a step for a flowering city.

  2. PaulM says:

    Good idea. I will contact my Portuguese-American pals who are experts, and ask if they would be willing to do a workshop. As for the kind of grapes, I’m not sure. I assumed Concord grapes because of where we are, but I’m not sure. When I looked up Portuguese wine-making on the web, I found info on many different kinds of grapes that are used. I am in or on the border of the Back Central neighborhood, where the yards and driveways are covered with grape vines, so the vine may have come from one of the Portuguese immigrants. I don’t kow the source. It was planted for an arbor, so it’s not wild. The grapes are red grapes, generically, but that’s all I know. I picture Concord grapes as more bluish purple than red purple. The jelly tasted like grape jelly, but not as strong in flavor or sweet as store-bought, of course.

  3. PaulM says:

    I was in Pawtucketville at a backyard bbq on Crawford Street this evening and looked over a fence along the side yard to see a neighbor’s sprawling grapevine. Most of the grapes were still green. A few were ripe, and some leaves were turning yellow. My host pointed out the heavy shade from trees and the cheek-by-jowl houses on three sides.

  4. PaulM says:

    From the Associated Press via

    “… Preliminary figures provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University on Friday show 28 cities from Washington, D.C., to Caribou, Maine, set record highs for average temperature from March through August.

    “A large swath of the country sweltered in early August, when scorching temperatures and high humidity made it feel like at least 100 degrees in many places and prompted heat advisories for 18 states. While unrelenting heat is the norm in the Deep South, it’s unusual in places like Burlington, Vt., and Portland, Maine, which saw their hottest spring and summer in more than a century.

    “The temperatures are consistent with a global pattern of severe heat-related weather this summer. Meteorologists say 17 nations have recorded all-time-high temperatures this year, more than in any other year. …”