Monday, September 8, 2008

Grape Stomping -- Le Vendange Chez Ramsey!

Today's Wonder of the World is...Muscadine Grapes! Our Own Vendange (Grape Harvest) Has Begun!

Do you know about the wonders of muscadine grapes? If you're from around here you probably do! I hate to say it, but muscadines used to repulse me with their tough, thick hulls, their musky, peppery scent, and their green, mucous- like texture. Yum yum.
But when my husband started our own little vineyard in the backyard, I soon fell in love.
I became a muscadine evangelist!
They're really better than they sound.

Here's a look at the vineyard chez Ramseys.

See, they're ready a little early this year.

Muscadines don't grow in clusters like normal grapes. Being from South Carolina, they're a bit rebellious. Muscadines don't like anyone telling them what to do.

About a week ago, Todd started picking them and bringing in buckets full.
"It's almost time," he said. "I'll need plenty of counter space on Saturday."
I knew what that meant.
It was time to make the wine.

The first time Todd turned my house into a brewery, I felt a little... weird. After all, the only grape drink Baptist girls like me usually enjoyed was the thimble full of Welch's grape juice at communion! But over the years, I've learned to appreciate the grape in all its forms as a delicious treasure--and blessing! This weekend, wine, next weekend, jelly!

Here are the stages of turning grapes to wine...
Pick the grapes and wash them.

Tanner is curious.

No no, Tanner. Remember what grapes do to you?
Oh yeah, that's right. You have a little doggy brain. You won't remember eating grapes just like you won't remember eating Sam's Sponge Bob Square Pants, my tin jewelry box, complete with red velvet interior, that my daddy brought me back from Colorado when I was little, and Todd's tub of spackling paste.
Grapes make you sick. And your head gets twice as big.
Don't worry. We won't let that happen again.

Voila! All clean.
Now it's time to squish them!

Todd and I wanted to make the stomping a family event. We planned to play music from Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain and stomp, stomp, stomp away. (Sorry, French accent police, I still can't get the accents to work on Blogger.)

The boys said, "Are you kidding? No way! That's weird!"

Then they begged us to please do our stomping inside, instead of putting on a show for all their friends to see.

No problem. It would have taken an extra half hour to get their stinky boy feet clean anyway. We did it in the kitchen and turned up the music!

Ooh. It actually felt kind of nice!

Tanner wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Here's me as Lucille Ball.

Except I didn't end up wrestling an Italian lady in a giant vat of grapes!

Here's the finished product.

Did you know that grape stomping is a perfect way to extract the juice because it doesn't crush the bitter seeds? It's true.
Plus my feet are now baby bottom soft!

Next, Todd put in a chemical to kill the natural yeast, added the French yeast, and gathered the hulls in a bag to soak in the juice, thereby giving the wine a red color and intensifying its taste.

And then he added a ridiculous amount of sugar and some water.
Now we let it sit and do its magic!

I'll let you know how it turns out!
Here's to you, my friends!
Before you go, enjoy Lucy's try at stomping the grape! If you're short on time, start it half way through.

Have a Wonder-full Monday, y'all!
Love, Becky


Barb said...

Oh Becky,

I LOVE IT! You needed to have a long skirt on for your stomping though.

Very exciting. How long does it have to sit? I can't wait to hear how it turned out.

That Lucy clip was always one of my favorites. What a perfect way to start my day.

take good care and don't sneak any wine yet.


Anonymous said...


what a perfect way to end this post;-)

Jamie said...

Wow, looks great! I'm interested to see how it turns out!

Rosemary said...

Isn't it funny, that the first thing you think of is that Lucy episode. Looks and sounds like fun Becky!!
Thanks for sharing!

Suzie said...

YOU ARE TOO SKINNY!!!!! Arghhhh!!!! Can I have some wine now!

Anonymous said...

Hi Becky,
Oh how this post brought back memories from the days my dad grew muscadines in our back yard. I, personally , could not stand the texture and when he spit out the hulls it absolutely grossed me out. He would eat them in the car on trips and leave the hulls in a plastic Carolina stadium cup and whenever I drove his car I was greeted with old spit-out muscadine hulls and occasionally another cup of old chewing tobacco juice.! Anywho, my sis who lives in the Lyncburg area of Virginia grows muscadines and she makes the most delicious jam with them. Muscadines also have the highest in antioxidents, so you do not have to feel guilty for drinking wine made from them or eating all of that wonderful jam. If you want her recipe, I will be happy to ask her for it and send it to you. I would hate for you to miss out on it. She says it is hard work but it is worth it. Tammy Whitley

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Wow--that's a real endeavor! I am so impressed. And I also love me some Lucy.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Hey Barb, I thought about the skirt, but I didn't have one with the peasant look. I can't remember how long it has to sit- I'll have to ask Todd. But I tell you, it has my house smelling like a real brewery! I can't decide whether I like the scent or not!

Candy, isn't Lucy great. I love that clip!

Hi Jamie, I'll post a pic of the final product!

Rosemary, when Todd told me it was time to do the stomping, she was the first thing I thought of. It's too bad they don't play I Love Lucy anymore. I wish my kids could see it.

Suzie, YOU MADE MY DAY! I was feeling a little self conscious, having that picture out for all to see. Thanks!

Tammy, I'd love the recipe! Todd made some years ago and it did not turn out well at all. He says he doesn't remember it, but I think he blocked it from his memory. (Picture gummy paste with grape hulls in it. Yuck.)

Hi Green Girl. It's Todd's idea. He has so many grapes that we're going to be swimming in them for a month or so.

Carrie Harris said...

This post made me smile. And yeah, the minute you said wine, I immediately thought Lucy. :)

LW said...

Oh, I love grapes and wine but I have developed an allergy to grapes …
Your little vine yard is lovely..
and your little wine dance looks like fun...


adrienne said...

When my kids were teeny we tried grape stomping at a local festival, and ended up on the evening news. When a reporter asked my daughter if she'd like to taste the juice, she responded - "'s made with stinky feet."

Susan Sandmore said...

I hope your grape-stomping didn't end the way Lucy's did! I can see you wrestling with Tanner...

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Did your feet turn purple???

There used to be muscadine vines crawling all over and around my childhood. I don't know where any are anymore. They do serve muscadine ice cream at a garden restaurant in middle Georgia and it's wonderful!

Karen K. Kennedy said...

You reckon we could grow some muscadines in Georgia? That looks like so much fun!

May Vanderbilt said...

OMG! File this under Projects I Would Do If I Could Afford a Yard In San Francisco #456

You know...I make cheese. We could set up a little swaperoo.

Only...after the wedding. I haven't been curdling milk lately. Too bogged down with wedding errands!

LOVE this post.

Cindy said...

Becky, My husband picked grapes in Napa this weekend (while I was at the East of Eden writing conference) with our neighbor who makes his own wine--and very delicious wine it is, too!
Your golden is adorable...we have one, too. Right now, he's sacked out on our bed...nothing too good for Jake. We love him SO much. He's one special baby!

Jojo said...

Meant to be friends??? I consider us the best of blog friends!!! Don't laugh but my sister and I have had so much fun visiting the grape stomping at Red Barn Vineyards in Tennessee. It is a wonderful festival and they elect a Grape Stompin' Queen. I am not much on sweet wines but their Red Neck Wine is delicious in the summer.

Since there were no other competitors in this year's grape stompin', you are officially the Grape Stompin' Queen!!!!

Felicity said...

I was going to say, how romantic, but the sight of the grape mush isn't so lovely. : ) But it does look like fun!

Sherry Martschink said...

I've always thought the episode of Lucy that involve grape-stomping is absolutely wonderful!

I love muscadines -- and whatever ends up being white wine. My favorties are Reislings but there are many others I really enjoy, stomped or not.



Rebecca Ramsey said...

Hey people!
To answer some questions from your lovely comments...
Susan, no wrestling at my house. Not in the grapes anyway! Tanner was willing, but I didn't want to have to clean grape gook out of the cracks of my wood floor.

Nope, Pamela, my feet didn't turn purple. Muscadines don't do that to skin. But I did have a little ankle bracelet of stickiness that I had to scrub to chase off! And muscadine ice cream! Oh my goodness! My hubby loves to make ice cream too. (and all sorts of impractical foods :) I can see it in my future!

Karen K., sure! In fact I believe Todd bought his vines from a company in Ty Ty, Georgia. I'll check to make sure.

May, I have no idea how you get so much done, not even counting your upcoming wedding. But I'm up for the switcheroo whenever you're ready! Homemade cheese...yum!

Jojo, of course we're good blogging buddies! It's just not everyday that someone proclaims a love for ex votos! It's always fun to find out even more things we have in common!

Janet, what sweet landlords! It's such a treat for kids to have neighbors who love them!

Life on Bonnie Lane said...

I have to say that the stomped grapes did not look at all like I expected they would! Still must have been so much fun to stomp the grapes. Rofl, love the statement that it made your feet baby soft. I think that's a great solution...stomp grapes, get soft feet, and then get a glass of wine!

It will be fun to hear how it all turned out.


Jontih Enggihon said...

any update for the wine? :)

-Jon, Malaysia.