Monday, February 27, 2012

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

We love local food, but we also love traveling and partaking in new experiences.  Chris and I traveled to Italy three years ago and had an incredible culinary and cultural experience there.  

Here we are outside The Roman Coliseum.

In Italy, the grape vines and countryside are breathtaking.  I snapped this picture of an Italian farmer tilling his grapes.  Because I grew up on a Kansas wheat farm, I found the Italian method of weed control interesting and familiar.

As I looked through our Italy pictures I wanted to do a whole food post for you, like I did when we went to Hawaii, but that will have to wait for another time.  For now, most of this post will focus on an Italian experience we found right here in Kansas!

What I never expected is that I would harvest grapes not in Italy, but right here in my home state of Kansas.  Amazing.  Last summer we received an invitation to KMUW's Grape Harvest Gathering at Grace Hill Winery north of Wichita.  Who knew such a fun, ecotourist experience was waiting for us less than an hour from our home...and is waiting for you to experience too.

On the morning we arrived at the Grace Hill Winery there were plenty of grapes to harvest.

So our family of three got started.  We were immediately introduced to our picking tools, which I must say, made the process incredibly easy.  By sliding the stem of the grape cluster into the "v" on the tool, the two blades easily sliced it off the vine.

Once the grape cluster was sliced off the vine, it went into a large, yellow tub.  You can see a stack of them behind Chris in this picture.  Because we harvested for the entire morning, there were many, many tubs filled to the brim and ready to be made into wine.

In order to save grapes from the birds, a "cannon" is set up in the vineyard and used when needed.  Sometimes I think I need to invest in one of these for the big black birds that overtake our street in Wichita!

Once the day's harvest was complete, the group went into the event area for a lunch and wine tasting provided by the winery.

The Chambourcin Grapes we harvested that day would eventually become the "Dodging Tornadoes Silver" wine.  We got to taste this wine, and many others that the winery makes from other types
of grapes they grow.  
Tasty, very tasty.

Then we got to see some of the Chambourcin grapes we picked in their first stage
of the wine making process.

We also learned about the process which turns them into tasty wine.

It was a great experience, something I never expected to get to do, or even realized happened so close to our home.  Would you like an Italian experience right here in Kansas?  Contact Grace Hill Winery and volunteer to pick grapes for a few hours one morning.  I'm sure they would love to have the extra help, and you'll love the experience and tasting the local wine.

Not into grape harvesting?  Plan a free wine tasting of some great local wines.  Just contact the winery for more info.

Here's to more exciting local food experiences this year - Love Local Food!


  1. It's the best time to make some plans for the future and it's time to be happy.
    I have learn this publish and if I may just I wish to suggest
    you some attention-grabbing things or advice.
    Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.
    I wish to learn even more things about it!
    Also visit my weblog - Work from home

  2. Hello...may I know where you bot that grape picking tool? Thanks, Charlie

    1. Hi Charlie - We actually didn't buy the tool but borrowed it from the winery. You could probably contact them and ask.