Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Turning Grapes into Raisins

I was amazed at the agricultural diversity in the area around Fresno and Lemoore, California. There were walnuit trees, almond trees, corn, grapes--table, raisin and wine--alfalfa and many other crops. There were oil wells, cattle (Land 'O Lakes Dairy) and sheep. Everywhere you looked there was something. This is the San Joaquin Valley, and while it is in the middle of the desert the soil is very rich and good for growing crops. It was also amazing to me that during the day it would be 103 degrees and at night it would go down to 63 degrees--a drop of 40 degrees. While it sometimes gets to 103 degrees here in Charleston it is a different kind of heat. Here it is very humid and muggy. In Lemoore it is very dry--as I said, it is in the middle of the desert. The following pictures are mostly of grapes and vineyards.

On Sunday we went to Christopher's uncle's house to pick up Chris and Victoria's car. Their house sits in the middle of a ton of vinyards and nut trees. I think the above trees are walnut trees. They are all well tended and so neat and clean. I couldn;t get over all the things that grew in the area.

Across the street from Chris' uncle's house were also some almond trees. Mike went over and got a close up of the almonds on the branches. Aren't these neat pictures? I don't know when all this stuff is ready for harvesting, but the vineyards and nut trees were full and all were beautiful.

This area is know as the home of the raisin. Most of the vineyards had these Sun-Maid signs on them. Many of the cattle ranches had Land 'O Lakes signs. It was remarkable how large these vineyards were. As far as the eye could see were more and more vines loaded with grapes.

Victoria said as the time came closer to pick the grapes the vineyards got denser and denser until you could hardly walk down the rows. Then, after all the grapes were harvested the vines sort of die off until the next season.

You would drive mile after mile and see nothing but grapes. Some were tall and off the ground, others wer low to the ground. Some were table grapes, some were wine grapes (Though not as many) and some were for raisins. I forget if the tall ones were the table or raisin, but depending on the height you knew which they were.

Nosw, this was what amazed me. As we drove through the vineyards we saw all these grapes sitting on the ground on paper. This is actually how the grapes are made. They pick the grapes and lay them on the ground on brown paper and let the sun dry them until they are raisins. I would never have guessed that is how they did it.

Here is another view of the grapes on the ground. You can see the paper they are laying on. There were rows and rows of grapes like this just laying there in the sun.

Is this not beautiful? Look at all the grapes on the vine. I have seen grapes grow before--when we lived in Sicily there were vinyards all over Mt. Etna and they grew like this too, but I had never seen the grapes drying into raisins. In Sicily most of the grapes were wine grapes and not only did they have the vineyards, but they also made the wine right there.

I just thought the grapes looked so pretty--clumps and clumps of them everywhere. Some were white grapes, some this color purple and some an even darker color.

Here you can see how the vines get thicker and thicker as they grow. I don;t know how they get down some of the rows to pick the grapes. The vineyards just looked so pretty and cool.

More of the vineyards. There would be several rows, then a break, like a dirt road, then more rows and rows.

Here are some of the darker colored grapes on the paper to dry. As far as hyou could see would be paper and grapes--tons of grapes.

There didn;t seem to be as many of the dark colored grapes as there were of the white grapes, but there were plenty of both. I don;t know how ong they leave them lay there or what happens if it rains.

More of the dark grapes being made into raisins.

1 comment:

The Stein Family said...

The taller ones are the table grapes...and unfortunately it really never rains here, so I guess that's why they're able to just dry the raisins out that way.