Living so close to Sonoma Valley, we thought it would be fun to have our own little ‘crush’ with our one little grapevine. I originally planted this vine for its ornamental value, as it has incredible red fall foliage (the variety is ‘Roger’s Red’, a California native.) The grape itself has a ton of little seeds, making it a pain to eat, but since it’s such a beautiful vine I didn’t really care.
One Saturday morning, my daughter woke up and decided she really wanted to make grape juice with the bounty of grapes we had growing on our arbor. Since I try to seize any activity that my 15-year old wants to do with me (they seem to be getting fewer each year) I grabbed my husband and we dove right in.
It was actually a much easier project than I thought it would be. I was prepared for a long, messy day messy day, with my family quickly losing interest and abandoning me after 15 minutes. But they hung in there ’til the very end and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!
Here’s the step-by-step process, resulting in some of the best grape juice I’ve ever tasted:
Obviously, the first step is to pick your grapes. Even though our single vine gave us all of these grapes, believe it or not, we left just about as many on the vine for the robins and mockingbirds who love eating the grapes.
The next step is to de-stem the grapes. We removed the stems to avoid the juice becoming woody-tasting, or tannic, once they got crushed.
This is where it got a bit tedious, but my daughter hung in there for the 20 minutes or so that it took.
After rinsing the grapes, it was time for one of the most critical steps of this process. WASHING FEET!
The whole concept of using feet to crush the grapes for the juice I would soon be drinking sort of grossed me out, so I made sure they were first squeaky clean.
After 15 minutes of doing the ‘Lucille Ball’ stomp, the next step was to separate the juice from the skins and seeds. We used a colander with really small holes in it to filter out as many solids as we could. We also found it helpful to use our pastry blender to sort of ‘mash around’ and press down the skins, allowing even more juice to flow.
Next, we took the juice into the house to drain it through cheesecloth, removing the smallest particles.
After a quick boil on the stove to gently pasteurize the juice, we ended up with three large pitchers of very strong, but very tasty grape juice! We found it particularly delicious mixed with 7-Up or Seltzer water. The juice we didn’t drink, we simply poured into large ice-cube trays to use in our smoothies. Cheers!