Living so close to Napa Valley, we thought it would be fun to have our own ‘crush’ with our ‘Roger’s Red’ native grapevine.
I originally planted this vine for its ornamental value, as it has incredible red fall foliage. The grapes themselves have tons of little seeds, which makes them 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 she could see dangling from our arbor.
I always seize the moment with any activity that my 15-year old wants to do with me as they seem to be getting fewer each year. So, 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 and messy day, with my family losing interest and abandoning me after 15 minutes. But they hung in there until the very end, thoroughly enjoying every minute of it!
Here’s our simple 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 one vine gave us all of the grapes pictured here, believe it or not, we left just as many on the vine for the robins and mockingbirds to finish off for us.
The next step is to de-stem the grapes.
We removed all the little stems to avoid the juice becoming woody-tasting, or tannic, once they were 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 grossed me out, so I made sure hers were squeaky clean.
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 mash and press down the skins, allowing even more juice to flow.
Next, we took the juice into the house to drain it through a piece of cheesecloth, which removed the smallest particles that the colander didn’t strain.
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.