Last weekend, I hitched a ride up to Oklahoma to help my friend Mauricio and his family with the grape harvest at Gray Fox Vineyard, the name of a few acres behind his parents’ house where a dozen or so rows of vines have been growing for the last thirteen years. They’ve since acquired more land and plan to build a winery next year, but, for now, they make a little wine for friends and family and sell juice to other local wine makers.
Mauricio and I woke at 6:00 a.m. in his in-laws’ house in Piedmont, Oklahoma. As a freelancer, I don’t see a lot of sunrises—not complaining, oh ye of little PTO—but that morning’s was a good ‘un. We got McDonald’s coffee and drove a few miles away to his parents’ house and vineyard. It was only after Mauricio and Lacie met in Dallas that they discovered their parents live maybe ten minutes away from each other.
Mauricio’s brother, Oscar, was already up and about. The grass was dewy, and the brothers were nice enough to find a pair of rubber boots that fit me. I got a quick rundown of what bunches to harvest and what to let alone on the vines, and we were off to the races.
The white grape varieties hadn’t done very well that year, but there was a good crop of a red grape variety called Norton. I hadn’t heard of it before, but apparently it’s big in Virginia. I was able to try some wine Maux’s dad made in 2015, and it gave me a strong sense memory of camping in the redwoods in California. I know practically nothing about wine, but I know I liked that.
There were a good number of people helping, and I think we were done by noon, which was good because it had begun to drizzle. Maux’s dad grilled hamburgers, and we rested and ate under the carport. All in all, a great experience. It was fun trying something new, and it’s been far too long since I’ve done any manual labor. Cheers to the Cremer family and the future of Gray Fox Vineyard.