VINEYARD TALES

VINEYARD TALES

I have many happy memories from growing up on a grape farm. Every fall when the grapes were ripe, I would race out to the vineyards after school. The weather was still sunny, but you could feel autumn coming in the crisp breeze that rustled the milkweed and wild sumac. My mother and aunts would be picking grapes, methodically working their way down the rows, clipping bunches and dropping them into old wooden beer crates. They pulled the crates along until the box was full, and then started again with a fresh crate, always keeping the farm dog ahead of them in the rows, to flush out pheasants and blue racer snakes. It was hard work.

At the end of the day I would perch on the fender of the tractor as one of my uncles chugged up and down the rows, picking up the full boxes of grapes. Someone else would stand on the sled that was hitched to the tractor, piling grape boxes on the sled. In retrospect, I would never let one of my kids ride that jolting tractor, perched so perilously between fender and axle, but it was the most joyful thing in the world at the time.

What, you must be wondering, does this have to do with today’s post? Not much, other than to say I have a special relationship with the grape. They have a deep and fragrant beauty, and deserve appreciation for their visual appeal as much as for their taste. And they make perfect – and edible – centerpieces.

Here’s how to arrange grapes for a late summer centerpiece. I first posted this in 2014 and have had so many questions about it that I’m reprinting the directions for a gorgeous grape cornucopia. Enjoy!

WHAT YOU'll NEED

  • 6 large bunches of grapes
  • wooden skewers cut to three inches long
  • pedestal container
  • floral tape
  • half block of oasis, trimmed to fit container
  • floral wire
  • several strands of ivy

Assemble items listed above.

P

Soak oasis in water so that it is heavy and well-grounded on pedestal. Tape oasis to pedestal

Using floral wire, wrap it around stem of one bunch of grapes, twisting wire to hold grapes firmly. Attach other end of floral wire to another bunch of grapes in same way and suspend across oasis. Repeat process and hang across other side of oasis.

Place 3-inch pieces of wooden skewers into each quarter of oasis and use as an anchor, wrapping additional bunches of grapes with floral wire and twisting around skewers to hold them firmly in place. Build the grapes upward in an asymmetrical pattern until you are pleased with the look. Allow grape bunches to hang down at different lengths around pedestal.

Tuck vines of ivy into open spaces to fill gaps.

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