CEDAR RAPIDS – Who can blame Kirkwood Viticulture Instructor, Lucas McIntire, for being in what I can only describe as a state of grape Nirvana.
At our most recent class, the weather was Iowa-perfect and early grapes were good to go, allowing us to not only harvest the fruit of the vineyard, but to take the next step and make wine.
Tasting the grapes has been one of the high points in our eight-month course so far. Each variety ripens at different times, but the Frontenac Blanc, in mid-August, was already ready. Even having a harvest of this grape was remarkable, as it was just planted in 2012, making the wine made from these grapes undoubtedly the first in Iowa.
We used grape refractometers to test the sugar percentages in the grapes, using a small piece of fruit smudged on the hand-held device and holding it to the light. The Frontenac Blanc was already at 25 percent, while other varieties needed more time to ripen.
Another handy device is a grape fork, used to easily cut grape clusters from the vine. We harvested just over 60 pounds of Frontenac Blanc, enough to make a small batch of wine. The wine-making is beyond my expertise, but definitely one where Lucas excels. Find related articles here and see images of the process below: