In this post, I mentioned that we brought a book back from California. The Grapes Grow Sweet is the story of a family bringing in California grapes at harvest time. Beautifully illustrated with rich, watercolor pictures, the book tells the story of Julian and Adrienne Rossi, two children growing up in the fourth generation on a Napa vineyard. The story is tenderly told and every time I read it aloud to my children, I'm drawn into the warmth of this family and the love and respect they have for the people who work with them. As I mentioned in this post, I'm particularly fascinated by organic and biodynamic farming. In this book, the ecology of the vineyard comes alive, showing the insects and other creatures among the grapevines. The pictures are incredibly detailed and with each reading so far, we've noticed something new. There are some extension resources for the book here that have delighted us in the past week.
My girls were so inspired by this book that we took off last week for an impromptu visit to some Virginia vineyards, hoping to see the harvest gondolas. We headed to Loudoun County vineyards first. I found that people in the two places we stopped weren't terribly responsive to the presence of children, despite their website assurances that they were family friendly.
The next week, we went apple picking in Front Royal and then, popped around the corner to Rappahanock Cellars, a vineyard recommended by Janine in the comments of that post. Rappahanock Cellars is a family-owned vineyard and winery run by the the Delmare family. Since there are twelve kids in that family, they didn't bat an eye when I arrived with six.
We had a wonderful time. We picnicked and ran around and breathed in mountain air scented with grapevine. We had an abbreviated tour (it's harvest season), but then we got to stand at the big picture windows and watch huge mounds of grapes be transported to the hopper for pressing.
The book absolutely came to life! We plan to go back in October because I have hunch it's a particularly wonderful place when the leaves change color. (And because we joined the wine club and opted to pick up our selections;-).
For more about our Storybook Year, please visit here.