Harvest Breakfast

When our friends came to help us pick one ton of our Merlot grapes a couple of weeks ago, I made a harvest breakfast for us all.  You have to look after the workers!  I love using everything we grow in our garden for these breakfasts and in a previous post, I'd listed the menu.

We started with all-day-long oat bites - one of my staples and then had a parfait with berries, homemade marmalade granola (no sugar added) and homemade soy yoghurt.  I have to tell you that the highlight in my kitchen in the last few months has been my homemade soy yoghurt.  I'll share my recipe for it in the next day or two, but it has changed my life! I love it so much and its only 4 ingredients!  But, I digress.... the parfait was a blackberry base layer, then yoghurt, then granola, then raspberry, then yoghurt then granola.  Topped with fresh mint.


Then there was a a fig frittata, and also a roasted vegetable flat bread, with homemade sun-dried tomato hummus as its base - on a gluten free flax base:


Then came the an apple banana bread with an almond drizzle, and a discussion on whether sweet and savory dishes should be served on the same plate - or even on the same plate at the same time!!!   It is obvious that there is a big difference between Americans and British!!!

To finish -  the lemon cheesecake - dairy free, sugar free, gluten free ( and served on clean plates!!) Topped with citrus caviar!  Made with cashew nuts for the "cheese" and dates and almonds for the base.


And of course, it was our 10th harvest, so we did have to get out our ten year old Birdland Merlot wine to see how it was doing - and by the time we ate, it was lunch time!!  Every year we change the color of our wine label - our first year was yellow, as you can see below.  I wonder what color we'll choose for our 10th year?


Everyone seemed to enjoy the ending of our harvest


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We train them young!



We had our youngest ever member of the harvest team for our merlot grape harvest this year.  Talk about training them young.  Little Evelina definitely deserved her wages! She's just 20 months old.

She harvested - the low hanging fruit:


But spent most of her time on quality control, sifting through the grapes and making sure they were up to standard.



Let's hope she comes back every year.  She'll end up being a super grape taster - predicting the best vintages, no doubt!  Thanks for all your hard work little E! xx
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Got any grapes?

When Evelina arrived just over a week ago, we learned a new song - which is the cute Youtube at the bottom of this post.  It's all about a duck that asks "got any grapes?".


All week we've been singing "waddle, waddle, waddle", etc - but the song was very apropos yesterday as we were harvesting our one ton of Merlot grapes.  Yes, we definitely did have some grapes.


Craig, Chui and Evelina all helped with the harvest - as did some singing friends of mine (even though they didn't know the "got any grapes?" song) - Carol, Andy and Jeremy.  We picked for about 3 hours - each working in pairs either side of the vines.

All the grapes went in to half ton bins and on a truck John had rented.  They then went off for their custom crush in Sonoma.

It was a lovely morning. It always feels so connecting to the earth and also to friends to work together on the land.

I know you can't wait to hear the duck song, so here it is!:

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Harvest breakfast

While we sell most of our grapes each year, we do keep a ton for ourselves.  We pick these ourselves with the help from some of our friends and family.  Its a fun day and a lovely experience to be working on the land. After we've harvested the grapes, we sit down outside and share a big harvest breakfast.

I love to prepare food from our produce for the breakfast.  Here's what is on the menu:

All day long oat bites

  • For snacks when people first arrive - to get them ready for work, we made some all day long oat bites. And we will have coffee and orange and tangerine juice to go with them.
  • Then we've made an apple and banana bread.  Naturally we had to try it - and it was tasty - a very moist cake.  It will be served with an almond butter drizzle.
  • I also made some orange marmalade granola and some soy yoghurt yesterday.  I'm going to combine the granola with the yoghurt and some berries to make small breakfast parfaits.  
  • Then there is a fig frittata.  We've had to ration the figs to only 2 each per day for the last couple of days, so that there are plenty to go in the frittata!
  • To get some veggies into us, I'm then trying a hummus and roasted vegetable tart.  Sounds yummy so hoping it'll hold up, being gluten free.
  • And finally - my famous lemon cheesecake - which is free of cheese/dairy!
Apple and banana bread
The frittata has eggs in it (!) otherwise all dishes are vegan, gluten free, and have no refined sugar.

I think it's going to be a good breakfast for our hardworking family and friend crew.

I'll let you know how it all goes.
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Grape skin flour experiments

I got some new fruit flours this past week so have been keen to get trying them out.

I got some grape seed flours and also some grape skin flours.  My first two tries with the grape seed flours I didn't really care for, but when I tried the grape skin flours, I really like them.  The grape skin flours are made by WholeVine Products.  They are naturally gluten free.



You may recall that I've made my own fruit flours before - mulberry, apple, raspberry, strawberry, but these ones were purchased - even though we have a vineyard! Maybe this year I'll make my own grape flour!

Anyhow I wanted to make some savory crackers to have with a glass of wine.  I thought about different spices and flavors and which ones go well with different wine varietals and the result is:

  • sauvignon blanc and caper crackers, and
  • merlot and mustard crackers

I love them both and so did my taster friend yesterday!  I'm really quite excited and want time to try lots of other things.  I'm going to be making some for my new Food as Medicine group this week.  I hope they like them as much as I do!

If they like them, I'll share the recipes.
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Merlot Harvest 2012

A week ago today, we were busy harvesting 22 tons of Merlot grapes! Phew.


The vineyard management crew began at 4am - in the dark with little lights on their heads to find the grapes!  I don't have a light, so that was my excuse to wait until the sun was up!



Harvest day is always one of the best days of the year. It's such a grounding, connect to nature experience to be in the vines all day, reaping the fruit, surrounded by the noises and chatter....and there were ducks on the pond, a great blue heron and deer all watching on.



As well as the vineyard crew - 12 pickers plus two others driving the tractors and loading the fruit etc, we had four friends join us to help with pulling the leaves out of the bins. The 2 ton capacity bins are pulled through the vineyard as the guys throw the grapes in, and we stand on little planks of wood at the side, diving in to get out the leaves.  As a result of having 4 friends with us, I think our fruit is probably the cleanest in terms of no leaves of any harvested in California! We did such a great job.





The "4" also picked some of the left over Godello from the previous week, to sharpen their picking skills.

The harvest was nearly 3 weeks early for us this year.  And the fruit looked and tasted perfect. The right sugar levels, the right acidity - it just all came together.


And we had some lively conversations over the grape bins - and some interesting times, for example when Mike leaned in to the bottom of the bin to get some leaves, but his feet came off and he teeter-tottered on the edge, not being able to get back up! Unfortunately, we didn't have our camera at this stage!


At 10.30am we stopped for a brief break and then were all finished at 1pm, when it was time for a harvest lunch outside, followed by some grape stomping.  Only Jeremy and I were up for stomping - the others had pathetic excuses, I can tell you!!!!  But J and I had fun and I'm sure they were then all envious that they didn't have sticky legs!!!!

First time stomper nerves from Jeremy..."do I really want to do this????"


It has been suggested that we need to use a larger bucket!

Hopefully from the photos you can see what a fun time it was.  Are you ready to sign up to join in next year????
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Everything is tickety-boo

Here is this week's list of things that made me feel like every is tickety-boo:

Our merlot grapes

  • lots of social time - from a friend staying the night, to a group of 18 British women here one night, to a picnic under the oak tree with a friend, to dinner out with other friends, to........
  • plenty of cooking time 
  • getting out behind recipe books and doing my own thing
  • cooler mornings reminding me that fall is nearly here
  • the smell of apples dehydrating 
  • my parrot Harold singing along to his favorite toy
  • tasting our grapes for ripeness - not there yet, but great flavors are developing
  • seeing both the great blue and the little green heron together on our pond
  • rearranging outdoor furniture and loving the change
  • enjoying new clients
  • doing some sorting and clearing out at home
  • good chat on the phone with my sister and my parents
Our Godello grapes
Hope your week has had plenty of tickety-boo times in it too.
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Everything is tickety-boo

Here are the things that have happened this week that made me feel that life is tickety-boo!  Hope you had plenty too:

  • my parents are settling in well in their new home. They moved only a couple of weeks ago, and are already finding lots to do and meeting new people and their home is all sorted!
  • anticipation of my upcoming trip to see my sister, bro-in-law and nephews in Sanibel
  • trying new recipes - like cauliflower pizza! More on that later.
  • singing at a retreat from 9 - 3 on Saturday and loving it!
  • having the support of like minded people - particularly those in Camerata
  • a lovely luncheon at Kendall Jackson for their grape growers.  It was so delightful and interesting too to hear about the latest on wine sales and the industry etc
  • sharing our home with people for a different luncheon - even if it did get up to 97 degrees and we were eating outside!
  • sunshine and cool nights
  • the first fruits of our nectarine harvest
  • having so many quail families with all their babes living in our vineyard
  • new recipe books!
  • how about just books!  I loooooove books, as Mr Amazon will tell you :-D
  • missing family.  Yes, it seems odd that missing people should make me feel tickety-boo but it does.  Having special people in your life is what is important, even if you aren't together all the time.


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