Updated: Jun 15, 2021
Alas! The infamous and all important grape!
The grapevine has been a farming staple for humans since time immemorial, with proof of cultivation going back at least 8000 years. Of course, most of the vines were grown for the production of the utmost sacred of all beverages, wine! This is still true today, with almost 3/4 of all grape farms being vineyards.
Studies today have begun to prove the health benefits that the intoxicating drink can have for your heart and blood. Cardiologists even suggest a glass of red wine periodically for their heart patients! What other natural remedy has so readily crossed into Western Medicine?
Wine production began in the middle east all those millennia ago, and since has spread globally. Each locality has a specific wine for which they are famous, and each one has very distinct qualities. Of course there will always be debate about the best specialties as well as appreciation for all. This has lead to a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide!
To get the health benefits of wine you must practice discretion with your intake. Like anything, moderation is key, and we should respect the power of nature. But power it is, and if harnessed correctly can be an amazing thing!
Of course the grape is not only used for imbibing purposes.
Vast amounts of fresh grapes are sold every year, as well as dried grapes are sold as raisins. The juice is used to make both fresh juice and concentrate for use in many natural products as a sweetener. Not to mention jams and jellies. The seeds can be pressed into a versatile oil. The leaves are even edible and are used as such in some places!
I believe everyone ought to start their own grapevines for personal use.
You must be smart and use proper techniques to help yourself along. All kinds of animals will likely devour your grapes year after year if the crop isn't large enough. For this reason you must either have protective fencing and netting, or simply enough for all to enjoy. This is done by implementing designed rows of trellises as well as training and pruning methods.
In return you will have an easily accessible and highly enjoyable field for grapevine growing!
Grapes typically need a lot of sun, but not always a lot of water. "Dry growing" of grapes is a method in which only the annual rainfall is required to water the vine crop. Dry growers swear by this method because it leads to a strong root system and in turn a wonderful fruit.
Biodynamic winemaking can be added to the Dry Growing method by planting non-competitive companion plants like herbs and legumes. These plants will cover the soil, leading to water retention, as well as resupply the grapes with the necessary nutrients the vines need to grow strong. By doing this you will establish a self sufficient and sustainable grape growing venture!
When we were out in the middle of the desert, hiking at a site of ancient petroglyphs appropriately named Grapevine Canyon, we encountered grape eating rattlesnakes as well as the sacred massive natural grapevine as high as 30 feet! They truly are incredibly plants.
Another component that a lot of winemakers are beginning to appreciate fully is the elevation at which grapes are grown. High altitude wines receive more intense UV rays from the sun shine, which leads to a greater concentration of color, as well as stronger tannins due to the thicker skin that will develop to protect the fruit. The cool nights help the grape maintain more acidity as well. These factors all make for a better, more complex wine.
The highest vineyard in the world is in Tibet (go figure) at nearly 11,500 feet!
With all the benefits of growing vineyards in high and dry locales, as well as the many other important uses for the grape, it is apparent that the grapevine is as vital staple now as it has always been. Perhaps thats why vital, and grapes genus Vitis both start vit... Regardless it is a highly essential crop for the High Altitude Homestead.
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