Lon Rombough, author of The Grape Grower: A Guide to Organic Viticulture shares his passion for plants and growing grapes; a lifetime of study and practice as a world renowned plant breeder and grower. He shares his unique story while pruning grape vines and fruit trees on his farm property.
My backyard came with a grape vine. It was winter when I moved in, and I had no idea what type of grape it was. Canes were stretching their arms out and under it all I found an old gnarly trunk. Never having a grape vine before, I left it alone, figuring, if I was lucky, I’d get some grapes at the end of summer.
Sure enough, some of the most delicious, seedy Concord grapes emerged. My family ate them up. The 2 youngest complained of the seeds, but everybody loved the flavor. Last summer Lynn made some jam, and I made a pie. Otherwise, it was just pick and pop them in your mouth.
This past winter I looked at the vines, all going this way and that, and thought, boy, you need a haircut! But I don’t know the first thing about that. Through the video Biodynamic Vineyard I was able to connect with someone whose life grew up around grape vines, Lon Rombough. In addition to what I learned first-hand through Lon Rombough, I also discovered some useful online resources, as well. Vitisearch is a viticulture and enology directory that’s an excellent index to a wealth of information on the subject of wines and grape growing. The North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) is a network of individuals throughout the United States and Canada devoted to the discovery, cultivation and appreciation of superior varieties of fruits and nuts”.
I shouldn’t stop with just grape vines, though, for he has an affinity with all plants. His yard is also full of fruit trees, each with its own story of how it came to be. One in particular caught my eye. It is an apple tree near his house, but it is no ordinary apple tree. It was 4 varieties growing and producing from one trunk! Ah, the magic of grafting.
I learned a lot about grapes that day with Lon. I learned a lot about other plants too. In fact, several weeks later I actually had the nerve and, more importantly, an idea of how to prune that grapevine-gone-wild in my backyard. It is now all ready to produce more awesome grapes this season.
Oh, I had a big surprise too. Turns out I had two vines, not just one, under all those tangled canes. It was a ‘grape’ surprise.