OZAWKIE, Kan. (KSNT) – As fall approaches, pumpkin spice, sweaters and cooler weather are things many people can expect.
However, for local wineries, it’s the beginning of a very important time: grape harvest.
“We’ve got one little grower that we use, and we don’t bring in any outside juice, it’s all on what we grow,” said Lori Henderson, co-owner of Crooked Post Winery in Ozawkie. “People like that, they like to see ‘Kansas’ on the label.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, many people in the area have been heading to their local winery for something to do. At least, that’s the case for Crooked Post Winery.
“We’ve been busy this whole entire COVID, we really have. People have realized that they’re safe here, we have so much space, and we wear masks… they have come from all over,” Henderson said.
Henderson and her husband are expecting an even larger crowd as they begin their harvest, starting the process of taking grapes from the vine to the bottle.
On Saturday, a group of volunteers helped the winery pick about four tons worth of grapes as part of their first harvest.
Crooked Post was not the only local winery hard at work on Saturday. The owners of Glacier’s Edge Winery in Wakarusa also spent the day preparing grapes.
“People don’t realize just exactly how much work and love goes in to making a bottle of wine,” said Mike Steinert, co-owner of Glacier’s Edge. “Harvesting is the fun part. Planting the grapes, tending the grapes, spraying them all the time, that’s the work. Preparing for the crush, and the press, and the clean-up afterwards, that’s the work.”
Each bottle of wine can take anywhere from multiple months, to multiple years, until it’s ready for drinking.
Both winery owners said all of the hard work is worth it, just to see their completed product, and customers enjoying it.
“Grapes are wonderful this year, plentiful, sweet, fruity, and we’re loving every minute of it,” Steinert said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but we’re loving every minute of it.”
The owners encouraged people to check out their local wineries, and taste what Kansas grapes have to offer.
Crooked Post offers harvesting events every Saturday, and Glacier’s Edge hosts live music events.