Where the Grapes Grow Sweet


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





























  1. Emily says

    We have some wineries in Ohio, up near Lake Erie. I visited once as a kid with my friend’s family but was more interested in other things, then! Should plan a trip back.
    VA is such a gorgeous state. Lucky you!

  2. says

    You have been such an inspiration to our home education lifestyle! I continue to learn so much from you. While I love, love all the stuff you do with your girls, I have two young boys and I often wonder what your home education looked like when you had “just” boys. My boys LOVE books. If you would ever care to share, I know I would learn something new. Blessings to you!

  3. Nancy says

    Elizabeth, I LOVE reading your blog. I read “Real Learning” a couple of years ago, and it changed me. I reread it again and highlighted it the second time with pretty colored pencils and a ruler. :0) Thank you so much for sharing your wisdoms and life with us.
    May I ask you a question? How do you do all that you do? Do you have a certain chore chart system? Any organizing tips to share? What time do you all get up? Any other helps for me?
    God bless you, Nancy

  4. Katherine says

    One of my brothers-in-law owns a winery (and vineyards) in Oregon. The joke among spouses of winemakers is that as you kiss him (or her) good-bye in September, you say “See you at Thanksgiving.” It’s a pretty intense time for them until the end of the year, so it’s not surprising that they’re not focused on visitors. I have grapes all over my kitchen table now just from our few vines and am going a little crazy trying to process or give them away before “wine” starts running on the floor.
    When I visited my family in VA four summers ago we had a lovely time blueberry picking near Front Royal. It’s almost impossible to grow blueberries here as the soil is too alkaline for the acid-loving plant. We live in a small town in CA where there are many apple orchards and the season is in fully swing. We always enjoy trying out the varieties that we don’t grow ourselves in our small orchard. Every orchard has something unique.

  5. Leah says

    Thank you for linking back to your “Storybook Year” post. After four weeks into our new school year, I’m seriously thinking about scraping our entire year of lesson plans feeling that it excludes our three-year-old son from the mama time that he needs. I’m finding it difficult to balance my attention among my three children, and the Storybook Year plans intuitively feel right for at this time in our lives. I am curious about “E is for Eucharist”, however. Is that a catechism book read, or going to Mass, or something else? I know that you are busy, so you may not get an opportunity to answer the question, but if you are able I would love to hear more about it. It’s always inspiring to read your posts. Thanks again for sharing.

  6. says

    I’m definitely going to have to find this book. When we moved to this house a year ago we were delighted to find out we have grapes growing along our fence. I still need to figure out how to care for them, but despite being neglected we’ve had a fun “harvest” every year. Enough to make our own wine from. I can’t wait to share this with the family.

  7. jen says

    Three of the best wineries in Virginia are Naked Mountain, Barboursville, and Horton Vineyard. They have always been kid and dog friendly.

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