Sewing and National Wine Day–a nice paring

by Ramona on May 25, 2016

Today is National Wine Day!

A friend, Donna W., of the Tucson chapter and I used to have “sip ‘n sews”. She is the best hostess. She would prepare a delicious meal or snacks and pare it with a nice wine–always perfect! We did have one rule though: we could only start sipping after more than  half the project or lesson was done. What a wonderful way it was to enjoy the day with good food, a glass of wine, but best of all enjoy the friendship of a like-minded sewing friend.

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Since moving to WI and having a tiny vineyard (it was a test plot of 13 cold-climate varieties by the previous owner of the property who was a WI Agricultural Extension Agent) I have a huge appreciation for grape growers and wine makers. My husband and I attended a grape growing conference shortly after moving here. We learned to grow grapes there is soil testing and amending, trellising, trimming, fertilizing, spraying and other knowledge that purely overwhelmed us. The investment to produce crops for sale to wine makers is not for the fool-hearty. Even small acreage growers invest several thousand dollars a year to produce a crop for market. Through that conference we learned we did not have the time commitment—let alone the money investment—to produce truly wonderful grapes for market. Later that year at a wine tasting we heard a story that confirmed our decision. Around September one local beautiful crop of several acres was wiped out in an afternoon due to hail–all right before the brix was correct for picking the grapes. It was heartbreaking to learn all the labor and money that was put into the crop was lost. Many growers and wine makers in this area are retirees on their second or even third career.

Now you may ask, “What does grape growing and wine making have to do with a sewing blog?”

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Grapes and wine making are a science, a skill, an art and pure instinct from experience–which actually makes me wonder why wines are not more expensive!!! Just as grape growers and wine makers command their market price, we sewists need to value our knowledge and skills—not undervalue them as I often hear sewers do. Think about how much money is invested in sewing equipment and tools, fabrics and supplies, and how long it has taken to acquire the knowledge and skills to perfect what we do—just like a vintner. We go to classes to learn whether locally, at chapter events, trade shows, and the ASG Conference. We study the work of others, read books, watch online videos, and there is lots and lots of trial and error. Just when we think we’ve got something down pat we may try the same technique with another fabric. We soon learn we have to tweak –yet again—what we just thought we had mastered.

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Sewing is a constant process of learning and experimenting. It, too, is a science, a skill, an art and pure instinct from experience just like grape growing and wine making. Rarely can we jump into a garment or project and go from start to finish without something new to learn to make the project come out as we wish. For each crop of grapes and each vat of wine, the producers alter the process based on previous knowledge, too.

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Me? I’m satisfied if I get enough grapes for some jelly making in the fall. The birds and bees, raccoon and deer, get the rest (I never knew bees liked grapes so much!) Already we’ve seen deer and raccoon picking in the small acre of grapes this spring and the brutally low temps last year wiped out two whole rows; we’ll cut back to the trunk and see if they rejuvenate (if not, I’ve already got plans to grow pole beans and peas up the trunks!) We definitely are not grape growers–but thankfully my passion lies in sewing and embroidery.

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Though the vineyard remains we prefer to maintain it only to let it look as pretty as it can and we concentrate on our employment. I’ll stitch grape and wine designs and create projects as gifts from grape and wine themed fabrics–this suits me much better—and I’ll walk the vineyard in the evenings and appreciate it while savoring a glass of wine.

Sew ‘til next time…enjoy the journey of sewing!

~Ramona

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