August 16, 2016

Update August 16, 2016, by David Yeh:

Before their official opening to the public, I took my family to visit the farm and see what's going on. Over the past two years, we tried every pear variety that they grew. So I was excited to see what were available this year. While the Asian pears still need more time to grow and ripen, they had some grapes that were ready for picking. Last year, we had their Concord and Chinese grapes, which were excellent.

We walked through the rows and rows of grape vines that are fuller now than last years crop. In order to protect the fruit, a bird cage is being installed from netting, sealing off access points for birds to sneak in and steal a taste. This was not done last year because there was not enough fruit to justify the time and money of installing the bird netting. We tested a few varieties with a refractometer, a device that measures sugar content in brix. The higher the brix, the more sugar is in the fruit. Of the table grapes, Himrod was ripe and ready to pick, at about 20 brix. Small in size but packed with flavor, low acid with a sweet aftertaste. We ended up picking a box of these grapes. Concord and Chinese grapes were still not ready. Those were my favorite last year.

Next, we sampled some wine grapes. A couple varieties had near 20 brix, but their high acidity made them unpalatable. They looked great with a refractometer, but was too sour to be enjoyed as fruit. The acidity helps preserve the wine after the sugars are used up in the fermentation process.

Before we left, we were excited to hear that shinseiki pears will be available soon, and then the hosui variety (my favorite). Because of the drought, fruit is developing slower and is smaller in size. The upside is that these pears will be sweeter than ever. I can't wait to taste this year's Asian pears!