Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Grapes Gone Wild

Sunday Stefania and I slept in late. We had no plans for the 4th of July and by 11:45 we were wondering what to do. The temps had reached the low 90's so a few hours out in the sun doing hard exercise seemed like a good plan!

We hooked up the bike rack, packed a picnic lunch, loaded on the bikes and headed to Coyote Creek Trail for a 21 mile bike ride. Yep, more than a little nuts and Stef got over hot on the last 5 miles. We stopped for lunch half way though and had a nice picnic by the river.

On our way back down the trail my shoe lace got tangled in my sprocket and I had to stop along side the trail. Stefania spotted this growing along the river right where we stopped.

They are grapes growing wild along the river bank. I looked around to see if there was any sign of a past vineyard and there really wasn't. Most likely some time, perhaps as long as 40-50 years ago, some grapes washed down the creek from a vineyard up the valley and took root here. It's also possible that birds 'deposited' seeds along the banks.

In the wild, and left to their own, grapes take a long time to get established. All kinds of critters feed on the leafs, and in a dense riverside canopy they have to struggle for sunlight. It takes four years to get a plant established in a vineyard, it can easily take 20 in the wild. Eventually though the plant will do what it has evolved to do and climb up a tree for sunlight. This one had finally climbed to the top of a young sycamore.

Once the vine gets its leafs up in the sun, it will finally set fruit. In the wild the fruit set will usually be poor and spotty like you see below. But then the plant only needs to get a little fruit out there to reproduce. Once it's firmly established it will set more fruit.

Our final picture is a stop we took along the trail. You can see the picnic loaded up on Stef's bike. I was trying to take a picture of a very curious young buck across the trail, not 15 feet away, but as I pulled out my camera, another bike came along and scared him off.

I'm sure we will be back on the trail again this summer, maybe just not on so hot a day.


Stefania said...

The bike ride was pore cleansing, I think I sweat out of every possible cell in my body.

The only reason the grapevine stood out was I noticed all the mottled bumps on it from mite damage. Paul was just riding away from me when I called him back to look.

Wes Barton said...

You sure it's not Vitis Californica?

Paul Romero said...

Pretty sure. It's not like any of the V.C.'s I've ever seen. It looked a lot like Zinfandel from the leafs.