Raisins — The Inside Scoop


| 10/6/2016 11:52:00 AM


Tags: small family farm, organic farming, growing grapes, making raisins, viticulture, Renee Benoit, California,

Renee-Lucie BenoitWhen I was a little kid, my mother gave us raisins as a snack all the time. She knew they were nutritious, and the little boxes they came in were perfect for the lunch box. Later, my mother figured out that the little boxes were costing her more, and she started wrapping a handful of raisins in wax paper for our lunch boxes. We kids gobbled them up. We didn't give them another thought.

thompsons
Picture-perfect Thompson seedless grapes being turned into raisins by the power of the sun.

Now that I am older and live in one of the premier raisin producing areas of the world — if not the most — I have found that there are things I took for granted about raisins and other fruit. I mention prunes as an example: I always assumed that a prune was a type of fruit, and you took a prune off the tree and dried it. Now I know that prunes are dried plums. In a similar way, I didn't realize raisins came from grapes, and I certainly didn't think they came from the same type of grape we ate fresh.

When we first moved to California's San Joaquin Valley, I saw grapes laid down on the ground on what seemed to be paper between the rows of the vines. What was this? Marty, my husband from Bakersfield, said "Oh, those are raisins." Raisins, I said? "That's the way they dry them," he said. That got my curiosity going, so then and there I vowed to learn more.

Fortunately, through my local CSA I found Three Sisters Organic. Three Sisters Organic/Soghomonian Farms is a third generation farm near Fresno. They grow table, wine, and raisin grapes. We visited the farm on a warm September day at the height of harvest. We pulled up to a clean, new office barn and were greeted by Johnni. Joe and Natalie joined us later.

family
Natalie, Johnnie and Joe




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