Grapes vs. Raisins

Welcome to this, the final Bring it Home post in what has been a bit of a different month. If this is your first time visiting, know that it is a blog that discusses short-term missions in general and more specifically, our own preparations for an extended short-term missions assignment in France.  March however, has been about how to bring a certain “je’ne sais quoi” to your own home.

Grapes or Rasins?

(…and why this is even a question)

Terminologically speaking, it can take a bit of getting used to. Look at the terms associated with grapes and a bunch of grapes. I don’t know about you, but the possibility of confusion is definitely there.

English French
Grapes des raisins
a bunch of grapes une grappe de raisin
  1. Grapes: the French word used to indicate grapes is… “raisins”how-EV-er, in English, raisins denote a very specific state of grapes… DRIED. In Englihs, dried grapes are called raisins, which begs the question, “What do the French call raisins?” … easy! They call them “des raisins secs”  (dried grapes).
  2. a Bunch of Grapes: Interestingly, the word bunch is translated by a word that looks suspiciously like the English grape… “une grappe”. Interestingly enough though… there is really no particular natural relationship between the two. The French grappe is a botanical term used to indicate a cluster of items that cling to a central stem. Even flowers like lilac, wisteria, foxglove or phlox would be described using the terme grappe.

La Vigne…

grape3Vineyards are a wonderful spot, but while we tend to think of them in terms of fields and fields at a time (which they often are in France) they can also be found on a much more intimate scale.

The vineyard to the left can be found at the base of the Tour Caesar in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Provins, a fortified medieval hilltop town south of Melun.

grape1One thing I love about the French though, is this. Use of grapevines is not just limited to full-blown vineyards. Take a look at the house on the right. This is a very young grapevine, but the main stem has been allowed to grow up one of the beams of the house and then lateral branches are encouraged to grow to either side.

Training a grapevine to grow in such a manner has two benefits:

  1. It softens the hard architectural lines of the house, producing a pleasing, live and green (literally) accent to the decor.
  2. Once the vine matures and begins to produce grapes (4-6 years), the radiant heat off the facade of the house will ensure that grapes grow big and ripen quickly, ensuring a bountiful harvest.

Bring it Home

From the time that we first bought our current house (2002) I established 4 grapevines on the property (mostly against the house, but one over an arbor) kept pruned in a couple of ways, but all along the same principle as described above.

grape2It took a couple of years for them to establish, but in 2012 I harvested over 10lbs of grapes (enough to make 30+ bottles of grape jelly) and when it came time to prune the plants, made several grapevine wreaths for holiday decorating.

Note: you do need to prune grapevines heavily. This will ensure that energy is preserved for growing grapes rather than keeping an excessive number of branches alive.


One last comment on grapes before I end March’s Bring it Home focus.

The reason that I have always particularly liked grapevines is this. In the Bible, when a group of men were going to explore the land that God had promised them… the promised land, they came back carrying grapes.  The cluster of grapes was so big that it took two men to carry it on a staff (Numbers 13.23).

The men brought this enormous cluster of grapes to prove a point to those who’d not seen the land with their own eyes. What was it?

This enormous cluster of grapes was tangible proof of the extent of the abundance that characterized God’s provision for his people. Never before had they seen anything like it.

Such is the provision that Jesus’ makes for his people. John 10:10 (Jesus speaking) says this… “I have come that they might have life and that more abundantly.”

You want abundant life?
You’ll find it in Jesus!