Picking Basket


Worn by workers harvesting fruit by hand, this polymer bucket with a fabric, draw-stringed bottom, was used during the 2011 harvest of Norton grapes at Chrysalis Vineyards near Middleburg, Virginia. Manufactured by Wells & Wade, makers of harvest equipment in Wenatchee, Washington, this type of bucket is a more common sight in Virginia’s apple orchards than its vineyards. But the owner of Chrysalis, Jennifer McCloud, decided that the crew harvesting her Nortons would benefit from the equipment used by the region’s apple pickers.

The Norton, a hybrid developed from native American grapes, thrived in Virginia in the 19th century, despite the region’s challenging, humid climate. The old vineyards were obliterated during Prohibition in the 1920s, but the varietal was still thriving in Missouri when Virginia vintner Dennis Horton brought back cuttings to plant in his vineyard near Gordonsville. His first vintage of Norton in 1992 inspired other Virginians to plant the hardy grape, including McCloud, who, by 2011, had 40 acres of Norton vines to tend.

McCloud trellises her Nortons so that the fruit lies on top of the leaves, rathering than hanging low where the grapes would be subject to mildew and rot during the humid growing season. Nestled above the leaves, the clusters not only receive the sunlight, but also the benefit of occasional breezes that waft through the Piedmont terrain. At harvest time, which is typically in October and November, workers strap on the baskets, with the bucket at chest height. As they walk through the vineyard rows, they cut the clusters into the bucket, without having to bend or stoop down. Once the bucket is filed, the picker walks to a waiting tub or gondola, unties the drawstring, and lets the grapes fall into the container. During the 2011 harvest, pickers Efrain Rivera, Luis Fernando Nolazco Hedes, Fernando Nolazco Ortega, and Fredy Villalobos were among the workers picking grapes in this manner at Chrysalis.

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: Wine


See more items in: Work and Industry: Food Technology, Food, FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Chrysalis Vineyards

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2012.0011.01Accession Number: 2012.0011Catalog Number: 2012.0011.01

Object Name: basket

Physical Description: plastic (basket material)canvas (hanging bag material)metal (basket material)Measurements: basket: 11 1/2 in x 17 in x 13 1/2 in; 29.21 cm x 43.18 cm x 34.29 cmhanging bag: 15 1/2 in; 39.37 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ad-a6e4-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1417756

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