I have come to feel that my life revolves around rhubarb. We grow a lot (I mean, a lot) of rhubarb – around 30000 pounds a year. It is also a very large part of our sales for both wine and cider, and as a result it seems I am always weeding, picking, pressing, fermenting, bottling and marketing rhubarb in one form or another.
Rhubarb seems like it should be simple to grow but in reality it is a constant challenge. We use a specific variety that isn’t as hardy as the prairie rhubarb most people are familiar with. And, despite talking to rhubarb experts around the world, we have yet to discover any way to mechanize harvesting of the sturdy stalks. So every summer 20 to 40 people end up yanking rhubarb out of the ground in our orchard for at least two weeks.
But it is so worth it. It’s a joy to make wine and cider with. And I dare say, even more of a joy to drink. So despite the fact that I no longer can enjoy a rhubarb pie or tart (due to rhubarb exhaustion) in those beautiful summer mornings I give thanks to the bounty of rhubarb and all that it provides.
Fun fact: Richard the Lionhearted (1157-1199) was instructed by his royal physician to drink rhubarb wine every morning upon rising for good health. Not that we recommend morning drinking, but it does have a royal precident!