Monthly Archives: May 2011

Extra! Happy Mother’s Day!

In honor of all Moms, I have decided to write a post dedicated to you, whether or not your special ones are of the two-legged or four-legged ilk. I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with family and friends and can kick back and enjoy! No vineyard work today for my Mom…she is relaxing all day and then going to pick up some wine…her kind of day!

Not all of you know how my Mom came to be my Mom and I became the new namesake of Red Dog Vineyards. A few years ago after Mom and Dad lost their beloved Ginger (who was the original namesake of Red Dog Ranch), they became fixated on a very special color (RED!!!) of labrador.

“Labradors [are] lousy watchdogs. They usually bark when there is a stranger about, but it is an expression of unmitigated joy at the chance to meet somebody new, not a warning.” – Norman Strung

I don’t know who the heck Norm is, but he sure has it right about us labs. Anyway, Mom and Dad were looking for a fox red lab and one day Mom typed those three fateful words into Google. Immediately “Honey” came up…”a little fox red lab, eager to please and happy to sit at your feet while you work” or some such encouragement for someone to want to take me home. That was pretty much it. Mom and Dad sent for me…a big gamble since I was living at a dog rescue site in Kentucky. I remember flying into SFO and meeting my new parents for the first time. I coulda cared less! But gradually over the days we moved into something that has surpassed even a dog’s expectation for a beautiful life…I knew I had found a loving home.

Evolution of a Dog’s Name: Honey, H, Honeybun, Honeybunny, Honeybutt, Bunny, Bunnybutt, Buttsky, the Bun, Pupbutt, Petunia, Pooper, Poopster, Poopstick, Peeper, Peepstick, Poochie, Poochska, Poochskaya, Pumpkin, Beanbrain, Skeezix, Stinky, Stinkweed, Sweetcheeks, Good Girl, Naughty Girl, Flea Bag, Tickster, Tukas, Missus, the dog. – inspired by “Dogs and Their Women” by Barbara Cohen and Louise Taylor

Minnie – our Newest Family Member: Mom’s sister Sue added a new member to her family!

“Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot little puppies.” – Gene Hill

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Happy Mother’s Day to all you special women out there!

The Bun

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Rootstock + Bud = Perfect Marriage!

Briefly, Red Dog Vineyard has four clones of pinot noir planted: Swan, 777, 115, and Pommard. There are many clones of the pinot noir varietal… these four clones were chosen by our winemakers for their ability to convey certain characteristics into the finished wine.

Like varietal clones, there are many rootstocks that can be planted based on soil type, among other things. Last spring we planted 3309 rootstock which was chosen for our specific site on Sonoma Mountain Road because of it grows well in our clay loam soil. It has grown for almost a year to let it develop a good root system in anticipation for grafting and Friday we did just that: 3309 rootstock + Swan clone bud.

The Swan clone budwood has been stored at Grey Creek Viticultural Services since February when it was cut, gathered, and bound in packs of 50 after pruning. The canes are cut so that there are about 8 buds per cane and each cane is about 2 1/2 feet long when it is bundled. Being that the budwood is from our own vineyard, it is called a field selection and comes from the strongest, most balanced vines. It has been stored at this facility at 37 degrees in moist sawdust filled bags to ensure the survival of the buds on each cane.

Here is a rootstock that was planted last spring.  By the time the budders get to each individual plant, the green growth has been removed leaving only the stem. The budders work in pairs, the first budder cuts a groove into the rootstock stem, then cuts a bud off one of the canes that were picked up Thursday from cold storage. He then slips it snugly into the groove. The next budder…

wraps the bud with white tape very snugly to keep it in place. You can see the bud peeking out of the tape. Hopefully in about 4 weeks we will see a little green leaf pop out, the beginning of a nice strong shoot that will eventually become  main trunk of the vine. But we aren’t done yet…

The final stage is enclosing the budded rootstock in a milk carton tube to make a nice warm growing environment and protect it from nibbling rabbits. Then we sit back and hope that all 1460 grafts take. Unfortunately, there are always a few misses and so the remaining budwood was taken back to cold storage until the budders come back to redo any grafts that have not taken.

Whew! It was hard enough to supervise all the work going on in the vineyard today AND patrol the perimeter in search of my nemesis, the dreaded bunny, So instead of blogging, I went to bed early. This morning Dad took me out for breakfast and to run a few errands. Can you say “happy dog”?



“If your dog doesn’t like someone you probably shouldn’t either.” – Unknown

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RIP Mom’s Ride

Mom's Ride

We had an exciting morning here at the ranch! Mom and I were on our way up the hill in the golf cart when we noticed puffs of white smoke coming from below. Mom stopped, checked under the vehicle and I don’t know what she saw but I was immediately ordered off my seat and together we were heading helter-skelter down the hill to gather two workers, a shovel and a fire extinguisher. Minutes later the panic was over and the cart was hauled down the hill.

The culprit: a battery fire; the cause: one can only speculate. But we suspect is was the rat that Tom found had chewed on everything in the shed including  the battery. We won’t put up the RIP sign yet, but riding in the cart is my most favorite thing in the world to do so I am hoping for a good outcome!

Did I mention there was a small grass fire? Gulp.

Enough excitement for one day! On Friday we are grafting the rootstock in the new vineyard so there will be a new post on that subject. Then hopefully I can get some sleep (and Mom too)!  Honey

“When a dog wags her tail and barks at the same time, how do you know which end to believe?” – Anonymous

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The Season Is In Full Swing!

Hard to believe another year has gone by! Obviously I was more interested in naps in the sun than keeping up with my blog. I promised Mom I would try to do a little better this year!

The task of the week: suckering. Yuk, it is a thankless job and takes hours and hours! Here is a before and after picture:

Naughty, unruly vine

 This vine needs a lot of work…all those leaves and shoots and stuff! In order to have a well balanced vine, there needs to be 6 to 8 spur positions on each arm and two growing canes from each of the spur positions. All that other growth drains the energy from the main shoots and will make it more difficult to grow and ripen good fruit. Mom spends lots of time in the vineyard suckering. Today she has two other helpers so that it can be done in a timely fashion. (Hey! If you look real close you can see a red dog in the background!)

Perfect, well-behaved vine

Here is the same vine all cleaned up and ready to go for the season.  This will not be the last time that this vine is fussed over. There are still wires to be put up to support the green canopy, shoots that will need to be  positioned, and a green fruit drop for those clusters that are lagging behind. It must also be monitored for vineyard pests such as mildew and phymopsis. (I’m still in the picture…have  you found me yet? I am up at the very top, 1/3 from the right. Click on the pic for a better view.)

Ok, time to get a drink of water and find a shady tree. Until next time.

Love and kisses,


“They [dogs] never talk about themselves but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation.” – Jerome K. Jerome


Filed under Pinot Noir