Monthly Archives: August 2011


Need I say more?

While Mom and Dad slipped off to Michigan last week for a family gig, the grapes metamorphosed into beautiful, plump, purple berries! We still have a long way to go as harvest usually occurs about 45 days after verasion. That will put us into October again this year…too late to be harvesting grapes as we move into possible rains and stalled flavors due to the long hang time late in the year. Mom and I are at the ranch through Labor Day as we prepare to fertigate the rest of the vineyard, pull more laterals from the fruiting zone, trim and tuck canopy, and generally fuss over every little thing possible. Today we will pre-water for the organic fertilizer application on Friday and walk the vineyard looking for potential problems.

Hell, Michigan

Apparently Mom and Dad had a great time in Michigan..Hell, MI to be exact! Lots of good times with family and friends mountain biking awesome single track and kayaking the lake, with a lot of eat, drink, and be merry thrown in the mix.

Garlic Nirvana

If you have ever had Mom and Dad’s summer pasta with tomatoes and garlic, you know how much they love Allium sativum! One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Dyer Family Organic Farm near Ann Arbor, MI. Richard and Diana Dyer specialize in over 40 different varieties of soft and hard necked garlic. A visit to their farm was a delight for two “stinking rose” aficionados like Mom and Dad. (P.S.  Did you know that elephant garlic is actually a wild leek in disguise!)

I am still trying to recover from my vacation last week! Eric, Zephyr, and all the other kids at camp kept me pretty busy and I wasn’t able to get my quota of sleep. Now we have to take a walk in the vineyard…sigh.

Talk later,


“I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.” – Rita Rudner


Filed under Food, Pinot Noir, Vineyard

Powdery Mildew, the Big Kahuna

As every farmer knows, for every bit of produce that comes out of the field, there are an equal number (or more) of pests that can bring on their demise. Today we are sulfuring the vineyard to protect against powdery mildew.

Spraying sulfur compounds for powdery mildew must be started on the green clusters early in the season and continue once every 2 to 3 weeks depending on the powdery mildew index. It goes like this:

“After finding powdery mildew, an epidemic will begin when there are 3 consecutive days with 6 or more continuous hours of temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees…” – UC Davis Integrated Pest Management Program.

So a good spray program is essential; that is, every 21 days +/- . This will usually prevent spread of the fungus, but it is also important to monitor between spraying in case the days have to be tweaked a bit.

This picture shows a good case of powdery mildew. We have never seen anything quite like this since we maintain a good spray program. Here are the dates we sprayed: 4/22, 6/8, 7/1, and 7/14. Between 4/22 and 6/8 the weather was to cold for powdery mildew, but other than that you can see it has been 2 to 3 weeks between sprays.

The good new is that once the grapes have gone through verasion (color change), there is too much sugar in them to support the growth of powdery mildew and spraying is no longer needed. (As an aside, the sugar (Brix) is usually 12 degrees or more. Brix is something we will talk about later as we get closer to harvest.)

It has been a long week. Mom and I have dealt with dirt, rocks, propane, and spraying. Time to kick back and relax this weekend…nothing to do but eat, drink, and be merry! Have a good weekend!


Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful. – Ann Landers

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Filed under Pinot Noir

Garden Surprises!

It’s August first and the vineyard is pretty well buttoned up for a bit so today we are going to talk about what Mom found in the garden while doing pruning and routine maintenance. The morning did start out early with a little bit of vineyard work as Mom put a big dose of water on the newly grafted swan block. They are growing like gangbusters and we are trying to encourage deep root production. The rest of the vineyard is not ready to be watered quite yet…their roots are pretty well developed and there was plenty of rain this year right into June.

But the garden…that is another matter. It is crazy overgrown and it was time to thin things out to give all the plants enough room to thrive.

Early this summer we had noticed a covey of quail hanging around the house and down by the pond. Imagine Mom’s surprise when she lifted a bush that needed trimming and found 11 small eggs, all hatched and surrounded by tiny little feathers. Of course Mom and Dad made a big deal about it complete with pictures while I was more interested in finding the birds so I could chase them and create all sorts of havoc.

The fruits of pruning, watering, and fussing in the garden are finally showing up. Mom ate the first peach off the tree today…shared it with Steve in appreciation for all the wonderful rock and dirt work he does every year at our place. (He is also one of my favorite people in the world as he always tries to sneak me cookies and gives me plenty of  ear and belly rubs! Mom always seems to catch the cookie part and he gets in trouble every time!) In addition there has been sightings of blackberries on cereal and strawberry shortcake. My kibble seems not so exciting.

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The flowers have gone crazy too, the Dahlias, black-eyed Susans, and Sunflowers are the best!!! And can anyone tell me what the Mystery Squash is? It showed up as a volunteer one day and Mom and Dad just let it carry on. Squash is very much like grapes…the seeds of a known variety, if planted, will not grow that specific variety. Go figure.

It’s late…tomorrow is another day and I need my beauty sleep! Good night all!


“How’s it going Mr. Peterson?” – Woody
“It’s a dog eat dog world, Woody, and I’m wearing milk bone underwear.” – Norm (from Cheers)

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Filed under Pinot Noir, Vineyard