Tag Archives: grapes

Midnight Harvest

Harvest morn
and the silence is deafening, the vines
poised for slumber.

“Like a thief in the night, you ran away with my heart.” – Brooks & Dunn

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“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” – Yogi Berra

Wait! Why am I quoting Yogi in my blog? According to Wikipedia, Berra said this in 1973 when he was managing the New York Mets, and they were 9½ games out of first place. It would seem that their chances of winning a division title were slim and that it would be natural to give up. No, said Berra, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. The Mets rallied to win the division title on the next-to-last day of the season. So the answer is that it has nothing to do with harvesting a vineyard but everything to do with, well, basically not giving up the fight.

It rained at bloom, it’s raining during harvest time. In between the two rains, we worried about mildew and phymposis; now we worry about botrytis (bunch rot) and raisins. We have done everything we can to nurture and protect our little vineyard from harm; from spraying to leafing to mixing up a potion of eye of newt, tongue of frog! Can’t do anything more than wait.

So, in this slack time (harvest is tentatively scheduled for this coming Saturday in the wee hours), I took some pics of our wine cellar. Hope you enjoy!

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Ha ha! Just kiddin’! Would be awesome though not sure I’d put it in the middle of my kitchen floor! And Mom just uttered those immortal words:

“It’s five o’clock somewhere.” – Anonymous (and Mom)

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Harvest Cancelled Due to Rain…

You’ve all seen Sideways right? The story of two losers on a weekend lark to wine country in Central Valley, California. The movie that supposedly put pinot noir on the map…hey, any publicity is good! Mom and Dad saw it in a little theater in Sausalito, CA and smuggled in…you guessed it…a bottle of pinot.

Despite the rain, and the pests, and the searing heat, and did I say rain, this is why we do it…a love for the little thin skinned grape that produces such a wonderful wine. Maybe we will pick next week.

H

"Never understood a single word he said
But I helped him drink his wine.
Yes he always had some mighty fine wine." - 3 Dog Night

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Rain, rain, go away…

Yikes! Big storm in the forecast for Weds. That is not a good thing when you still have grapes hanging in the vineyard! Looks like we will be harvesting the Pommard, 115, and 777 on Tuesday morning just in the nick of time. The guys will show up at around 3:30 in the morning with headlamps and picking bins. It’s fun, but that is another post. Right now we have to be concerned with the Swan which needs more hang time before it can be picked…which means it has to weather the storm. Yesterday Mom and Miguel spent the day leafing that block which looks like this now:

Notice that all those lovely leaves that we left on the vine to prevent sunburn on the grapes are now laying on the ground. (The best laid plans…) As it turns out, with the storm coming in we now want to denude the vines of all leaves in the fruit zone so that after the storm the clusters will get good sun and air flow so that they dry out completely, hopefully preventing rot.  Great… Rot… I am not even going to go there. It also turns out that Mom hates this job even more than changing emitters. Said it made her crazy. Plugged into her favorite tunes on her iPod and she still can’t focus…that’s my Mom. She was good for about 8 rows and then went into the house to cook dinner.

And what a dinner it was! Mom’s friend Kris from high school in Greenville, MI, her hubby Dan, daughter Chris and her hubby Mark were joined last minute by our Talisman winemaker Scott and his wife Marta. Lively conversation, good food and wine and since they were all dog people I got tons of pets and belly rubs! This morning Mom and I stayed in bed until almost eight! Now she is thinking about going shopping…so much for vineyard work.

As for me, I came downstairs this morning, had breakfast and a pit stop outside and then promptly went back up to bed. Since it looks like there won’t be any vineyard work this morning I might as well get some beauty sleep. Harvest in two days! I will need the extra rest!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXo3NFqkaRM

I Love You!

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Brix

Brix (bricks): “Relative density scale used in the sugar and winemaking industry, it indicates the percent of cane sugar (sucrose) by weight (grams per 100 milliliter of water) in a solution or juice of unfermented grapes in degrees Brix (°Bx). One °Bx equals one percent (so, if grapes are picked at 20 degrees Brix they consist of 20% sugar) and, in winemaking, the alcohol concentration of the finished wine is estimated to be 0.55 times the °Bx of the grape juice.”     ’nuff said.

I know you have all seen this picture before:

That’s because at this stage of the game there are very few changes in the vineyard and not too many tasks to do except an occasional watering. What we get to do now is sit and wait until the grapes are judged ready to harvest. Presently we are at around 22 degrees Brix, and we will pick our grapes at around 23 degrees Brix. However, as luck would have it, that is not the only consideration. Around the same time that the sugar content of the grapes rise, the winemakers are also looking for well-developed seeds where the pulp of the grape has pulled away from the seed leaving it brown and crunchy. And of course the winemakers are looking for flavors that are full and ripe. As we move into October and the days get shorter there are a couple of roadblocks that can derail the project. (No big surprise there!)  As we all know, most plants react to shorter days by shutting down and preparing for dormancy…it is no different in the vineyard. Once a vineyard has shut down, the ripening process is pretty much done so it is a race to get the clusters off the vines. Rain…did I mention rain? Rain goes hand in hand with rot. The vineyard has already been “blessed” with a small shower last Sunday, with the possibility of a few more next week. But in the midst of our Northern California Indian summer the days will remain warm enough to hopefully bump up the ripening process. Just a few more days to the finish…we are estimating 10 days to 2 weeks until harvest! Keep your fingers crossed!!!

Montana

Wow! Did I have a great time in Big Sky Country! The highlight was a big hike to a mountain lake for lunch and a little fishing. It was also such a treat to spend time with my buddies, Gracie, Annie, Rambo (even though he was a bit too amorous for my taste), and their people Joe and Beth, Bill and Dottie, and Roger. Many thanks again to Joe and Beth for their hospitality!

Love and kisses, Honey

“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.” ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

P.S.  Those aren’t big bees nests, they are charcoal kilns!

“The Canyon Creek kilns produced charcoal needed to smelt ore at Glendale. These kilns today, are partially preserved and protected by State Park Officials for future historical enjoyment.”

 – http://glendalemontana.com/Artifacts%20from%20Glendale%20Montana.htm#

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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!

Honey

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

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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!

Honey

“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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