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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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September…

time for cider and doughnuts, harvest (we hope) and fly fishing! Mom’s niece Melissa, who is pregnant is taking care of the cider and doughnuts for the moment (wink), harvest is churning along as we patiently wait for ripening of our grapes and Dad is on his yearly fly fishing expedition with his friend Will from school days at U of M and a couple of Will’s buddies from Ann Arbor. This time they are in Yellowstone. Mom got this email this morning:

“We got into the park yesterday afternoon and fished the Lamar, but got skunked.   Going to do a hike up the Lamar today a few miles off the road to hopefully get away from the crowds.  Still a fair number of people here, altho’ it is the weekend.  Weather is beautiful–high 70’s–and lots of hoppers when you walk through the meadows.   It’s the bug of choice per the fly shop people, but I guess the trout in the Lamar didn’t get the memo.
We hiked about a mile to the Lamar across a rolling meadow from the road.  Coming back there was a herd of 10 antelope that kept slightly ahead of us but didn’t completely spook.  Paul was a ways behind Will and I, and could see up a bluff that we were coming up and spotted a wolf!  Very disappointed that I didn’t get to see it. Shortly after that,  while we were getting out of our waders, a ranger showed up with a tracking antenna and told us it was a young male that had a collar on.  He could track it in the hills across the road but we couldn’t spot it.   Saw lots of buffalo and elk on the drive back at dusk.  This place is friggin beautiful!
Give the little missus a good belly rub for me and I send you a telepathic kiss!   T
_____
Yesterday she received this email from Graciebutt’s Dad. Joe and Beth are staying at a place on the Big Hole in Montana.

“A big hole has sucked the water out of the Big Hole! This is lowest I have ever seen it. The big run off from the giant snow melt washed away at least five feet of bank behind the private home on the back 40. Wading was much easier. There are actually more holes to fish this year. 
I hooked three on a #12 attractor pattern. The bug of choice remains the parachute Adams. I hooked several small fish on it. Beth caught two. We did not even put on a nymph today. Geoge says a size #14 Bead Head Prince is the way to go.
 

We did land a big brown today. A buck hit the attractor at the end of the riffle. My guess is he went 18 inches. If someone will bring a tape we can measure Beth’s net.  The fish had to bend to get it in. 

The weather is….in a word….beautiful. Near 78 degrees. 

No moose sightings as of 3:30 MDT. We did see a Bald Eagle fly up the channel late yesterday evening. More deer than you would care to count. No antelope on the property yet but we saw a ton on the way up from Dillon yesterday. 

Well, time to check out the upper 40.” 

Sounds like they are all having a really good time. As for me, I got breakfast but no belly rub yet. Now we have to go check the emitters in the vineyard. Each block is getting a 10 hour deep watering. Sometimes the emitters get clogged with iron and other mysterious goo. This is the job Mom loves the most. She gets all wet and crabby. Oh well…maybe I will get a big belly rub later.

So as we head off into the vineyard I will keep one image in my mind. Graciebutt, Annie, and me in Montana! Love, Honey

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Verasion!

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,

Honey

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

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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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