Sunday, May 24, 2020

Bloom abounds.

Here is Vinoland's Cabernet sauvignon (clone 4) in bloom.  The Syrah vines are at about the same percentage through bloom as the Cab.
All four varieties are flowering at the same time; the Orange muscat, Pinot Grigio, Syrah and Cabernet sauvignon.  I don't think that I have known that to ever happen before.  Are two varieties late?  Are two varieties early?  Only Mother Nature knows.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Happy International Chardonnay Day!

I am not sure whether today is 'International Chardonnay Day' or 'National Chardonnay Day.'  Or just plain, old 'Chardonnay Day.'  No matter, I'm going international with a Chablis.  However, there is a Napa Valley connection with this wine.  It is imported into the United States by Boisset America, St. Helena.  (Yes, that Boisset.  See here and here and here.  The less said, the better.)
Not a huge fan of Chardonnay, I have to say I consumed a fair amount of Chablis when I was growing up, never ever taking the stuff serious.  Always bone dry, fresh, austere and a tad green, Chablis always seemed to pair well with food.  And good conversation.
The J. Moreau & Fils, 2018 Chablis (AOC), "is specially selected in each vintage from the best wines of the Chablis appellation."  Makes sense, the Boisset family own several vineyards in Burgundy.  Due to a warm, dry summer the 2018 vintage in Chablis is believed to be one of the best in quite a while.
The wine?  Nose - lemon curd, satsuma peel and Bird's Custard powder.  Mouth - pineapple, melon rind (Vinomaker says Crenshaw) and wet pebbles.  Acid?  Fab.  A very pleasant quaff.  Served as a reminder as to why I can't abide California style Chardonnay.
Oddly, the alcohol is listed as "11% to 14% by vol."  I don't even know how listing alcohol content like that is legal here in the U.S., it's a bit wishy-washy.  But that's the French for you.  À votre santé!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Bloom: 2020.

This photograph could be from any previous year on Vinsanity.  There is only so much that you can do with a photograph of a grapevine in bloom.  But this is how the Pinot grigio (PG) vines looked today, flowering away to their heart's content.  Cute, eh?  They smell good too.
The Orange muscat vines are at about the same stage as the PG which seems a little bit behind this year.  But, as I always say, Mother Nature is on her own schedule.  Berry maturation will be approximately 100 days from now.  I'm just along for the ride.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Social Distancing in the Vineyard.

I was hoping to avoid mentioning Covid-19 on Vinsanity altogether, if possible.  The coronavirus pandemic has already negatively impacted too many lives to give the darned thing any more publicity than it deserves.  (Be safe, stay healthy, peeps.)  But whilst driving out of Napa, to purchase chicken feed, I spotted this public service announcement sign in the Napa Valley College vineyard.  I suppose the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, sponsors of the sign, thought this was a simple way to illustrate safe social distancing for vineyard workers.
Being a bit of a pedant, it seems to me like this particular spacing would only work if a given vineyard was bilateral cordon trained (as in the signage).  In-row vine spacing can range from 3 to 12 feet and can be dependent on many factors; cultivar, soil fertility, canopy training system, rootstock selection, and so on.  (My Syrah vines would like 15 feet, but they have to make do with a measly 7 feet, poor babies.)  So, it looks I'm going to have to get my tape measure out to ascertain what constitutes safe distancing, between Vinodog 2 and I, in Vinoland's head-trained vineyard.  Titter, titter.
I can't think of a healthier place to be than out in the vineyard in these trying times.  But 8 feet in the vineyard and only 6 feet in the supermarket?  Hmm.  On a lighter note, I'm off outside to wrestle with the aforementioned Syrah.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


In my opinion, the leaf of the Cabernet sauvignon (CS) vine is the most distinct of all Vitis vinifera varieties.  The very deeply, almost always overlapping (appearing as if the leaf is pierced with five holes) lobes on the leaf,  including the lyre-shaped petiolar sinus, make the CS leaf very recognisable.  (This specimen, photographed this morning, is wet because it rained overnight.)  By comparison, the leaf of a Chardonnay vine has extremely shallow sinuses and a petiolar sinus which is u-shaped.  I find ampelography, the field in botany that is concerned with the identification and classification of grapevines, fascinating. 
To my mind, nowadays, it is a distinct pity that wine made from CS grapes is not always recognisable as truly varietal in character (as is the grape variety's leaf).  Reflect upon the descriptors that self proclaimed Cab-lovers use to describe their favourite Cabs; jammy, bold, chewy, fruity, chocolate-y, smoky and, sometimes even, raisin-y (heaven forbid) etc.  What happened to the true characteristics of the varietal?  The finessed, medium-bodied clarets that I cut my wine drinking-teeth on, a wine with herbaceous undertones (pyrazines), tea leaves, damp earth, mint, cherries and violets, seem to be a thing of the past.  Cabernet sauvignon, où êtes-vous?  It's a vinous-conundrum.
Living in the Napa Valley doesn't exactly help my dilemma, either.  Napa is the poster child for big, intense, overblown, super extracted and high alcohol wines that are made to be consumed early.  There isn't a hope that the current style of CS being produced in the valley is chemically capable of aging for 20-30 years.  Perhaps I'm just getting old, my tastes are changing.  I'm okay with that.  That being said, I'm off to have a glass of an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.  Cheers!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

I'm rusty.

Yes, I am blog-rusty, but not as rusty as this chunk of tuff situated underneath a drip irrigation emitter.  Stained a curious shade of orange, from the iron present in Vinoland's well water, this fractured hunk of ash-fall tuff distracted me from the job at hand.  (For more on tuff, see here.)  I've been keeping busy stuffing shoots, thinning heads and suckering trunks.  And watching this California Harvester Ant (Pogonomyrmex californicus) bopping around under a Syrah vine, fascinating.  I'm easily distracted.  Situation, normal.

Monday, April 13, 2020

A cluster of budbreaks: 2020.

The last one to the budbreak-party is, as per usual, the Cabernet sauvignon (CS).  A little tardy (like my blog-recording of budbreak dates for the other Vinoland grape varieties this year), but when the CS finally shows up its little fuzzy buds are always blushing and winsome.  My excuse is that I was busy with pruning, only finishing on March 21st.
Here is the approximate (yup, like I said I was preoccupied) dates of Vinoland's other 2020 budbreaks;
Orange muscat:  February 26th.
Pinot grigio:  March 4th.
Syrah:  March 25th.
There you have it.  2020 on the record.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Happy 2020 from V2.

It's a fact.  I have been rather conspicuous in my absence from posting on Vinsanity, but I'm hoping to remedy that in 2020.  Besides, my little party animal, Vinodog 2, wanted to wish everyone, out in the blogosphere, a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.  And who am I to resist her requests.  So here she is, with her 2020 vision.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Commercial harvest.

Harvest 2019 began at TWWIAGE today.  Thirty-odd tons of one of our growers best Sauvignon blanc (SB) grapes showed up, first thing this morning, to kick off the 2019 vintage.  After a quick blessing of the grapes, it was into the presses for processing; a two hour procedure that gently squeezes out the sweet, juicy-deliciousness that is destined to be a glass of something chilled and refreshing in my hand, oh, in about April 2020.  Love SB harvest.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Pegging along.

It's that time of year again - bird netting time.  Yup, the Pinot grigio (PG) grapes are ripening as I type.  Many apologies, in advance, to my feathered friends, but we wouldn't be friends for long if you ate all my grapes.
The more than welcome warm, to hot, temperatures this month (the warmest weather all summer, actually), have ensured that the PG grapes are accumulating sugar at a steady rate.  If I've said it once I've said it a million times, installing bird netting is my least favourite vineyard operation.  Netting is a tedious task, getting way too up close and personal with creepy crawlies in the canopy is one major issue for me, but it is absolutely necessary if I want of harvest the fruits of my labour.  So, peg on Vinogirl!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

New girls.

Not to let stupid Lynx rufus get the better of me, I once again drove over to Sonoma to purchase a few new chicks.  It seemed the right thing to do.  Meet my Ameracauna, Buff Orpington and, yes, another Barred Plymouth Rock.  In keeping with my, fairly new, tradition of naming chickens after Henry VIII's warships, meet Anne Gallant (Annie), Pansy (er, Pansy) and Henri Grâce à Dieu (Gracie).
Only hatched on August 8th, they are younger and a lot smaller than Vinoland's first batch of chicks.  But, guess what?  I love them already.

Friday, August 23, 2019


These two feathers are all that remains of Minion (AKA Minnie).  In broad daylight, a despicable bobcat (Lynx rufus) nabbed my super-friendly, favourite chicken Minnie and ran off with her up the hill away from the house.  Caught in the act, the bobcat dropped Minnie and slipped through the deer fencing to safety, because if I'd caught it's scrawny, tawny ass...Minnie died in my arms.  I'm very sad.
RIP, Minnie.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Main Street Reunion 2019.

I still love this event.  Today, downtown Napa hosted the Main Street Reunion (MSR), 2019.  Once again, this year, diminished in size compared to how it once was, the MSR is still a lot of fun.  I didn't think I'd want to attend this year, but as the date neared I couldn't resist.
I'm getting quite familiar with some of the same exhibitors that show up every year (that I have attended).  And rather than becoming bored with seeing the same cars year after year, I find myself actively seeking out old favourites.  Familiarity does not breed contempt in me, rather the opposite in fact.  I wouldn't ignore an old friend.  Especially one that weighs about 4,000 lbs of vintage American steel.
Look at those flames.  Sizzle, crackle and pop!
Vroom, vroom!

Monday, August 12, 2019

CS: Veraison, 2019.

Always bringing up the rear, Vinoland's Cabernet sauvignon has deemed it the right time to begin to start the process of veraison.  Clone 4, as I may have mentioned before, was not the best clonal selection to make for a Coombsville vineyard.  It is so cool here, compared to other Napa Valley AVAs, that it is a struggle to get these darned grapes ripe every year.  Takes quite a bit of extra work with canopy management etc., but we always get there, together, in the end.  Well, we'll see what sort of ripeness this year brings.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Wouldn't be a show without Punch.

Not to be outdone, like Punch in a Punch and Judy puppet show, the Pinot grigio vines are hot on the heels of the Syrah in the veraison-department.  Of course, they will be harvested before the Syrah - lower sugar and higher acid - they will be white wine, after all.
The fruit is looking quite charming.  I'm looking forward to tasting it as the sugar accumulates over the next several weeks.  Grapevines are just wonderful plants.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Veraison days are here again...

..."The skies above are clear again, So let's sing a song of cheer again, Veraison days are here again."
Yup, it was a bit of a slow start to the 2019 growing season, with all the rain and the cool temperatures, but the Syrah (SY) grapes are beginning to ripen.  Actually, the SY probably got enthused about a week ago (and some of the vines are less advanced than the one photographed) but, as usual, I've been rather distracted.  So despite reports of delayed development, even perhaps up to two weeks for some growers, here in Vinoland Mother Nature is working here magic right on time.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Fourth of July Party Animal.

Here is V2, being all festive and patriotic as befits the celebration of America's birthday.  Any excuse for a party, which just means an excuse to eat human food - hotdogs, burgers, chips and dip, potato/pasta salad - anything she can get her paws on, or her teeth into.  My furbaby's not fussy when it comes to food.
God bless the United States of America and its humble, quaint culinary traditions.  (All good when washed down with something tasty in the wine department.)
Oh...and God save the Queen!

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

I'm a mother-clucker.

Speaking of babies, besides being Vinodog 2's dogmum, I recently became the mother of quadruplets - four bouncing baby chickens. Hatched on May 29th, I purchased the chicks at Rivertown Feed & Pet Country Store in Petaluma, Sonoma. (Shockingly, they're not hip Napa-chicks.)  I had a fun time driving over to the other valley.
The chicks are four different breeds; a Golden Sexlink, a Rhode Island Red, a Silver Laced Wyandotte and a Barred Plymouth Rock.  I named them after Henry VIII's warships, (seeing as ships are female, like hens), so I have a Mary Rose (Maro), Primrose (Rosie), Lizard (Lizzie) and Minion (Minnie).  Aren't they adorable?  I love them already.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Pregnant pause.

It's been a while: I've been busy.  My absence, whilst not as lengthy as a real pregnancy, has seen a good deal of fruitfulness - out in the vineyard.  My babies are looking good.  Pictured here is a cluster of Cabernet sauvignon grapettes.  Fruit set looks great, weather conditions have been favourable and there doesn't seem to be much evidence of shatter.  I always feel a sense of achievement at fruit set, but especially when the set looks as good as it does this season.  I am aware that a lot of crazy stuff can still happen between now and harvest, but I've been doing this for a while now and I feel confident saying that 2019 looks like it's going to be a really good vintage.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A satisfying Sangiovese.

Tonight it was time to drink the Pestoni Family, 2017 Sangiovese that I purchased at the winery's tasting room on May 15th.  Paired with something suitably Italian and tomato based for dinner, this was a simply lovely wine.  Quite savory and peppery, with lots of red fruit and dried herbs this wine went great with dinner.  The acidity?  Did I mention the acidity?  Lovely, strident and joy producing the acidity was perfect with my pasta and red sauce.  I must go and purchase some more: always nice to have a domestic Sangiovese in the cellar when pasta is on the menu.