Sir Winston Curchill.
Happy St. George's Day to my family, friends and anyone who loves England as much as I do.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Happy Easter to all.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
When salsify goes to seed the fruiting head resembles that of a dandelion with a large, fuzzy ball of seeds that disperse on the wind. This efficient dispersal of seed accounts for the success of salsify's reappearance, and rebirth, every spring. Appropriate for Easter methinks.
Friday, April 18, 2014
First, there is 'Necklace' - a junco with a very exaggerated ring of light-coloured feathers, akin to a mayoral chain of office, on his chest. Then there is 'Spectacles' - a dapper little fellow with a pronounced ring of lightly pigmented feathers around each eye, just like he is wearing a pair of reading glasses. And last, but not least, my favourite, 'Mr. Beakly' - a curious little birdie with muddled pigmentation on his chest and a Mallen Streak on his head. But most notable of Mr. Beakly's somatic-anomalies is his malformed beak (a junco's beak should be almost finch-like). And it seems like his beak is continually growing because when last I saw him his lower mandible seemed even larger than usual. My little mutant isn't at all shy and lets me get quite close to him as he scoffs up seeds with a peculiar sideways action. I just think he's great. Alas, I have eagerly awaited his reappearance for the past few weeks now, but to no avail.
Who knows how old Mr. Beakly was when I first noticed him: unfortunately, nature may have just simply run it's course and Mr. B is now swapping seed-plundering stories and perfectly pigmented wing feathers with avian-angels. I just miss my little twitterer.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
If each of us had a crystal ball life would be so simple. And predictable. Without a crystal ball, one thing that isn't predictable is at what age is the best age to drink a favourite wine one may have been saving for a special occasion. A crystal ball would allow one to drink all wine at it's peak, not too late and not too soon either.
Today, I was reminded of my crystal ball/wine theory when a co-worker at TWWIAGE read me an email that she had just received. The gist of the email was this: a man and his wife had recently opened a bottle of TWWIAGE wine for their anniversary. They had owned the wine for at least ten years. The wine was "spoiled" and they were very disappointed. In the interests of good consumer relations, they expected TWWIAGE to make the unhappy situation good by sending them a replacement, gratis, as they were sure that the winery would want them to enjoy TWWIAGE wine at it's most palatable. And by the way, they had poured the wine down the drain and thrown the bottle away.
On hearing this my first reaction was, well, disbelief. It took me a little while to process the absurdity of the situation. What a cheeky request. What if this was a scam? What if this gentleman sent a similar email to 300 Napa Valley wineries and just 10% of those wineries took the bait and sent him a free bottle of wine for fear of getting a bad 'Yelp' review, or something. The whole thing smacked of extortion.
If, on the other hand, the email was legitimate it raised the question: is the wine-drinking public justified in having the expectation that any bottle of wine is guaranteed by a winery indefinitely? To what extent is the consumer responsible for the spoilage of a long cellared bottle of wine? I've racked my brain, but I can't think of any other perishable food item that is guaranteed for life.
A reply email was sent from TWWIAGE apologising for the disappointment caused; inquiring as to what vintage the wine had been, where had it been purchased, but regretfully declining, in the nicest possible way, without the option of the winery being able to do a chemical analysis on the dregs, the expectation that the wine was going to be replaced. Of course, Mr. Cheeky emailed back to say he was astounded that a winery with such a high reputation wouldn't replace his bottle of wine - a bottle that he couldn't prove existed in the first place. Brazen to the last.
I can, however, guarantee that the wine with the grotty cork, in the above photograph, is past it's best. And I decided that without the benefit of a crystal ball. Easy peasy.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Identifying this particular wildflower turned out to be a little difficult. Of course it is obviously very iris-like, but the two most common native Californian irises that I identified, in a couple of native plant guides I possess in my smallish reference library, happen to be the Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana) and the Western Blueflag Iris (Iris missouriensis). Neither of these irises are really considered to be wild flowers as often they have simply just escaped cultivation. So I turned to the internet to do some further research and I am 99% sure that my, quite diminutive, iris is the Bowltube Iris (Iris macrosiphon). Found on slopes and in woodlands, the flowering stalk on the bowltube is much shorter (and stalk-less) than the attending leaves, a feature which distinguishes this iris from the aforementioned two. The iris in the photograph is rather close to the ground, it's leaves being more than twice it's height.
One interesting snippet of information about this iris is that it was a source of fibre for Native Americans who harvested the leaves to produce cordage that they used to make bird nets, fish nets, deer snares and other useful items. I am not going to be ripping the foliage from this agreeable little flower any time soon, as I want it to reappear next year (and I think it may be the only one of it's kind in Vinoland). So flower on little weed.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Today, at last, and for the next 5 day extended weather outlook, there is no rain in the forecast. So, and not a moment too soon, the vines received their first application of sulphur for the season. I was starting to get a bit worried about the Orange muscat vines which have a good 10-12 inches of growth already - they should have had two, preventative sulphur treatments (to ward off powdery mildew infection) by now, but the weather has not been cooperating. Ho hum.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
The technical name for this phenomenon is guttation. Grapevines experiencing rapid spring growth can exhibit guttation under high moisture conditions - diffusion pressure builds inside the plant because of high soil moisture and a low rate of transpiration due to high humidity. The built up pressure is released by exuding water and minerals from specialised cells...voila, grape pearls. Apparently, pearls occur on some grape varieties more than others, which probably explains why I have seen then mainly on the Orange muscat vines.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
It was a pretty easy process as the Cabernet sauvignon vines are still slumbering. The cooler weather this week has slowed things down a bit, so I'm predicting that budbreak won't happen for another 4 or 5 days yet.
Also, got a couple of dead vines removed (thank you, Vinomaker) and filled the holes (that Vinomaker dug) with new, baby vines. The photograph shows, but not very well (I should have used a different background), one of the extracted vines which has a deep, 11" split along the lower half of it's trunk. Did this split cause the death of this vine? No, I'm sure this vine had just run it's natural course and the split occurred postmortem. Hate when that happens. But I love it when I have finished pruning.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
As is our tradition, Vinomaker and I like to surprise each other with a visit to a new restaurant on the other one's birthday. My surprise eatery this birthday was Lulu's Kitchen at 1313 Main. 1313 Main is a wine bar/lounge located at 1313 Main St. in downtown Napa.
And as is our tradition, our wine choices for the evening were from the 'Wine by the Glass' wine list - not as extensive as at some other restaurants, but nevertheless we found enough variety to keep us entertained. And the wines were;
Weingut Knoll, "Lobiner" 2012 Grüner Veltliner, Federspiel, Wachau, Austria.
Terre Rouge, 2012 Viognier, Amador County, California.
Xarmant Txakolina, 2012 Hondarabbi Zuri, Arabako Txakolina, Spain.
Gamling & McDuck, 2010 Cabernet Franc, Napa, California.
Lioco, "Satira" 2011 Carignan, Mendocino County, California.
Muga Reserva, 2009 Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain.
The tapas-style small plates we paired with these wines were all fairly decent, but really nothing to write home about. I enjoyed myself, but I'm not in a hurry to revisit Lulu's, there are so many more restaurants in the valley to try.
Thank you Vinomaker for an enjoyable birthday evening.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Oh...and Happy Birthday John Toshack.
Vinogirl loves birthdays.
Friday, March 21, 2014
One distraction was a huge cluster of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) that just looked so splendid I had to get a closer peep. The poppies got going a little later this year, because of the lack of winter rain, but they are now blooming spectacularly en masse. And they are everywhere: this year's crop is perhaps the most prolific display of full-on-poppy-goldiness I have ever seen. There should be plenty still blooming by California Poppy Day, which is April 6th.
Then I got distracted by a crab spider (Misumenoides formosipes) who in turn was distracted by a small, pollen covered beetle. The beetle flew off and I went back to pruning.