Friday, January 18, 2019

THIS is a weed.

I had to clamber down into a gully, contort my upper body and click away blindly with my phone, arm outstretched, to get a photograph of this winsome, little weed.  It was worth it.
Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), a member of the mustard family, is a weed whose leaves grow close to the ground in a rosette.  It's not a very tall plant, it has attractive, diminutive white flowers and I just love how unassumingly delicate it seems.  Looks can be deceiving, however.  My favourite thing about this weed is the violent, spring-loaded flinging of its mature seeds if you so much as look sideways at it.  Watch out!  I do love weeds (I might have mentioned that once, or twice, before), what I don't love is weed.
I get an awful lot of unsolicited emails in my Vinsanity inbox.  Most of them are wine-related, but not all.  (I tend to simply ignore the ones that mention Muscat/Muscato, titter, titter.)  Recently, I received one untypical email three times.  Initially, the email caught my attention with the sales pitch of, "...this would be a great story for Vinsanity."  Okay.  The email, introducing a Canadian company called Sproutly, extolled the virtues of, "the world's only water-soluble cannabis solution" and asked if I would be interested in speaking with Sproutly's CEO.  Erm, no!  The only mood-altering beverage that I am interested in is wine.
Old hippies (underachievers, hedonists, common or garden losers...), in their pot-induced delirium, ascribe all sorts of miraculous attributes to weed, marijuana, pot, grass, ganga, dope, Mary Jane, etc.  Call it what you will, by any other name, cannabis is a psychoactive drug with behavioural and health ramifications.  Besides, the fact is that old hippies just smell like skunk.  And although I like the skunk as an animal, beats me why anyone would voluntarily want to stink like one.
I don't see anything hypocritical in my enjoying a glass of wine now and again, with food, and friends (and as a necessity of my job), compared to someone whose preference is to get stoned.  I personally know of a couple of people who get inebriated in this way all day long, calling it 'recreation'.  Well, I could drink all day long, but that would be called, and rightly so, 'alcoholism'.
Old hippies never die, they just smell worse by the day.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Almost famous.

I had totally forgotten all about being asked to write a review for Making Your Own MeadThen recently, whilst I was looking for an unrelated email, I came across the original email with the request for a review of what, I still think, is a great little book.  I had furnished a quick review after reading the book last April, then heard no more.  I don't consider myself a particularly good writer, so I had no expectations of Fox Chapel Publishing using my brief write-up.  However, curiosity piqued, I hopped over to Amazon and did a quick search.
Lo and behold, there it was, my review, in all its black and white glory.  Upon showing my published vino-critique to Vinomaker, he just laughed and said, "Quintessential Vinogirl."  Hey!  I resemble that remark.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Chips and spread.

Yes, here it is, the obligatory, annual, first pile-of-prunings photograph.  I managed to finish pruning Vinoland's table-grapes today.  It took me a whopping 10 minutes to prune the remaining two vines.  I was exhausted afterwards, hee, hee.  The pruning of the table grapes created a small pile of vine-prunings, small enough that I could probably pick the whole thing up quite readily with both arms.
It's a completely different story when I get to the wine-grapes. 
It still amazes me, each and every year, how much vegetative-material the vines produce.  It's a viticultural miracle that nutrients in the soil combined with water and sunshine can create so much vegetation, shoots and leaves galore.  (Well, pruning determines the number of shoots, but Mother Nature dictates shoot-length.)  And clusters of grapes on top of that.
Of course, all that pruned wood needs to be disposed of.  The Napa Valley Grape Growers outline, in their Best Practices, an online educative resource, the four main ways of disposing of prunings; chop and disc; chop and cover crop; chip with a chipper; burn like billy-o.  (I predict, in the not so distant future that burning will be banned outright in the Napa Valley, even though it is the most efficient way of disposing of grapevine material.)  In Vinoland, we chip and spread - a practice that works best for our modest vineyard operation - returning all that vegetative matter back to the ground from whence it came.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The party's over.

Yes, it is time to return to reality; time for the party muselets to be thrown away; time for the New Year.
On the whole, I've been having a pretty slow start to 2019.  I did, sort of, start pruning today - one table-grapevine to be exact - before it began to rain.  Gotta start somewhere, titter, titter, one vine at a time.
The weather has been quite damp this January and it has cramped my outdoors-style significantly.  I have, however, had time to read several books, so it hasn't been a total loss.  And it's not like the vineyard is going anywhere.  I'll get to wherever I'm going, eventually.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

The 2019 routine.

Humiliate the dog, walk through the vineyard, hang up my 2019 calendar (a complimentary calendar that comes with my subscription to American Vineyard magazine).  Wow!  It's 2019 already, how did that happen?  Next year we'll be out of the teens, crazy.
My immediate 2019 routine, well, starting pretty soon, will consist of pruning, training and other vineyard operations.  I have at least a dozen vines that need replanting due to them being dead, or dying.  And two end posts that have died and need replacing.  All fun stuff.
A happy 2019 to all!

Monday, December 31, 2018

See ya, 2018.

No messing around this New Year's Eve, Vinomaker and I planned on simply imbibing in our two favourite Champagnes.  The Widow is undoubtedly my go-to non-vintage bubbly, whilst the Cordon Rouge is most definitely Vinomaker's.  Sometimes it's good to stick with the tried-and-tested.
Vinomaker decided to blind-taste me on the two wines: nailed it.  Not that it mattered, I then proceeded in drinking equal amounts of each tipple.  It is no secret that I love bubbles.
The year 2018 is now history.  I'm hoping 2019 is the fabulous future.
A Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

December sun.

Even though, at this time of year, I always think I'd like to experience a white Christmas (snow, icicles, the whole shebang), I have to admit that a cold, but sunny, California December day is rather hard to beat.  There is nothing I like better between Christmas and the New Year celebrations than going for long walks with Vinodog 2.  I know V2 really enjoys our promenades also.
Today was no exception, strolling around V2's favourite off-leash dog area, in Alston Park on the west side of the valley, surrounded on three sides by vineyards (to further entertain me), it was cool, but not cold, and very bright.  V2 and I lingered until the sun began to dip behind the trees.
Although high winds are forecast for tomorrow, New Year's Eve, it still will be dry and sunny.  I am hoping that January 2019 will be like January 2015 when not one drop of rain fell in Napa.  Now that's my type of winter.  Shine on, sun!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Happy 85th, Vinomum!

Happy birthday, mum!  Here's to 85 pretty good years on the planet.  (And to xx of those 85 years being my, one and only, mum.)  Thank you for everything, including teaching me how to respect alcohol and, on the odd occasion, how to put rollers in my hair.  Although I can't be with you today, I am thinking of you and you can be sure I will be drinking a toast to your health this evening.  Fine and splendid!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy Christmas: 2018.

Vinomas greetings from Vinoland.  I'm sending my heartfelt, good wishes to everyone who visits Vinsanity, may your Christmas be merry and bright.  I'm wishing that everyone is surrounded by the friends, family members and poochies that bring the most joy.  I hope your tables are brimming with your favourite Christmas fare, foods and, of course, wine.
Rejoice.  And cheers!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve baking.

I spent most of my day making and baking stuff, puppy chow, bourbon balls, bread and lastly, but in no way least, mince pies.  Now I'm ready to consume some.  Making mince pies is one of my favourite Christmassy things to do, although it's always a bit of a puzzle getting the right size for the pie-tops and -bottoms.   This year, I found that a stemless wine glass was the perfect diameter for the bottoms (very innovative, me).
I love Christmas Eve; the excitement and anticipation, the lights and sounds, the traditions and memories.  A very happy Christmas Eve to all!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas beer.

Christmas cheer in a bottle, that's what I call the Anchor Brewing Company's Special Ale.  I am always a little worried that I will miss the release of this beer, however this year I needn't have been concerned.  Getting our wires crossed, Vinomaker and I both bought some Anchor Christmas ale (their 44th annual bottling).  I bought a six pack and Vinomaker bought one bottle.  But what a bottle it is.
Adorned with a Korean Pine (Pinus koraiensis) this year, the one, big bottle is massive, 50.7 fluid ounces.  Yes, folks, that is just about 1.5 litres of beer.  The bottle is heavy.  H-e-a-v-y!  It's huge.  We may have to throw a party to get rid of it.  At the very least, I see a pizza night in my future.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Napa Valley Traffic.

I have been out and about in traffic quite a fair bit this week and it's driving me crazy.  But, as of this morning, I think I am all finished with errand running and shopping trips.  If I have forgotten anything, at this point, I no longer care.  It is time for me now to really enjoy the season and stop worrying about whether or not I have enough wine, chocolate, biscuits, Brussels sprouts, etc.
Sitting in traffic, contemplating how else I could be better spending my time, I recalled some of the personalised license plates, or vanity plates, I have spotted from time to time around Napa.  I see lots of funny ones, some boring ones and some I can't even decipher.  However, I only photograph the wine/viticulture related plates.  (I hope it's not illegal to photograph license plates, oops!) 
There is nothing about being stuck in traffic that is fun, or Christmassy, but at least the Toyota had a Santa (Rosa) reference. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Cuvée.

At the end of the workday, my co-workers and I gathered together to enjoy TWWIAGE's annual Champagne tasting.  On occasion, sparkling wines may be included, but this year the choices were Français all the way.  The present lineup included; Duval-Leroy Rosé Prestige, Louis Roederer Rosé 2012, Louis Roederer Brut 2012, Palmer & Co. Blanc de Blancs, Piper Heidsieck Rare Brut 2002 and, last but not least, Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2006.
By the time I had made my way around the table, unfortunately, the Duval-Leroy bottle was empty, sigh.  I did get to taste the other five wines though; I thought one was a bit funky, one was slightly corked, two were simply nice, clean examples of the fizzy stuff.  And my favourite?  Duh, the Pol Roger, of course - the other four wines, in my opinion, just paled in comparison.  On the nose wonderfully yeasty and briochey.  On the palate fabulously toasty and appley.  Rich, complex and perfectly weighted.  No wonder Sir Winston loved Pol Roger, I do too.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Gaudete, 2018.

It is Gaudete Sunday, the third week of Advent.  My rosé of choice this year was actually given to me by my brother, Thud (when I was home last month), a mini 187 ml bottle of Mateus Rosé.
Mateus, among wine-y-types, is often the brunt of many a joke (along with mass-market brands like Blue Nun and Ripple).  But to me, and in the spirit of Gaudete, Mateus brings me joy in the reminiscing of polishing off the odd bottle, whilst watching a late night film on telly, with my Vinomum.  I'm glad that I have this fun memory.
Sing it Maddy!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Oh deer!

This evening I joined my TWWIAGE co-workers for some Christmas festiveness.  Gathering to dine up in St. Helena, the rainy night did not dampen anybody's spirits: everyone was filled with holiday cheer.  And Schramsberg bubbles.
Continuing what has been a bit of a deer theme for me this Yuletide, Mrs TWWIAGE (in her usual, inimitable and whimsical style) had picked deer-adorned, hot chocolate-mix filled mugs.  I know what I'll be drinking on Christmas Eve.