Sunday, September 23, 2018

Secondly, Syrah.

I was out and about with my handy dandy refractometer again today, sugar-sampling Vinoland's Syrah grapes.  The fruit looks fantastic, but it isn't ready for harvest yet.  I got a reading of 21 °Brix, and seeing as we don't harvest until the grapes are close to 25 °Brix, we have a bit of a way to go yet.  Acidity was lovely, but there's still a little green component in the flavour.  I think it's going to be a good Syrah season.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Through the refractometer window.

Today was the first sugar-sampling of the season.  Using my trusty refractometer, to ascertain the level of sugar in a small sample of Pinot grigio juice, I got a reading of 23.2 °Brix.  A good start, but the flavours aren't quite there yet.
My handheld refractometer is a very useful instrument to have around, it helps makes my job easy.  A large proportion of the soluble solids in grape juice are sugars and it is the ripeness of the fruit (the percentage Brix) that I am trying to determine.  (Fructose and glucose are the main sugars in grape juice, combining as the disaccharide, sucrose.)  The sweeter the juice, the more it will bend the light that passes through it (refraction).  It is the angle of the light, the refractive index, that when viewed through the eyepiece of the refractometer, gives the level, or measurement, of sugar (i.e., grams of sugar per 100 grams of juice) in the sample.  See, easy peasy.  I'll leave the harder part to Vinomaker; determining the acid content and pH.
It is almost harvest time.  I predict I have a busy month ahead of me.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The ruler of Vinoland.

If I'm not careful, I may become the victim of a viticultural-insurrection.  The majority of Vinoland's grapevines look like they are on track to yield their biggest crop ever this season, however, the Syrah vines look like they are vying for domination of the entire vineyard.  Whilst there are lots of average-sized clusters in the Syrah block, the vast majority are simply massive (the photograph doesn't do the largeness of the front cluster justice).  I'll probably be sleeping with one eye open until it's time to harvest the Syrah and put paid to their Machiavellian-maturation.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Behind the bunker.

Neither pink nor blue, this dainty little flower seems to be just surviving in one particular part of Vinoland's Pinot grigio block.  Tall annual willowherb, Epilobium brachycarpum, isn't usually as delicate as are the specimens I frequently pass as I am working in the vineyard.  I'm sure the extremely dry environment that these willowherbs find themselves in explains their lack of vigour.  It was hard to get a photograph of this delicately stemmed flower in today's breezy conditions.
When I hear, or see, any mention of willowherb, it instantly reminds me of being little.  Rosebay willowherb, Chamaenerion angustifolium (a sister genera to Epilobium), was probably one of the very first weeds that I identified all by myself.  (I had to take myself up to the local library in those days.).  There was always a single, rather tall example of this weed, with its fluffy seeds, to be found thriving behind the coal bunker of my childhood home.  Willowherb always evokes fond memories for me.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The story of wine-history.

In some respects, Vintage: The Story of Wine is the companion book to the masterful 1989 Hugh Johnson television series, Vintage: A History of Wine and it is what I am currently reading.
I just love the way Hugh Johnson writes, I really do.  Hugh's inimitable style of wine-writing (once again, I can hear him narrating this book in my head), is simply a joy to read; it is articulate, conversational, learned, eloquent and fun.  Mr. Johnson's writing is, dare I say it, intoxicating.  I don't think there will ever be another wine-writer as good as Hugh.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Welcome to Vinoland.

I nearly trod on this little fellow this afternoon whilst I was out promenading with Vinodog 2.  Midstride, just as I was about to put my toe down, he darted under the front of my big, cumbersome vineyard-boot-shod foot.  Whoa!  Then, when I bent down to see if Master Sceloporous occidentalis was alright, he didn't display any signs of life.  So, very carefully, I carried the tiny lizard all the way back to Vinoland.
Vinoland's newest addition, to its native western fence lizard population, has now took up residence in the space between two old pieces of concrete and, thankfully, is quite active darting hither and thither.  I hope he likes his new home.  And I hope that all of Vinoland's other lizards like him.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Happy 10th Blogiversary to me!

Vinsanity has reached double digits.  It's true, today marks a full 10 years since I started waffling on about nothing in particular - with a little bit of viticulture thrown in.  I had no idea that I had so much to ramble on about, but apparently I do.  This is my 1391st post, whoo hoo!
Thank you to the two peeps who regularly comment on Vinsanity (you know who you are), your contribution to my humble blog is much appreciated.  Discuss...
Roll on year 11!

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Just because 10...

...I love dogs - love, love, love, love, love - they're great.  And baby dogs are simply unbeatable.  Happiness, indeed, is a warm puppy.
Meet Shasta, one of a litter of five Entlebucher Sennenhund puppies, who is one calendar month old today.  All boys, Shasta and his littermates are named after mountains in North America; Rainier, Denali, Teton and Lassen complete the quintet.  Cuteness overload.
I love dogs.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Napa Valley Wine Library Association.

Today, I represented TWWIAGE at the 56th annual Napa Valley Wine Library Association (NVWLA) tasting.  Held in the Grove at Silverado Resort & Spa, this years theme was 'Designated Vineyard Wines of Napa Valley.'  It was a fun afternoon. 
The NVWLA is an organisation dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of information regarding all things wine; oenology, viticulture and wine lore, particularly as it pertains to the Napa Valley.  Membership of the NVWLA is in part responsible for maintaining and curating a "collection of popular, technical, rare, and current wine-related materials," which are a valuable resource for the "historian, vintner, writer, designer, wine buff and more."  Hmmm, I'm  wondering if I paid the George and Elsie Wood Public Library, in St. Helena, where the collection is housed, a visit would it improve my writing.  (That would probably take a miracle, not just a visit to a library.)
A well attended event, approximately seventy wineries were gathered together in the Grove pouring wines from specific vineyards throughout all of Napa's 16 American Viticultural Areas.  I had managed to procure a guest ticket for Vinomaker and, although I was the only one who was technically working, it was his job to bring me any interesting wines he thought I might like.  Which he did.  Good man!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Shake it off.

Today marks the 4th anniversary of the 6.0 earthquake that shook the Napa Valley to its core.  I'm still mourning the loss of the magnum of Havens, 2001 Syrah that I had been saving for a special dinner with friends.  I know Vinoland was lucky to get away with very little damage, just three bottles of wine in total broke, but still I find myself almost shedding a tear over spilt wine.  Sigh.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Square peg in a Walmart hole.

You say clothespins, I say clothes pegs, but I have no idea what they call the wooden things one uses to fasten laundry to a washing line on Mars.  Although I should because, apparently, I am now a Walmartian (that is, according to Vinomaker).  Sheesh!
I started to install the bird netting on the Pinot Grigio vines this past Sunday.  Halfway through this particularly tedious job, I noticed that I was getting low on the amount of clothes pegs I had left and guesstimated that I wouldn't be able to finish that day.  It wasn't until today that I had a chance to got out and buy more pegs.  But could I find any?  No.  And that's how I ended up at Walmart.  Double sheesh.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Main Street Reunion 2018.

I may have mentioned this before, so forgive me, but the annual Main Street Reunion (MSR) classic car show, held downtown in the city of Napa, is one of my very favourite yearly events to attend.  Or, should I say, it was.  The MSR is now a shadow of its former self.  The event was greatly diminished last year: this year I felt like I was watching the event in its death throes.
This year, I'd guesstimate that there were only about 50% of the number of cars that used to exhibit.  The cars in attendance were all spectacular, but I missed some of the cars that had over the years become familiar entrants.  There was no draft beer for sale (Vinomaker will not drink out of cans) and there was no food items (well, kettle corn if you can call that food) available to purchase.
Whomever is responsible for the banishment of events in the city of Napa, e.g., the Chef's Market, Food Truck Fridays, is doing a great job.  There is barely anything left that is recognisable in downtown Napa, to a local that is.  Napa has become a huge tourist mecca.  Understandably, how can local politicians look the transient-occupancy-tax-gift horse in the mouth?  I could go on...
Signed,
Disgusted in Napa.
A feeble and, possibly, final:
Vroom, vroom!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Tomato-tormentor.

Grapevines aren't the only things growing in Vinoland's vineyard.  Besides vines and weeds, a volunteer tomato (toe-mar-tow) vine has decided to grow right next to a Syrah vine.  The location, chosen no doubt so that the tomato can avail itself of the vineyard's irrigation system, poses a bit of a problem for me.  Being so anthropomorphic, I am sure the tomato will suffer if I leave it in the vineyard.  However, if I transplant it into the vegetable patch, being so late in the season, it'll probably never bear any ripe tomatoes.  Or I could just yank it out and put it in the compost bin.  Slow day.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Daily Globe.

In today's news, Vinoland's table grapes are also going through veraison.  The Red Globe grapes are enthused.  It just occurred to me that I have never posted a photograph of the Orange Muscat vines doing their veraison-thing.  Well, there's a good reason for that.  Veraison in white grapes is just not as dramatic as veraison in black grapes.  Grapes going from green to purple, versus grapes going from green to slightly less green, is way more paparazzi-worthy.
Veraison, read all about it on Vinsanity.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Colour me purple.

A little further along than I thought, the Cabernet Sauvignon (CS) vines are busy going through veraison.  A little bit of hens and chicks, but otherwise the crop looks good.  I've been preoccupied with the Syrah and the Pinot Grigio and hadn't really given the CS vines a thought.  That's all about to change, tomorrow the CS will have my undivided attention.  Well, that is until I have to put the bird-netting on the Pinot Grigio.
A woman's work...