Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yet another one for the team.

In my mother's day, school children were expected to know the name of every last piece of fabric in the parish church, from the priest's vestments on down to each and every linen that adorned the altar and the chalice, et cetera. This wasn't the case in my school days, but I did know that the decorative 'tablecloth' on the altar was called the fair linen.
The fair linen that bedecks the altar in the St. Helena Roman Catholic Church is, as one would expect in the Napa Valley, decorated with grapes. Today, as my adorable baby nephew was baptised, I allowed myself the time to reflect upon the loving workmanship that went into embroidering this particular fair linen, and the symbolism that had been captured with every faithful and careful stitch....then it was home for lots of dead cow paired with copious amounts of Vinomaker's wine.
Life is good.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hands across the water.

Reinforcements have arrived. Eight various family members have arrived from Old Blighty to bolster Vinogirl's position amongst her colonial cousins. The past several days have seen the family unwinding, basking and relaxing in the warm California sun.
It has long been understood that there is a very close association between England and the United States of America. However, our shared transatlantic solidarity has been tested in recent years, least of all by the bothersome ejection, from the Oval office, of a bust of my True Wine Lover 1 by the current Chardonnay-swilling resident of a certain large, white building in Washington DC. So, I personally found it somewhat encouraging to see this bottle of Side By Side Pinot grigio in a local supermarket.
Proceeds from the sales of this wine benefit a very worthy cause: Azalea Charities provide comfort and relief items for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are sick, injured or wounded from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, if you are reading this in California, Nevada or Arizona go to your local Fresh & Easy supermarket today and buy a bottle of Side By Side.
Remember, freedom isn't free.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Look at this face, isn't it adorable? Gladys, a 7 year old chihuahua, was one of the dogs available for adoption at the 2011 Napa Humane's Cause for a Paws event, held at Silverado Country Club, which Vinomaker and I attended this afternoon. I had threatened to come home with a third Vinodog, and although Gladys was cute, she was just too small for life in Vinoland...sigh!
This is one of Vinomaker's favourite, if not his favourite, wine and food event of the year and it benefits an excellent cause. I enjoyed myself immensely; great weather, good food, and lots of nice wines to sample. However, I do think the winery that was pouring the goldfish bowl water - we're all familiar with the aroma, y'know the warm, algae, fish poop thing - masquerading as a Sauvignon blanc, was taking the whole pet theme a bit too far....yikes! There is now a dead patch of rough on the thirteenth fairway.
People, please, don't buy a pedigree. Adopt a mongrel, today!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


One mother quail and a covey of 16 baby quails, successfully hatched, last seen heading through the Cabernet sauvignon vines towards the creek. But, watch out for that racoon! Duck, there's a hawk! And, whilst you're dodging deathly hazards...leave my grapes alone.
God speed, little ones.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hedging your bets.

Just in case anybody else had the idea of using the surname of Boyd for their new winery, the Boyd Family have applied for 'fictitious business name statements' of every boring, but possible permutation for their eponymously named winery. I'd have stuck with 'Big Old Yellow Dog Winery', if they'd asked little old me. Or, is that little ol' me?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Home Winemakers Classic 2011.

Today, Vinomaker and I attended the 29th annual Home Winemakers Classic, this year hosted at Charles Krug - a vast improvement over last years venue. This is one of my favourite wine events of the year and I really look forward to it. It was even more fun this year, as many good, wine-loving friends also showed up, including Sky King, The St. Helena Grape Growers, and the Zin Guy. (The Zin Guy has not previously been featured on Vinsanity, but is the person solely responsible for keeping Vinomaker and me stocked up with a particular Zinfandel - a must have in the cooler months for pairing with my chili con carne.)
As always, this event is a great opportunity to see what local home winemakers are up to, as well as a chance to hang out with friends, network, raise money for the Dry Creek-Lokya VFD, and just generally spend a relaxing wine-themed Saturday afternoon.
Pictured is one of my favourite wines. The group of winemakers that make the Leap of Faith wine (and a delicious port also), consistently turn out a product that I would actually drink, if it was commercially available that is - and I love their label, one of the more professional looking labels adorning the plethora of homemade wines available to taste. It is nice to meet people who are passionate about making wine, who in this case are not in the winemaking game for profit, but simply for the love of the grape.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The cork is in.

Another successful bottling event at Vinoland today. That's four down and two to go, (Vinomaker made a lot of wine in 2009). The various vineyard owners, on leaving Vinoland, were very happy farmers indeed.
The above photograph shows a partial order of corks, (at the winery where I am gainfully employed), destined to be the closure of choice for bottling a Cabernet sauvignon, also 2009. Each box contains 5,000 corks. In Vinoland we purchase our corks in bags of 1,000 at a time, and have only gone through 2,500 up to this point. Economies of scale.
The humble cork was first utilised as a stopper by the ancient Egyptians. Later, it was popularised by a certain French monk who made sparkling wine. Then in the 18th century, cork finally began to be commercially produced as a wine closure by the enterprising Portuguese - who coincidentally just so happened to grow copious amounts of cork oaks.
Cork is renewable - the trees are harvested approximately every 9 years. Cork is recyclable - flooring, place mats, sandals, you name it. Cork is romantic - a sommelier cracking open a screw cap during ones candlelit, $200 per head dinner just doesn't cut it.
Cork: renewable, recyclable...and romantic: thank you Mother Nature. Go ahead, pop a cork today.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


This is not a bowl of peas, it is some of the first crop of Pinot gris grapes from Vinoland's most recent expansion. Lovely looking berries - nice fruit set, good yield, no powdery mildew - all torn from the caring embrace of their mother vine's canopy and tossed onto the harsh, dry vineyard floor. (I can get a bit dramatic sometimes, forgive me.) It does seem a shame to discard such healthy young grapes, but it a necessary step in the development of new vines where the focus needs to be on encouraging leaf and root growth. Actually, I should have performed this vineyard operation a lot earlier, when the clusters were flowers not fledgling grapes, but as usual I'm a bit behind with stuff. Better late than never!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

A baker's dozen, plus three.

With what is fast becoming an annual tradition on Vinsanity (here and here), I present the 2011 Vinoland Callipepla californica nest spotting.
I only learned of the location of Mama quail's nest when I accidentally flushed her out of it whilst watering the shrubbery by my front door. Papa quail has been busy out and about around Vinoland, but getting up quite close to him today I noticed he had been got at! The back of his neck is as bald as a coot; his pretty, sleek grey-blue feathers gone...poor thing. And soon he will be responsible for 16 little ones. Perhaps I should offer him a glass of wine.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Independence Day.

Dear Motherland,
Do not fret, I haven't forsaken you. However, I do like a good party. So, on this 4th of July, the anniversary of the United States of America's declaration of independence from merry old England, please forgive me for breaking bread and sharing wine with our colonial cousins.
Rule, Britannia!
Lots of love,
P.S. Oh...and God save the Queen!

Friday, July 01, 2011

The superior vena vino.

One down, one to go.
The first day, of two successive days, of bottling in Vinoland was a success. The St. Helena crew reported for duty and were immediately charged with the task of getting their 2009 wine into the bottles that Vinomaker had sourced.
The St. Helena, clone 7 Cabernet sauvignon had been blended with a small percentage of Cabernet franc and Merlot, a blend which Vinomaker and I had decided on prior to today's activities. Blending is a fun, even if at times a little exasperating, exercise and one finds that most wines benefit from a little something different thrown in.
Everything went smoothly and after a quick mid-day repast (with wine), some very happy winegrowers left for home with their trucks heavily loaded up with the fermented version of the fruits of their labour.