Sunday, February 28, 2016

Vineyard chic.

I am still pruning.  I didn't get as much pruning done this weekend as I had hoped: too much other stuff to do.  I am about 70% through pruning the Syrah vines, but I am thinking that I am still on track to finish pruning all the black grapes (that includes the Cabernet Sauvignon), and tying them down, before budbreak begins. Fingers crossed.
I may be a little behind on my self-imposed pruning schedule this year, but with a new pair of Felco secateurs, a customised holster and a pink Vinogirly girl belt - I am doing it in style.
Prune on!

Friday, February 26, 2016

A pop of colour.

It's a bit early to celebrate California Poppy Day (April 6th), but this happens to be the first poppy to bloom in Vinoland this year and I think it is at least worth a mention.  This afternoon, I was busily pruning away in the Syrah vines when I looked up and spotted this poppy flowering away all by its lonesome.  Well, there was a tiny, pollen-covered Amartus tinctus beetle crawling along the edge of one of the poppy's petals, but no other buds had deigned to open and keep this single, fiery-hued flower company.  California poppies grow like weeds almost everywhere in and around Vinoland as they are prolific self-seeders.
The poppy is not the only splash of colour in Vinoland; there are field marigolds, vinca, vetch, buttercups, oxalis, speedwell (all the usual weed-suspects) flourishing already, but none are quite as eye-catching as the California state flower. Pruning is progressing better than expected due to the fact that the weather has been behaving itself.  Still, pruning can be pretty monotonous, so it's nice to now and again look up from a vine and spot such a cheery bloom.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


I finished pruning the Pinot grigio vines on Vinomaker's birthday, this past Friday.  Today I finished tying all the Pinot grigio canes down.  It feels good to be finished with the white grapevines already.
It was a gorgeous day, a bone-warming 65°F, so I decided to start pruning the Syrah vines.  I didn't get very far though before it was time to take Vinodog 2 for a walk.  On my way past the Orange muscat vines I noticed that bud swell has begun.  It's happening, right now!  And so another vintage begins: my viticultural-clock is ticking.  Sigh.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Not boaring.

Not in the least boring was Vinomaker's birthday dinner last night at the Rutherford Grill, Rutherford.  The place was absolutely heaving with diners when we arrived, it was a good job that we had reservations.  Food was great; a surprisingly, for me, tasty Brussels sprout appetizer (Brussels sprouts are an obsession of Vinomaker's), a tri-tip/butternut squash enchilada combo for Vinomaker and a seared ahi tuna platter for me (it was a Friday in Lent, after all).  The Rutherford Grill's 'By the Glass' menu is a little paltry, but Vinomaker managed to amuse himself with a glass each of; a Ledson 2014 Viognier (Sonoma Coast AVA); a Swanson 2014 Pinot grigio (Oakville AVA) and a Pride Mountain Vineyards 2012 Merlot (Napa/Sonoma AVA).  I had one glass of sparkling wine to celebrate the anniversary of Vinomaker's birth, a Domaine Carneros 2011 Brut (Carneros AVA).  And plenty of Rutherford Grill 2016 Tap Water (Rutherford AVA).  A fun dinner.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Spring Mountain District AVA.

It has been over a year since I last did a post on the American Viticultural Area (AVA) signs in the Napa Valley.  How did that happen?  I know I have been a little busy, but so busy that a whole year has passed, sheesh! To remedy that I offer up, for the reader's delectation, the Spring Mountain District AVA sign.
The Spring Mountain District (an area, not a peak) was officially established as an AVA in 1993.  Located on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, on the western side of the Napa Valley, this AVA encompasses about 8,600 acres on elevations that range from 400 feet, beginning down in St. Helena, to 2,600 feet at the top.  Up there, one feels like the Napa Valley is a million miles away.
Today is Vinomaker's birthday and so, as is our tradition, we decided to go winetasting.  Usually it is me who chooses which winery to visit, as a surprise, but this year Vinomaker requested that we visit Pride Mountain Winery.  Pride produces a lovely Merlot that we have both enjoyed over the years, but neither of us had ever visited the winery, so we loaded ourselves into the Vino-mobile and headed north.  Driving six miles from the valley floor, up through the Spring Mountain District AVA, to an elevation of 2,200 feet, over the Napa County line and into Sonoma County, an hour after leaving Vinoland and a half mile downhill into Sonoma County, we eventually arrived at Pride.
Pride's winery and vineyards actually straddle both Napa and Sonoma counties (there is a cobblestone-strip in the pavement outside the winery's caves that delineates the boundary).  An interesting fact is that Pride has to specify on their wine labels the percentage of grapes from each county.  And, of course, Pride has to make sure they pay the correct taxes to each county.
The tasting and tour at Pride was a really nice experience, in no small part due to the hospitable Nikki who hosted our small group of eight Pride-enthusiasts.  Vinomaker was a little disappointed that they had already sold out of their 2014 Viognier, (total production for Pride is approximately 18,000 cases a year), but Nikki assuaged Vinomaker's fear of going Viognier-less on his birthday by treating him to a tank-sample of Pride's soon to be bottled 2015 - he was delighted.
Great wines, nice facility, interesting history, genial host, wonderful drive up the mossy-ferny-redwoody-winding Spring Mountain on a grey, drizzly day.  Good fun.
Happy birthday Vinomaker!
Nine down, seven to go.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy St. Valentine's Day: 2016.

There haven't been many posts on Vinsanity of late.  Why?  Well, I have been busy being busy and being sick.  But the primary reason is that I have been suffering from being short on inspiration.
Pruning is coming along slow but sure.  This Pinot grigio tendril wanted to wish everyone a wonderful St. Valentine's Day - it was being romantic.
Happy St. Valentine's Day to you all.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Happy Lunar New Year!

Who on earth would argue with the profound observations that are oft contained within the American fortune cookie?  Not me.  Besides, I think this crunchy-prognostication is spot on.
I would love to be home (England) right now, being festive and enjoying big plates of braised chicken feet and char siu cheong fun with my sister-in-law.  One slightly stale fortune cookie is not an adequate substitute for a butt load (technical term) of delicious dim sum.
Gung hei fat choi to you all!

Friday, February 05, 2016

Pruning 2016.

The planets aligned for me today; the weather was beautifully sunny, I managed to get my errands finished earlier than expected and I had a couple of hours with no other pressing demands upon my time.  So, without further ado, I started to prune the Orange Muscat vines. It felt good to be out in the vineyard.  Vinoland's 2016 pruning season has begun.  It is a later start to pruning for me than last year, but better late than never.