Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Get back... where I once belonged, Part 8.
I may, or may not, take advantage of Merseyrail's services in the next fortnight.  Yup, I'm on my way home to Blighty once more. Whoo hoo!
And if by chance I do get on a train in Liverpool I'll be on my own: Thud hasn't used public transport in 35 plus years.
Posts on Vinsanity might be few and far between.  Holiday here I come.
Get back JoJo!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bank Holiday Monday.

It's Easter Monday.  Well, it is Easter Monday, a bank holiday, in England (and Canada).  When I was little everywhere (shops, post office etc., and the banks, of course) basically shut down for the entire four days of Easter.  Easter was a time for family get-togethers.  I find 'holidays' in America are over way too fast.  It is certainly not a holiday for me today, as I am off to work in just a while.
A sort of Easter miracle happened in Vinoland yesterday: I finished pruning, yay!  (And tying everything down with help from Vinomaker.) And not a moment too soon, the Cabernet sauvignon vines are enthused. I was getting a little worried that I wouldn't be finished, but the weather was perfect for pruning.  It feels good to be finished.  I even managed to get a little bit of suckering done in the Pinot grigio because, as usual with this grape variety, the vigorous little devils have pushed a myriad of adventitious buds out all over their trunks.
Of course, with warm weather and clear skies comes the threat of spring frosts.  Indeed, as I type the fans (for frost protection) in the nearby Far Niente Chardonnay vineyard are doing their thing.  A precautionary step, perhaps, as the temperature is currently 39°F and too warm for frost.  I have done my bit, having no frost protection in Vinoland my little buddies are now on their own.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter, 2016.

Happy Easter everyone!
Vinodog 2 wasn't quite sure about donning her new bunny ears this morning, perhaps the brown colour was a little too realistic. Nevertheless, here she is being all festive, well, sort of.  I think she looks a little humiliated.  Or maybe she is just disappointed - disappointed that she didn't get to have coffee and Cadbury's Creme Eggs for breakfast.
Eat chocolate!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Good Friday.

And it was a good Friday.  I spent most of my day down in the East Bay running errands and having my hair done.  (One just has to look good when working in the vineyard).  I did a little bit of pruning when I got back up to Napa, walked Vinodog 2 and then observed my Good Friday paschal fast with a nice shrimp/pasta dish - washed down with a Silverado Vineyards, 2014 Sauvignon Blanc (Yountville AVA).  Hardly fasting, I know.
I have to be finished with pruning the Cabernet sauvignon grapevines this Sunday, that includes tying all the canes down.  I think I can do it, but I may need Vinomaker's help with the tying. Meanwhile, the Pinot grigio vines are going crazy: baby flower clusters are visible and the trunks are popping out all over with adventitious buds and shoots (which means lots of extra suckering work).  Happy spring!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Birthday: 2016.

I had the pleasure of having another birthday today, whoo hoo!  I turned 29, again - it's a birthday miracle!
Really good day; good pressies (even got a gopher trap), good food, good drink (including two bottles of bubbles) and good weather.
I did a tiny bit of work (in the vineyard); had lunch out (at the Oxbow); went wine tasting (Goosecross Cellars); did my favourite walk with V2 (down at the Napa River); had dinner out (Ca' Momi, Napa).  Busy, busy having fun, thanks to Vinomaker.
Oh...and Happy Birthday John Toshack.
Vinogirl loves birthdays.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Like a bug in a rug.

My constant companion today, well, at least whilst I was pruning one particular Cabernet sauvignon vine, was this ladybird who wandered up, down, in, out and all over the vine's peeling bark.  Totally unconcerned with the fact that I was chopping and snipping with loppers and secateurs close by, this lonesome convergent lady beetle would sometimes find an apparently perfect little nook to snuggle down into.  I checked back a few times over the next couple of hours and the ladybird was still wandering about in a fashion that did not seem to be in the least bit aimless.
However, this ladybird is not alone.  I have noticed a lot of ladybirds in the vineyard the past three days, certainly more than the last 3 or 4 years. Like everything in life, insect population dynamics are cyclical (with increases and decreases due to many and varying factors).  It seems that the Hippodamia convergens population in Vinoland is experiencing an upswing.  Bodes well for pest management.
Pruning is going well, even if it going a little slower than I would like.  My hands hurt, but, unfortunately, it is forecast to rain most of the day tomorrow, so I might be forced to take a day off.  First day of spring, indeed.  Humph!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mo' wine choice in Napa.

At 6.00 pm sharp, in lieu of a ribbon cutting ceremony, a bottle of Champagne was sabered (the severed cork and bottleneck can be seen on the left) in celebration of the grand opening of a new BevMo in Napa.
It's about time.  Napa has been sorely in need of a wine/liquor store since JV Wine & Spirits closed down almost 4 years ago.  BevMo, a Bay Area company, has 158 stores in total and up until today my local BevMo was the store in Walnut Creek.  The Napa location is a welcome arrival, very convenient.  Local dignitaries were on hand; wine flowed, cheese cubed, coupons redeemed.  And yes, Vinomaker and I managed to find a bottle, or six, that we just had to have. Then we went to a sushi restaurant.
I began pruning the Cabernet Sauvignon vines this morning and my hands hurt already - the wood is just so much harder than the other three grape varieties that grow here in Vinoland. However, the weather was pain free and fabulous - high 70s as promised.  I had finished tying down the Syrah canes on Tuesday after work, so today's cooperative-weather meant I could concentrate fully on pruning.  A good day.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Singing, and tying, in the rain.

It didn't stop raining once today, so I donned my rain jacket and out into vineyard I went to tie down the Syrah canes.  Unfortunately, I didn't manage to finish - I'd estimate that I am about 80% done.  And I did indeed sing in the rain (a little Nana Mouskouri).  I began by singing to Vinodog 2, but she soon was off chasing squirrels, barking at passing deer and harassing our neighbours horses.  So I sang to myself.
The Orange Muscat vines are progressing very nicely, I just wish they could get a little sunshine.  I hear that towards the end of this coming week that the temps will be up into the mid to high 70s, so it looks like my wish will be granted.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Child Abuse.

I love children.  I believe myself a very lucky Vino-auntie to have 14 of the very best nieces and nephews on the planet.  Eight girls and six boys in total.  However, just of late, I have been seriously considering committing a crime that is considered a felony in the United States.  Relax, nothing as heinous as homicide, no, just a little common or garden child abuse.  I have decided that it may be worth doing some porridge in return for venting my displeasure - at the amount of rain that I have had to suffer through the past two weeks - with El Niño.  And it's not just about me, look at what that titchy, wet-whippersnapper is doing to my Pinot grigio buddies.  My bud-babies are all soggy.
This morning, after getting up at the break of day, having breakfast, starting a load of laundry and walking Vinodog 2, I managed to finish pruning the Syrah vines.  Yay!  And I got about 25% of the canes tied down.  Double yay!  It was wet, muddy, slippery work.  The weather forecast was correct as in it started to rain promptly at 11 am and then, once again, I was banished from the vineyard at the behest of some snotty, little meteorological-brat.  Now, where is that baseball bat?  I feel a Ramones moment coming on.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Don't let the Syrah catch you crying.

Don't be fooled by the sunniness of this photograph - the sun was only out long enough for me to take this snap.  And that was it, in the blink of an aperture it was gone again.
I hadn't once thought about panicking this pruning-season, until yesterday that is.  All day, nonstop rain had me near tears (well, sort of) because things out in the vineyard are progressing whether I am out there pruning or not.  Since last week, the Syrah vines have decided to swell their little buds to almost breaking point, so frustrating.  I had considered just putting waterproofs on and pruning in the rain, but the constant downpour was just too torrential.  February had been so nice, I thought I had started to prune early enough to give myself plenty of time to prune all of Vinoland's grapevines.  Wrong!
I had just over 3 hours (according to the weather forecast on my iPhone) to prune as much as I could this afternoon.  (There was one, very heavy, five minute shower, but Vinodog 2 and I just sat in the back of the barn and waited for it to pass by.)  Amazingly, I did fairly well: I pruned like a Vinogirl possessed.  I just have one short, experimental row of cordon trained vines to go, but I am determined to also get all of the canes tied down before the end of the weekend. Rain, rain go away...

Sunday, March 06, 2016


It has rained and rained the past two days and there is more to come, sigh. On my way out for a walk with Vinodog 2 this morning, a quick check of Vinoland's rain gauge indicated that 4 inches of the wet stuff had fallen on me (I am taking it personal) in a little over 24 hours.  My weekend has been a disaster as far as pruning is concerned, I only managed to get a small number of Syrah vines pruned.  I feel like I am falling behind on my pruning schedule, so, yes, I am taking this ungodly amount of rainfall personal.  So is Vinomaker.
First thing this morning the sun was actually shining, but just for a little while.  As I was making breakfast I looked out to see if all that rain had had any effect on the creek that runs along the eastern edge of Vinoland. As it happens, I couldn't see the creek because during the night a huge oak tree had fallen across the creek just missing the Pinot grigio vines. On looking closer, I realised that a second tree had fallen, behind the first one, and had just missed crushing a neighbours fence.
Vinomaker is gutted, storm-felled trees are a lot of work.  He has been very busy the past few weeks removing sweet broom, acacia and an out of control bramble patch from the creek area - the last thing he wanted, I am sure, is the amount of chainsawing and chipping that removing these two trees will necessitate.  Me? All that I could think of was how toasty all that firewood will make me feel on a future, cold winter's night.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Orange you glad it's budbreak?

It was a busy day in the neighbourhood, well, this morning at least, then rain stopped play. And it rained hard all afternoon.  I did not manage to get anything pruned today and the forecast for the weekend is less than favourable for that particular vineyard activity.
The Far Niente vineyard crew have been pruning up a storm since Monday and thankfully, for them, it looks like they finished early this afternoon.  Interestingly, they did not pre-prune (aka double pruning or delayed pruning) this year, instead they pruned all the way down to two bud spurs to finish the job.  Probably the reason why they have been pruning in the one vineyard all week.
The general viticultural-consensus has it that pre-pruning can help stave off infection from Eutypa lata, a fungal disease of the grapevine. This year, the vineyard manager at TWWIAGE has also decided to forego pre-pruning in favour of a quick application of a fungicide, at pruning, that will hopefully prevent new infection in spurs and cordons.
It did stay dry long enough this morning for me to notice that budbreak has well and truly begun in the Orange Muscat vines (slightly later than last year), and bud swell in the Pinot grigio.  I need to get my skates on. Or, perhaps, a pair of water skis.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

It's July already.

It is July Muscat time already.  When I got home from work last night, Vinomaker suggested that I take a peek at Vinoland's table grapes. Confound it, not that I'm an expert or anything, but I'd say that my one, white table grapevine is going through budbreak.  Sigh.
In my haste, last weekend, to prune through as much of the Syrah as I possibly could I didn't even think to check the table grapes.  There are three table grape vines in Vinoland; July Muscat, Crimson Seedless and Red Globe.  The budwood for these vines came from a small demonstration vineyard that used to grow alongside the student vineyard at Napa Valley College (alas, bulldozed out years ago), so I am a tad sentimentally attached to these vines.  The three vines are prolific producers, most years bearing more fruit than Vinomaker and I can eat ourselves, so we share.  I will be pruning this vine today to ensure we have an abundance of table grapes in the summer.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Dewi Sant: 2016.

Happy St. David's Day!
The threat of a full on El Niño year for California was apparently just that, a threat.  There has been quite a bit of rain this winter, but not the amount that was forecast: February's weather was simply spectacular. Temperatures in the the mid-70s all month were very springlike, just gorgeous.  (We have not had the need for any type of heating in Vinoland for the past 11 days.) Consequently, Vinoland's daffodils all flowered early this winter and it was hard for me to find a perfect bloom to photograph - hence the rather bedraggled, dog-eared daffodil represented here on today's post.  There possibly could have been a better specimen just outside Vinoland's gates, but I didn't want to venture that far in my pyjamas.  Wouldn't want to frighten the neighbours so early in the morning, would I?  Nope.
Bore da!