Monday, February 26, 2018

The saddest vineyard in Napa.

There might possibly be a worse tended to vineyard in the Napa Valley than this one, but I doubt it.  Developed in two phases, beginning in the summer of 2015, this vineyard began life as a couple of horse paddocks and continued that way for more than 30 years.  (Horses destroy soil texture through compaction.)  The soil was ripped to a depth of 5 feet with a bulldozer and then planted to Petit Verdot (clone 1058) on 1103 Paulsen rootstock.  And then, nothing; no love, no training, no water.  No water!  To say these vines are a tad physiologically delayed is a bit of an understatement.  So sad.
The property recently changed ownership and the new owners aren't quite sure what they want to do with their new vineyard.  Frankly, this poor vineyard may be beyond resuscitation, it's in such a bad condition.  And I have real doubts that Petit Verdot could ever ripen in chilly Coombsville.  We'll see.

Monday, February 19, 2018


There was a semi-interesting article from The SOMM Journal being circulated around TWWIAGE last week.  Dr. Paulo Lopes, Research and Development Manager at Amorim Cork, recently published the results of research he has been conducting into the merits of cork as a wine bottle closure.  Without going into the nuts and bolts of the process of oxidation, the gist of the article was that cork does not breathe; the only oxygen that diffuses into wine is the air trapped in a cork's nooks and crannies.  In a nutshell, or a screw cap, perhaps, the article asserts that it makes no difference if a wine is stored upright or lying on its side.  Furthermore, the article claims that it is very "liberating" when wine-myths are debunked by science.  Aah, I feel so free now.
Dr. Dick Peterson, an early California-wine industry innovator, has always maintained, well, at least since the early 1960s, that sound corks do not breathe air.  Dr. P even has a great quote about the breathlessness of cork, "Show me a cork that breathes and I'll show you a bottle of vinegar."  I'm a little sceptical of the whole premise, but I'll trust the good doctor on this.
My illustrative photograph is of a sparkling-wine cork that came out of a bottle of Chandon étoile that I popped open last Friday night.  I had assumed that the cork had done its job and had sealed the bottle perfectly, and anaerobically.  (The article states that, "the classic mushroom shape of a sparkling-wine cork is formed by its contact with CO2."  Now that's interesting.)  This particular mushroom-shaped cork had managed to transfer something to the wine though, not air but 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (TCA).  I reluctantly poured the entire, tainted bottle down the sink.  Hate when that happens.  Still, there is a happy ending.  Celebrating Vinomaker's birthday last night, a day early, I ordered a bottle of étoile at a restaurant and it was delicious.
So what does all this fuss about the oxygen transfer rate (OTR) of cork mean to the average consumer?  In my opinion, not much.  None of the information in the article is going to change anything about my wine buying/storing/drinking habits.  Some people just love to do studies and write definitive articles about their findings.  And it always helps when their findings reinforce the science behind the product they are promoting.  Ta da!
Oh, and Happy Birthday Vinomaker!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Piles of prunings.

I finished pruning and tying down Vinoland's Pinot grigio vines today.  The vines are all seemingly healthy and robust, so there was a lot of wood to prune off.  The pruned wood is now neatly piled, at each end of the rows, awaiting Vinomaker and his chipper.
I'm always filled with a moderate sense of accomplishment when I am finished with one varietal, especially when I've had a relatively straight forward time of it.  And happy that I didn't even get a blister.  Phew!
Now on to the Syrah vines...

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Bee spree.

It was a gorgeous day today, the temperature got all the way up to 71°F.  Loved it!  And it seems that there is no rain in the forecast for, perhaps, the next two weeks - love that.  It means that I should be able to proceed with my pruning uninterrupted by unpleasant weather.  I actually got a little too warm whilst pruning the Pinot grigio today.
The local honey bees are loving the warm spell also.  Vinoland's industrious bees are busy filling their pollen sacs with grains of yellowy-goodness from a multitude of weeds and wildflowers that are blooming now.  Vinoland's rosemary plants are teeming with bees.
A particular, famed groundhog may see his shadow tomorrow in Pennsylvania, presaging six more weeks of winter, but the busy-bees and I will not be too concerned.  I feel I can safely predict that winter in California will not be too protracted this year.