Thursday, March 22, 2018

A very British birthday.

I'm having a birthday in my native time zone.  Birthdays at home are the best.  Whoo hoo!
Thud was as good as his word, in regard to his wine stash, and found something appropriately festive in his cellar for me.  The 2013 Hindleap, Bluebell Vineyard Estates Rosé sparkling wine, a Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier blend, was a bit of a red fruit bomb.  Redolent with strawberry and Red delicious apple, the Hindleap was tasty and structured.  But, unfortunately, if I had one criticism it would be that I thought the wine was a tiny bit oxidised.
However, the real problem with this bottle of sparkling wine was the packaging.  No sooner had Thud removed the foil from the neck than the cork positively exploded from the bottle.  Not good, and the first time that either of us had ever experienced that.  The muselet had only been twisted, I'd estimate, barely a half-turn and was therefore totally ineffective at holding a cork in at high pressure.  Gave poor old Thud a bit of a start.  Still enjoyed the bubbles though.
Oh...and Happy Birthday John Toshack.
Vinogirl loves birthdays.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Get back... where I once belonged, Part 12.
Lured by the promise of some good stuff from Thud's wine stash, I am on my way back to Blighty tonight.  He'd better not be kidding me.
I am really looking forward to spending some quality time with my family.  And going back into winter, although it will technically be spring a day after I arrive.  I've packed accordingly.
Get back JoJo!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hello there handsome!

Voila!  At a little more than two weeks behind budbreak 2017 (which in turn was a bit behind budbreak 2016), Vinoland's Orange muscat vines have now made the commitment to get a start on the 2018 growing season.  This is exactly the same bud that I photographed on March 8th.  There are a few vines that are a little more advanced, but this vine is displaying a good average of all the vines.  Looking good little buddy.
Unfortunately, we have been experiencing severe frosts the past three mornings: neighbouring vineyards have been starting their (frost protection) fans anywhere from about 3.00 a.m. to 5.00 a.m.  Having no frost protection in Vinoland, I can only cross my fingers and hope that the vines won't be impacted negatively.  You're on your own little buddies, mummy loves you.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Give me a hand.

I am finished!  Pruning for 2018 is at an end in Vinoland.  And not a moment too soon, I wore out the left thumb of my favourite Stanley pruning gloves.  What a shame, they're so soft and supple.
I dodged rain showers, determined to be finished today, until I finally refused to stop further for Mother Nature and continued pruning and tying the canes down in the rain.  Dedicated, me.  I didn't need any assistance pruning this year, but I will take a round of applause.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dopey proposition.

Speaking of TWWIAGE field trips, back in January my coworkers and I went on our annual Recon Day.  Two of the three wineries we visited were repeats, Quintessa and Robert Sinskey, both pleasant wine-tasting experiences.  The other winery we visited was Piazza Del Dotto, hmm.
Piazza is the third winery in the Del Dotto family, proprietor Dave Del Dotto made a small fortune in the infomercial business and it was that small fortune that allowed Mr. Del Dotto to pursue his dream of going into the wine business.  And he did, but not without some controversy.
Piazza Del Dotto was originally going to be called Ca' Nani Winery which is Italian, apparently, for 'house of dwarfs' (in reference to an Italian folklore story related to Mr. Infomercial by his grandmother).  Del Dotto's daughter, Desirée, was quoted in a 2013 magazine article about the family's new venture as saying, "We do plan on having some little people working there."  Well, you can imagine how that was received in politically-correct California.  By 2015 the plans for the dwarf-manned winery had been scrapped.
It was interesting to watch the new winery take shape.  I remember that one the first features to be completed was the entranceway on Highway 29, resplendent with dwarf-topped pillars.  Varietal wines had already been released with different short-limbed characters on the labels; jovial, wine-loving characters, but dwarfs just the same.  You just can't make this stuff up.
On our visit to the winery, when I questioned our young host about a vague recollection I had of drinking a Sauvignon blanc with a dwarf-adorned label he totally denied it.  Sore point, perhaps?  I didn't think too much more about it, until I remembered where I had tasted the wine.  A few days later, taking a little detour with Vinodog 2, I called on a neighbour and asked if they had any bottles of Del Dotto Sauvignon blanc left.  "Sure," my neighbour said, "let me get you one."  Titter, titter.
Whilst it is in part true that the Napa Valley is rapidly in danger of becoming a theme park, I, for one, am not ready for it to become Disneyland just yet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Seguin Moreau.

This morning some of my TWWIAGE coworkers and I took a quick field trip to Seguin Moreau Napa Cooperage (SMNC).  I can't believe that I haven't visited a cooperage before today (Vinomaker has visited both SMNC and Demptos).  SMNC don't normally host tours at their Napa facility, however TWWIAGE purchase quite a few barrels from this particular cooperage, so special dispensation was granted.
Visiting SMNC was absolutely fascinating.  I have read plenty about the forests where the oak is grown and harvested; how the timber is aged, exposed to the elements for at least 2 years; the stages of wine-barrel construction and the whole toasting process.  But all that reading did not prepare me for just how interesting it was to witness the entire smoky, aromatic operation in person.
SMNC can produce about 100 barrels a day.  If the process is done entirely by hand SMNC can only make 30 barrels a day: it takes 7 years of making barrels by hand before one can be considered a master cooper.  Brilliant.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Having a swell time too.

Not to be outdone by the Orange Muscat, bud swell is now proceeding nicely in the Pinot grigio (PG) vines.  I had meant to have a look at the PG vines on Sunday, but I simply run out of daylight (despite the beginning of Daylight Savings Time).  Then yesterday, when I got home from work, it was raining so heavily that, after taking V2 for a quick walk, I wasn't sufficiently interested in bud swell to warrant hanging around in a soggy vineyard.  So today it was: and, lo and behold, I once again have some enthusiastic little PG buddies.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Having a swell time?

I finished pruning, and tying down, Vinoland's Syrah vines this past Sunday and then immediately started pruning the Cabernet Sauvignon vines.  Busy, busy, busy.  Just as I finished pruning for the day today, I had a quick look in the Orange muscat vines to see if anything was happening.  Sure enough, my little buddies are awakening and the buds are beginning to swell open.  Exciting.