Thursday, February 28, 2019

E Clampus Vitus.

Today, I wanted to write a post in celebration of a niece whose birthday it is.  (She's actually a leap-year baby, but y'know.)  Vino-niece, La Serenissima's oldest daughter, is a historian so I thought I'd do a quick Napa-history bit in her honour.  How do I possibly connect my niece, history, England, Utah and Napa together?  It could be tricky, but - with the help of an inconspicuous little plaque on the Silverado Trail, north of Yountville, against the fence of a Napa County corporation yard - I think I can pull it off.
I first spotted this modest plaque last year whilst I was stuck in traffic, but I wasn't able to photograph it until yesterday as I drove home from work on a deserted Silverado Trail.  Erected by E Clampus Vitus (ECV), Sam Brannan Chapter 1004, an organisation dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of the American West, the plaque marks the location in the Napa Valley of a World War II prisoner-of-war (POW) camp.  Apparently, the United States aided Great Britain with the detention of a surplus of POWs: Germans some of who, upon release, returned to Germany and then made their way back to eventually settle in the United States.
An interesting little history-factoid, or not?  ECV's motto is, improbably, Credo Quia Absurdum which, roughly translated from Latin, means "I believe it because it is absurd."  Titter, titter.
Happy birthday Vino-niece!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Road Closed!

It is not often that you see roads being closed to through traffic in the Napa Valley.  Essentially, with very few arterial roads in the valley for locals and tourists alike to begin with, even one road closure can cause a major headache.  After two nights of substantial rainfall, this morning's commute to TWWIAGE was problematic.  So problematic, in fact, that only the winemaker and I made it in.  I made him a pot of coffee, myself a cup of tea and proceeded to answer some voice- and emails, etc.  It was very quiet at the winery.
Sitting in a long queue of traffic, awaiting my turn to drive through the water that was streaming over a low spot on the Silverado Trail, I was able to have a good look westward to where the Napa River had breached its banks and had submerged acres and acres of vineyards.  Submerged, as in the pruned, cordon-trained vines were fully under water.  I really can't complain about Vinoland's current soggy condition after seeing that.
The Napa River peaked at 11 pm last night: there is a lot of water everywhere in the Napa Valley.  The amount of precipitation, experienced as of late, is very reminiscent of the direful rains that fell during the winter of 2017.  I'm not a big fan of rain (I may have mentioned that before), but I am thankful that this rain event was nothing like that of Napa's record rainfall, set in 1862, of 80.62 inches.  Now that would have been something for me to complain about.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Last night's tipple: 2.

I love this wine.  I first tried it at a neighbour's Christmas gathering and immediately fell head over heels.  Delicate (almost ethereal), refreshing, laden with a bowl-of-red-berries-fruitiness, crisp and gracefully balanced acidity, this was the perfect wine for sipping whilst mingling and chit-chatting.  As one would imagine, I was very happy when my party-throwing neighbour recently gifted me a couple of bottles of it.
Domaine Allimant-Laugner Brut Rose NV (Crémant d'Alsace, AOC) is produced from 100% Pinot noir, is a very pale pink (I'm thinking not much skin contact) and is perilously easy to drink.  Priced well, so it falls into my cheap and cheerful category of wines, I will certainly be stocking up on this little gem.  (I find myself enjoying sparkling wines now even more than I ever have before.)  Vinomaker wasn't quite so enamoured with this wine as I was, which I am totally fine with because it means that there is more for moi.  It's a tough job, but somebody has to imbibe in this eminently appealing Alsatian wine.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Make haste.

Some nice sunny, springlike weather today was exactly what I needed to get a start on pruning the Syrah vines.  I would have started yesterday, but the wind was just too strong.  Armed with my Felcos (actually, I grabbed a pair of Vinomaker's as I couldn't locate either of mine), and a pair of loppers for the big cuts, I headed out into the vineyard with my trusty Vinodog 2 bringing up the rear.  That was until V2 spotted the neighbour's horses.  It was then that the quiet, contemplative discipline that is pruning quickly devolved into an uproarious disturbance.  Sigh.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Golden Vineyard.

This past Tuesday, the 19th, was Vinomaker's birthday, whoo hoo!  To celebrate the anniversary of his birth, I bought yours truly, ahem, Vinomaker a bottle of Vigna Dorata Brut (Franciacorta DOCG).  I am just so good to myself him.  Titter, titter.
In all honesty not the world's most complex sparkling wine, but very enjoyable nonetheless, and seemingly a tad unbalanced on first impression, the Vigna Dorata opened up to reward the palate and nose with huge dollops of delicious appley-ness.  A blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot noir, I, I mean we, quite enjoyed this bottle of metodo classico Italian fizzy stuff.
I also gifted Vinomaker a bottle of Château Du Tariquet Bas-Armagnac.  Armagnac is one of Vinomaker's favourite after dinner tipples and this particular bottle, aged for 15 years and made exclusively from the Folle blanche grape, apparently did not disappoint.  I wouldn't know, I am not a spirits drinker, I'll have to take his word for it.  More bubbles, please.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Meteorological mélange.

In less than 24 hours Vinoland experienced an epic variety of weather; rain, hail, frost, fog and glorious sunshine.  (And an earthquake.  Just a magnitude 3.7, close to Yountville). 
It was not forecast to rain today.  And it didn't.  Instead it hailed, again.  Vinodog 2 and I were treated to a fabulous rainbow, over a neighbouring vineyard, on our rather soggy afternoon perambulation.  An interesting weather day.
I did, however, manage to get all the Orange muscat and Pinot grigio canes tied down whilst the sun was shining.  In fact, I got a little bit warm working my way from vine to vine, but I loved it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wanted: an ark.

There has been a lot of rain lately, a lot.  And I may have mentioned it once or twice before, but I really don't like rain.  I like to be able to go out and about whenever I want to, and stay dry.  Simple as that.
It really bothers me when it rains so much that the road in front of TWWIAGE vanishes under the flooding, Napa County closes said road, and then I have to navigate through the deluge to head home.  Sigh.
I must admit, it was mildly entertaining watching some motorists hit the standing water at full speed and momentarily disappear from view.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Don't start me, fuzzy-buddy.

No, stop!  I am not ready for budbreak.  This promiscuous, young Viognier vine, the only Viognier vine in Vinoland, is trying its hardest to get going for the season.  I made it my job to set the little fellow straight, but not before I finished pruning the Pinot grigio vines. 
A good example of apical dominance in Vitis vinifera, albeit a very subtle one, this stunted lateral shoot was having delusions of grandeur.  The whole unit was removed (as is all the lateral growth of this nature), but not before the prospect of an early start to the growing season gave me, well, a little start.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Brass monkey weather.

There are no monkeys in Vinoland, but if there were, well, they'd be cold.  Yesterday and today, the Napa Valley has experienced its first real frosts of the winter.  There was one chilly day after the new year, but in no way was it cold enough to discommode any cannonballs.  We have been having a good amount of rain, though.
It was a crisp 29°F when I got up, nevertheless I ventured out into the vineyard to take this photograph.  I love it.  My drive to work revealed that the Mayacamas and the Vaca Mountains both had a light dusting of snow, beautiful.  And, at the top of the valley, Mount St. Helena was adorned with a white cape.  I felt like I was in Lake Tahoe, not the Napa Valley.  Very pretty.