Sunday, May 31, 2020


Whilst working in the Pinot grigio (PG) this morning, stuffing shoots, I looked down and found an old earring of mine.  Why I looked down I do not know.  Stuffing shoots is definitely looking up through the canopy sort of work.  I am overjoyed to say the least.
I'd given up all hope of finding this earring.  I was fairly sure that it had dropped out whilst I was leaf-pulling in the PG block (almost 2 years ago).  But I had been in a vineyard that was being developed/ripped that day also, so when I noticed my earring was missing I wasn't 100% sure exactly where it had vacated my earlobe.  I looked along the rows a million times.  I contemplated buying a metal detector.  I decided the earring was a lost cause, I despaired.  They were very special earrings: Thud had bought them for me one Christmas and I wore them at my wedding to Vinomaker.  I was devastated.
Two weeks ago, I spent a whole week hoeing/hand weeding the PG block, so I had cleared a fair bit of real estate under the vines.  Didn't see a thing.  Then today, purely by chance, eureka!  None the worse for wear, just covered in Coombsville clay, I am really surprised that my filigree hoop hadn't been squashed by a tractor.  Vinomaker reckons the chickens unearthed my earring (the girls are wherever I am in the vineyard, I'm sure they think I'm the best chicken-scratcher out there).  But methinks my new guardian angel had something to do with me striking gold in the vineyard.  Thanks, mum!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Happy Hatch Day!

Hmm, I had to pick a wine today with which to fête Vinoland's feathered friends.  Yup, today is the one year anniversary of the hatching of my three original chickens; Lizzie (Lizard), Maro (Mary Rose) and Rosie (Primrose).
Just 5 weeks old when I sprang them from their cages at Rivertown Feed & Pet Country Store, they have been a constant source of amusement, and eggs, for me ever since.  I've learned a thing or two since then.  Things like, one has to be tolerant of copious amounts of poo, everywhere; and don't buy a breed of chicken that has a tendency to go broody (but if one does, be prepared for the trauma [to me] of putting a broody hen into chicken-jail).  But when all is going right, they are a joy.  And they lay breakfast, yay!
It may seem like I'm drinking a lot of value priced French wines lately (don't worry, I'm not), but this was the only wine I could find with poultry on the label.  The La Vielle Ferme, 2018 Rosé is an old supermarket-stalwart of a wine, it has been around for decades and can be usually found on the lower shelves (I paid $5.49).  The wine comes from a very reputable producer, Famille Perrin, who also own the renowned Château de Beaucastel (Châteauneuf-du-Pape).  
So how was the Hatch Day wine?  Nose - a soupçon of redcurrant maybe, not sure, rhubarb, mild hint of oregano (pronounced the English way, please) and a whiff of ozone.  Mouth - again red fruit, sour cherry this time, again rhubarb, salinity in the mid-palate and no finish.  None!   Acid?  Acceptable.  Still have to try it with food though.  Overall, a solid, uncomplicated wine.
Happy Hatch Day, girls!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Bloom abounds.

Here is Vinoland's Cabernet sauvignon (clone 4) in bloom.  The Syrah vines are at about the same stage/percentage through bloom as the Cab.
All four varieties are flowering at the same time; the Orange muscat, Pinot Grigio, Syrah and Cabernet sauvignon.  I don't think that I have known that to ever happen before.  Are two varieties late?  Are two varieties early?  Only Mother Nature knows.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Happy International Chardonnay Day!

I am not sure whether today is 'International Chardonnay Day' or 'National Chardonnay Day.'  Or just plain, old 'Chardonnay Day.'  No matter, I'm going international with a Chablis.  However, there is a Napa Valley connection with this wine.  It is imported into the United States by Boisset America, St. Helena.  (Yes, that Boisset.  See here and here and here.  The less said, the better.)
Not a huge fan of Chardonnay, I have to say I consumed a fair amount of Chablis when I was growing up, never ever taking the stuff serious.  Always bone dry, fresh, austere and a tad green, Chablis always seemed to pair well with food.  And good conversation.
The J. Moreau & Fils, 2018 Chablis (AOC), "is specially selected in each vintage from the best wines of the Chablis appellation."  Makes sense, the Boisset family own several vineyards in Burgundy.  Due to a warm, dry summer the 2018 vintage in Chablis is believed to be one of the best in quite a while.
The wine?  Nose - lemon curd, satsuma peel and Bird's Custard powder.  Mouth - pineapple, melon rind (Vinomaker says Crenshaw) and wet pebbles.  Acid?  Fab.  A very pleasant quaff.  Served as a reminder as to why I can't abide California style Chardonnay.
Oddly, the alcohol is listed as "11% to 14% by vol."  I don't even know how listing alcohol content like that is legal here in the U.S., it's a bit wishy-washy.  But that's the French for you.  À votre santé!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Bloom: 2020.

This photograph could be from any previous year on Vinsanity.  There is only so much that one can do with a photograph of a grapevine in bloom.  But this is how the Pinot grigio (PG) vines looked today, flowering away to their heart's content.  Cute, eh?  They smell good too.
The Orange muscat vines are at about the same stage as the PG which seems a little bit behind this year.  But, as I always say, Mother Nature is on her own schedule.  Berry maturation will be approximately 100 days from now.  I'm just along for the ride.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Social Distancing in the Vineyard.

I was hoping to avoid mentioning Covid-19 on Vinsanity altogether, if possible.  The coronavirus pandemic has already negatively impacted too many lives to give the darned thing any more publicity than it deserves.  (Be safe, stay healthy, peeps.)  But whilst driving out of Napa, to purchase chicken feed, I spotted this public service announcement sign in the Napa Valley College vineyard.  I suppose the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, sponsors of the sign, thought this was a simple way to illustrate safe social distancing for vineyard workers.
Being a bit of a pedant, it seems to me like this particular spacing would only work if a given vineyard was bilateral cordon trained (as in the signage).  In-row vine spacing can range from 3 to 12 feet and can be dependent on many factors; cultivar, soil fertility, canopy training system, rootstock selection, and so on.  (My Syrah vines would like 15 feet, but they have to make do with a measly 7 feet, poor babies.)  So, it looks I'm going to have to get my tape measure out to ascertain what constitutes safe distancing, between Vinodog 2 and I, in Vinoland's head-trained vineyard.  Titter, titter.
I can't think of a healthier place to be than out in the vineyard in these trying times.  But 8 feet in the vineyard and only 6 feet in the supermarket?  Hmm.  On a lighter note, I'm off outside to wrestle with the aforementioned Syrah.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


In my opinion, the leaf of the Cabernet sauvignon (CS) vine is the most distinct of all Vitis vinifera varieties.  The very deeply, almost always overlapping (appearing as if the leaf is pierced with five holes) lobes on the leaf,  including the lyre-shaped petiolar sinus, make the CS leaf very recognisable.  (This specimen, photographed this morning, is wet because it rained overnight.)  By comparison, the leaf of a Chardonnay vine has extremely shallow sinuses and a petiolar sinus which is u-shaped.  I find ampelography, the field in botany that is concerned with the identification and classification of grapevines, fascinating. 
To my mind, nowadays, it is a distinct pity that wine made from CS grapes is not always recognisable as truly varietal in character (as is the grape variety's leaf).  Reflect upon the descriptors that self proclaimed Cab-lovers use to describe their favourite Cabs; jammy, bold, chewy, fruity, chocolate-y, smoky and, sometimes even, raisin-y (heaven forbid) etc.  What happened to the true characteristics of the varietal?  The finessed, medium-bodied clarets that I cut my wine drinking-teeth on, a wine with herbaceous undertones (pyrazines), tea leaves, damp earth, mint, cherries and violets, seem to be a thing of the past.  Cabernet sauvignon, où êtes-vous?  It's a vinous-conundrum.
Living in the Napa Valley doesn't exactly help my dilemma, either.  Napa is the poster child for big, intense, overblown, super extracted and high alcohol wines that are made to be consumed early.  There isn't a hope that the current style of CS being produced in the valley is chemically capable of aging for 20-30 years.  Perhaps I'm just getting old, my tastes are changing.  I'm okay with that.  That being said, I'm off to have a glass of an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.  Cheers!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

I'm rusty.

Yes, I am blog-rusty, but not as rusty as this chunk of tuff situated underneath a drip irrigation emitter.  Stained a curious shade of orange, from the iron present in Vinoland's well water, this fractured hunk of ash-fall tuff distracted me from the job at hand.  (For more on tuff, see here.)  I've been keeping busy stuffing shoots, thinning heads and suckering trunks.  And watching this California Harvester Ant (Pogonomyrmex californicus) bopping around under a Syrah vine, fascinating.  I'm easily distracted.  Situation, normal.