Friday, October 14, 2011

So You Think You Want A Vineyard?

Part I-IV So You Think You Want A Vineyard?

Part V – The Second Year (Fall 2011)

Determined to learn from his tyro based mistakes, our intrepid vintner got serious about spraying this last growing season – copious amounts of wettable sulfur were applied on a two week schedule, resulting in virtually NO powdery mildew. You all know from reading Rhett Gadke’s last blog entry about the lack of a real summer AGAIN in the Napa and Sonoma valleys. However, the still immature but rapidly growing Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot filled nicely, some making gigantic 12 to 15 foot long vines off the cordons. While another vine was lost to our mortal enemy Mr. Gopher, the infestation was lessened this year with the application of a heretofore unknown (at lest to me) methodology – road flares. While expensive, they are very effective, penetrating far into the tunnel system and keeping the rodent population under third world levels.

BTW, check out the coolest ever method for eliminating gophers – I think I’ve found my retirement job.

So, for a second leaf guy, the question is always the same: Keep what little fruit you get, or drop it all? Noting that there were at least 400 pounds of grapes developing on the vines, I decided to harvest what I could either add to my neighbor’s Cabernet Sauvignon crush or just make rose.

However, my poor neighbor got whacked AGAIN with a massive powdery mildew infection, destroying nearly 95% of his crop. So, rose it is. However, between the quail, mourning doves and blue jays, coupled with a light rain that produced botrytis (bunch rot), I ended up with about 200 pounds of fruit – coupled with my neighbor’s five whole pounds makes about 10 gallons of rose must. Next year, either bird netting or I’m going to get a falcon…the red-tailed hawks around my property are too well fed to bother coming to work every day.

So now we wait – two weeks into it and the must is at about 8 degrees brix – and still bubbling away. Hope to have wine by turkey day. Next year is the first real harvest. Just have to get that air-conditioned building put up now.

--Craig House, CFO/COO

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