Sunday, September 23, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

What Haven't I Stomped?

Connie's Post
Just the reds left, now. three weeks ago, we stomped the seyval. the following week we stomped the marsanne. this past weekend we harvested and crushed the vidal and viognier. for gerald's birthday, i purchased Oz Clark's Grapes and Wines. its a great book, full of grapey traits, terrain and history. love the intro paintings, truly. so i thought i'd quote and comment upon oz regarding the white grapes we are growing.

Marsanne. oz calls marsanne and roussance the saimese twins of white rhone grapes, of which the marsanne is long reputed to be the clumsier of the sisters, but oz sees her inner beauty. the wine the marsanne makes is best drunk young (minerally, citrus peachy flavour, unless they are ripened fully on the vine. the wine produced from fully ripened grapes, when aged a good while, become "darker in colour and more complex in flavour. (aromatic, honeysuckle, oily nutty and heavyweight)" mmmm. we had fully ripened marsanne. i wonder if i could wait? but you have to be careful. in too hot a climate(!) you get a flabby wine. in too cool a climate (heh, not here) its bland and simple.

Vidal. wow. oz gives a small paragraph for our french hybrid. vidal was my favorite, a while back, before seyval vied for my attentions. he states vidal's big claim to fame is its use in canadian icewine, nice but without the elegance of riesling icewines. i dunno. give me its "four square appeal." my brother just gave my best friend forever, walsh, a bottle of canadian vidal icewine. i was impressed. i'm angling for a taste of the sweet stuff, but at the same time my brother gifted me a lovely bottle of spanish red, so i have no complaints. but i will be on the lookout at wegman's for my own bottle....

Viognier. oz reveres our norma jean and calls her a "silver screen sex symbol that many wanted, but few could have," and describes her thus:
If you wanted serious swooning wine, with teture as soft and thick as apricot juice, perfume as optimistic and uplifting as mayblossom, and savoury sour creamy richness like a dollop of creme fraiche straight from the ladle of a smiling farmer's wife—in other words, a wine which just oozed sex and sensuality—Condrieu, from Viognier grape, was it.
if that wasn't enough, in the historical background, oz writes its rumored that viognier takes its name from via gehannae, the road to hell. gehenna is the name given to the main public rubbish tip in jerusalem. a silver screen goddess from hell....yeh. that's inspiration in a bottle.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

First of the Harvest and Crush

is there a prettier sight? here is the seyval a week before harvest.

Connie's Post:

Football, freelance and domestic chores kept momma and the boys at home the august 19-20th weekend, so lyrel stepped in and helped bring in the seyval harvest. the seyval is the earliest grape we harvest in the proofing vineyard. gerald measured 35 pounds of the grapes from the one row and thinks he may have dropped too much fruit when he went through the row to thin excess clusters. as a result, it didn't take long to harvest, but they were able to break in the harvest knives i gave to gerald for christmas. LUCKY! even better was the lack of rain to mess with the variety's development. shortly after harvest, we received 2.5 inches of rain over two weeks, so not too bad. the other varieties will wait until september to harvest and gerald is happy about that. he worries about the nights being too warm for the ripening. i still worry about rain. please stay away, tropical storms. we'd like to continue to have good harvests.

they brought the harvest back to the farmhouse and cousin charles was named godlet of stomp. here you see lyrel and charles having a great time with the crush. gerald says the 35 pounds of seyval equaled 2.2 gallons of precious juice to be turned into wine. no. odds are you aren't going to find this nectar of the gods at your local wine purveyor. currently, it is in the fermentation stages. this year, we are handling the crush and fermentation at the farmhouse. continuing with the great shoestring vineyard tradition, we have neighbors stopping by to give the wine in making a stir and check the specific gravity. lyrel has loaned us the craft room (move over, kiln!) and set gerald up with an air conditioning unit to regulate the temperature better.

here is to the start of a better year!

Our Net Gains, Part Deux

spider-vineyard man, spider-vineyard man, does whatever a spider-vineyard man...can....

Connie's Post:
As you may remember in a previous post, we added bicycle rims to each row's end post to help facilitate the netting of the proofing rows. we pulled the netting out of storage and placed them along the edge of the rows, under dad's careful supervision.

peter then scooped up the edge of the netting with a board and we drug the nets across the wheels and then down the vineyard rows. at first we were pleased, the wheels worked according to plan, but the dragging soon showed disadvantages.

number 1 on this hit chart was the constant hitting snags. at first, we worked patiently with the catching on the protruding nails, hammering the nails back down or the catching on bark of the locust posts, carefully tugging back the netting from the post. soon, however, our patience ran thin and it became quite aggravating. not only did you have the snagging, but you had to be careful with the netting staying in place over the rows—one slip over and you had to work together and throw the netting back over the side. boy1 became a big help, guiding the netting over the wheel and keeping the initial snagging to a minimum.

finally, after many grunt, shouts, grumbles and a few reworks, the job finished. here is pete, again, but this time with a swimming pool cleaner. yeh. anything goes at the shoestring vineyard. we aren't sure we will use the dragging method next year. there was talk of going back to laying the nets down the rows and then throwing them over the rows. it isn't an easy job, but the results are worth it.

Getting in on the Ground Floor

randy outside the machine shed at the outset of the project.

Gerald's Post

nine yards of fiber reinforced concrete...

mike and his buddy r. form it up before it sets...

cleanup after a solid day's work...

the newly finished shop floor.

note the six inch lip marking where a storage room will be.

and thanks to Mike M. and his buddy from wVa for their help. See you in another ten or so Mike.