Monday, January 28, 2008

The Talk Tall Trees Make

the exposed tall trees by the vidal acre.

Connie's Post

Often gerald will comment on how he feels the vineyard talking to him as he tends to it—he's referring to the high hum of the wind over the cordon wires, but i suspect he hears other natural conversations as well. and no, i don't think its odd, since i've experienced it as well—the sound of birds and wildlife telling you what time of year it is or the demi-roar of the wind as it whips over the fields of corn like wind on a sea.

i heard a new conversation on sunday, as gerald measured the fallow acre with his feet. the tall trees along the vidal acre were once supported by many other tall trees until last winter, when large sums of money took down a large portion of the wooded area. the tall trees that now stand at the edge are a bit cranky, being exposed as they are. the wind rushes over the hills and bends the tall trees heads together and they grunt and squeak their dissatisfaction at their new exposure while the supporting side trees murmur their sympathies. as i walked up the hill to my husband, i gave them a nod and a rueful shrug—sorry, but knowing what was done is done.

i hope they will grow stronger.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Doors are Done.

Dad and Uncle Pete (East Coast Pete) in front of the new doors

Connie's Post:

The machine shed bay two doors were completed the weekend of 21 jan, so consider this post from the way back machine. remember when mike and his crew came down to the farm and poured the floor? that bay. as you can see, the wise guys are pretty proud of their handiwork.

momma&theboys visited her momma&dad over the three day MLK weekend, so now you know what ger does for fun when by himself. i know, i worry about him, too—but really, he only had two days of fun instead of our three. ger reports this picture is the ending of a very long project that stretched across bits of time during the fall and was undertaken by custom door wizards, dad (BB) and uncle charlie (CC, not pictured)

to create very large, very custom bay doors, the two wizards first put up three horizontal boards across the bay. then they bolted vertical boards to the horizontal boards and attached diagonal boards on the inside to maintain the integrity of the doors. they sawed the one VERY LARGE DOOR in half, vertically. then they hinged the outside of the door edges and viola! custom doors. since the two doors were once one door, they had some trouble as the designed doors were a snug fit and ended up overlapping (just a tad) each other, the top and the bottom of the bay. the doors wouldn't close all the way. so at this point, ger, dad, uncle pete took the doors off their hinges, cut a half an inch off of the top, bottom and where the doors meet to finish the project off. then they rehung the doors to a perfect fit and to the relief of all.

we are looking forward to additional dry storage of our equipment and gear!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Podcast Review: The Wine Scout

Connie's Post:

The winescout targets wine/foodie people who like to do those weekend festivals and tour wineries. i'll admit, i have a soft spot for a shoestring start-up, so when i came across wine scout and found they are a (relatively) local enterprise in glen allen, va, i gave a quick woohoo and subscribed immediately. the wine scout has an interesting premise: people can sign up their favorite wine event—possibly even special guest host their own podcast—and the wine scout then covers and posts the event.

the podcasts on itunes and in their site's catalog are audio, but if you visit their site:, you can see a featured video of fredericksburg, TX. the podcasts are older—the last podcast is from the summer of 07—but on their site, they also have more current blog posts, so i consider it still active. i like having wine scout as part of my winecast mix as the podcasts are more relaxed and cut on the fly, not as slickly produced as a few of the other podcasts i've reviewed. wow. note to wine casters everywhere: the world has enough bottles being popped or glasses clicking together as a start or finish to a podcast. resist. resist.

winescout currently covers east coast wineries and events and that's a rare thing in podcast land. i listen to winescout to hear about wineries from a consumer perspective and hear how the featured winery presents their brand, their culture and their products.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

previously, on what was once a vineyard blog—but now more like an endless review of the content on my ipod—i reviewed crushpad's crushnetTV podcasting. and while i am so in love with everything crushnet, i was disappointed that the content was not compatible with my ipod classic. i still enjoy watching it online, but there is nothing like content to go. so, i shot them a quick email, thinking i'd just alert them. here is their prompt, proactive reply:
On Jan 17, 2008 8:11 PM, Alan Baker <> wrote:
Hi Connie.
We figured out our problem but there is not an easy fix since we have to create new versions and post them. WE can do that easy enough but it means that everybody who has signed up for the feed will have to download all the new versions or they won't load...

I'm working on it though, and your feed should start synching to your ipod soon. I just need to figure out how to wrangle things in a way to cause the least hassle for you and other subscribers.

Thanks again for the heads up.

Alan Baker

so stay tuned and rest comfortable, knowing alan is diligently working the issue.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Winecast Review: Wine Spectator Videocast

Connie's Post:
I subscribe to my blogs through itunes, so the wine spectator icon will take you there but you really need to visit Wine Spectator Online as the website will completely spoil you. these vodcasts offer slick, professional produced bite (sip?) size information about a wide range of wine topics. between crushpad and wine spectator, i am learning at a rapid pace. wine spectator online has organized their videos by region, editor's tastings, wine people, learn wine, food pairing, dining & travel and special reports—so anyone can dig deep into their favorite subject or skim along all the subjects easily. wine spectator is pretty seductive for all its professionalism and the vodcasts allows me to gather information from all these wine experts and safely roll my eyes when they drop other experts names that they have studied under to establish their own credibility. and really to be fair, that also protects me and the wine professional from my own dorky questions and newbie attitude—so its a win-win all around!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Birthday Weekend

Connie's Post
January had a bitter bite as i grew up in mighty MO. Zone 5 without global warming and nothing to stop the winds sweeping off the prairies will do that to a winter month. i remember short days of white, grey and black and pressing my nose against the window, sad to see the ice that kept birthday parties with relatives to a rarity. Nowadays, january is unexpectantly warm in maryland (zone 7 and a high of 50°) and birthdays are more pleasant. before we headed down to the farm on friday, we had a momma's birthday, special edition of backwards night. backwards night is subversive element we made up when there was just boy1, and is a revered treat for boy1&2. its very simple. we go to the mall and eat an ice cream cone with sprinkles FIRST (gasp!) then ride the indoors carousel one or two times and then eat dinner. whoa! blows your mind, eh? dessert first? decadent!

i was in the mood for decadence, though, and the best part was when we had dinner at saigon cafe (pho or grilled pork?) and the boys sang to me happy birthday together. that was the best. when we arrived at the farm house, it was still cold, but ger quickly made a fire and it put us right to sleep.

today we all went to the vineyard and while gerald made plans and measurements to finish the tool shed room walls, i walked the vidal eastern vineyard to see how the sleeping vines were faring. i remember walking the vineyard the year before and thinking of what a lunar landscape we had made in taking out the big trees and burning the debris. it looks a bit different now. the vines are sleeping well and for every yellow flag there is now a post, awaiting the cordon wiring for the vines to scamper up. vegetation is growing between the vine rows, all sorts of odd plants i need to look up and some grass as well. there are blackberry shoots struggling out of the compacted earth, with purplish sticker canes and leaves. they will have to be taken care of, as they are growing in the wrong spot, but they got me to thinking. i bet at the bottom of the vineyard hill, along the deer fence, i could put in several blackberry vines. they would be situated just right to take advantage of the water run-off and they would have the benefit of full sun and being inside of a fenced off area (muha-ha). so im going to look into that further, in mid-march, when it is best to transplant them.

after gerald and boy1 finished their preparations for the tool shed room, they joined me and boy2 in the vidal vineyard and we put in the remaining posts and removed the big rocks we dug up. ger and boy1 are now back in the vineyard, working while boy2 and i remain at the farmhouse. i'm working on a logo for a friend. later on, we will have champagne and ice cream cake. heh. i've waited my whole life for a birthday like this. thanks.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Vineyard and Wine Podcast

Connie's Post:
It was the Christmas that the adults jumped up and down in glee and wonderment at their gifts and the children opened their mouths and stared at us. to be sure, the kids got great gifts, but this year, the adults received their secret hearts' desire. gerald bought me the ipod classic (wooohooo!) and swears it is as bad as the day we got wireless internet. it reminds me of dr. seuss' oh the places you'll go! book. the world is completely in the palm of my hand. i'm even starting to break gerald's resistance to the pod culture with all the cool content i'm churning up. when i first started looking into podcasting i thought the audio cast would be plenty fine. TURNS OUT I'M WRONG!! well, don't get me wrong, i still really appreciate the audio only casts of long lectures (itunesU!) or (learn spanish in 20 minute increments!)—perfect for the workday commute. but when i have downtime and can watch as well as listen, i'm all over the videocasts. i'm subscribing to tons of podcasts and as i go along, i'll let you know what i think of each.

Crushnet TV — Inside Wine Making. crushpad, the ultimate mashup between web, a brick and mortar site, vineyards and wine—think of it as wine 2.0.— brings us this truly great subscription with plenty of west coast-oriented vineyard interviews and wine making action. this weekend, ger and i watched the pruning 101 and pruning vines at eaglepoint ranch march 12 2007 episodes. it made us wistful, as our vineyard as been put to bed and lies dormant. crushnet TV takes the viewer to the vineyard, explains the process of preparing, growing and harvesting the perfect grape. then they go to crushpad, located in san francisco, and show what it takes to turn those perfect grapes into perfect wine. is a great enterprise—they provide wine enthusiasts a great education and practice in making wine at a fraction of the cost—so that anyone (most of us) that can't afford a vineyard and winery can still participate in a very satisfying and meaningful way within the wine industry. crushpad isnt just for those seeking a vanity bottling to give during the holidays. wine businesses using crushpad commerce are receiving significant attention. here is a few postings from the crushpad commerce page:

Commerce News

Wine Spectator Awards 92 Points to 2004 Jean Edwards Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard
"Intense and vibrant, with wild berry, raspberry and black cherry fruit that's vivid, rich and concentrated without being heavy or dense. Drink now through 2012. 300 cases made. —J.L."

Dain Wine Scores 92 Points
Crushpad is excited to announce that Dain Wines Brosseau Pinot Noir received 92 points from Robert Parker at a recent wine evaluation.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Belated Resolution

gerald gets his first wine barrel for christmas!
photo from

Connie's Post:
January, 2008. a happy new year to all checking in and all those who keep faithful tabs on the vineyard blog. gerald has been faithfully posting as he can in between work, the vineyard, the boys and the townie. i have to say, fiscal management and freelance absconded with any precious minutes i might have had to record the latest updates of the vineyard. it had been a rough ride. now, with an A in fiscal management and closing down my freelance business, i'm resolving to blog continuous all throughout 2008—this means harvest, crush and fermentation.

this year, i was able to gift gerald a recoopered french oak 10 gallon wine barrel from it was hard to tell who was more excited, gerald or me. it was extremely difficult to keep the barrel a secret. i had it delivered to the townie and luckily the boys&i arrived home earlier than gerald. it was comedy and chaos as we pulled up to the townie. my parents had just come up for a visit, boy1&2 were talking on my cell phone to their dad on his way home and i tore up the stairs, trying to lug the box up the three flights of stairs to the loft closet before gerald made it home. we lost my cell phone in the process and haven't been able to find it since. gerald is excited—he has been making wine without oak, as he wanted to get a baseline of what the grapes themselves had to express without it. He's thinking that this upcoming year is the year to try the additional layer of complexity that oak barrels add to the wine process. This upcoming year will be a big year, as we expect we will have enough proofing grapes to contribute to the Port of Leonardtown Winery, as we are members of the Southern Maryland Winegrowers Cooperative. stay tuned, our little vineyard is growing gang-busters!

gerald was able to get to the farm over the holidays with the girl, who hadn't been up since we practiced moving the big rusty tank into the vineyard. they built a spray boom, which i haven't seen yet, but on the tow behind the sprayer there will be a boom with two sprayer nozzles on each side. gerald will be finishing that up soon, in time for spring. on the shoestring vineyard, the largest portion of winter is preparation for the upcoming season.

this weekend, the whole family was here, but it ended up a bit raw for momma and boy 2. gerald has been reviewing the farm log from 2007. last year at this time, we had a heat wave of 72°F on January 6th. fortunately, it is not that warm this year—today's high is 43° F. but as i mentioned, there was a bite to the wind that made boy2 and momma long for the farm house, fire, and wireless internet. while boy2 and i stoked the fired, watched power ranger episodes on utube and researched kaizen events, boy1 and his dad made progress on the second bay, getting the wallboards up. they worked well with each other.

we will spend the night, tonight, and head back to attend the open house gerald's dad holds at the beginning of the year.