Monday, February 28, 2011

The Peacock Vineyard

One of the new vineyards I didn't get a picture taken of last week was this small 250 plant vineyard in Morgan Hill. Coming up with a nickname for a vineyard can be a little tough sometimes. It's also hard to describe them to Jerry so he knows where I'm sending him. So we might call something a fanciful name like' 'Vista Vineyard', but Jerry will know it as, "The Vineyard with the Crazy Lady'.

This new site though was pretty easy to come up with a nickname for and the nickname will be an easy way for Jerry to remember it too. A muster, and they are called musters if it's mixed males and females, of peafowls have made this backyard their home.

Here's a closer view of the lead Peacock. Peacocks are completely unafraid of humans when they are feral in California like this group. I don't know how they behave in India but here they largely ignore human's, cats, cars, and any other distractions.

Stefania and I were out at 8:00 AM Sunday morning (It was 32 degrees when we arrived) to show the owners how to prune. They had a vineyard management company who put it in and was taking care of the vineyard for them but this year they wanted to do most of the work themselves.

That's something we're happy to help out with. We'll answer emails and phone calls when they have questions and go out and show them how to do key things in the vineyard like pruning. Sunday we spent about an hour showing them how to prune these three year old vines.

The site is actually similar to our home vineyard. It's on the eastern side of the Santa Teresa hills in deep rich black clay. The vines will have a lot of vigor and yield well with little watering. The owners aren't actually sure if it was Zinfandel or Cab Franc that was installed. Their paperwork says Cab Franc, but the lead installer told them it was Zinfandel. Right now it's hard to tell the difference. It looks like Cab Franc to me. As soon as the plants get leaves I'll be able to tell the difference very quickly.

We're hoping the yield will be high enough to process the grapes on their own. Right now it's likely going into the Haut Tubee blend. In the future though with other vineyards we have coming on line it might be part of a Santa Clara Valley Cabernet blend.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saturday Vineyard Pictures

I did pretty good on Saturday, I actually took a few pictures in 2 of the 4 vineyards I visited. The 5th appointment was canceled as it was raining all day and the owner thought the vineyard was too muddy. I think the mud and rain worked to my advantage all day. Usually it's hard to stay on schedule with these types of visits as the property owners have dozens of questions.

With the rain Saturday though no one really wanted to stay outside and chat, which worked just fine for me. The first stop was a 3 acre vineyard near the Uvas Creek vineyard site. It's in the same small valley between the Santa Theresa hills and Santa Cruz Mountains that we like so much. This vineyard though was in foreclosure and has not been taken care of for two years.

The vines are black from mildew and we've nicknamed it the 'Black Hole Vineyard'. The new owners are trying to get it cleaned up and repaired. I was visiting on site to show their vineyard helper how to try and prune the vines in an attempt to recover them.

This is a closer look at just how ugly it is right now. None of the fruit was harvested last year. I doubt it could have been used with the amount of mildew on the vines. You can see there is a serious gopher problem and the trellis system is in need of a major overhaul and upgrade.

On my next two stops I didn't take pictures. The first was just about 1/2 a mile from the 'Black Hole Vineyard'. It was 250 Cab Franc plants. The vineyard was in excellent shape and the owners are just looking for someone to train them how to take care of the vines so that they can do it themselves. I'll have pictures from that one this Saturday when we go out to show them how to prune.

After that I was in Los Gatos talking with another homeowner who had just purchased a house with 40 Merlot vines in the backyard. That went fast and I had time to stop at Cooper Garrod for a visit on my way to my last appointment of the day. This is the tasting room there.

My last stop was at a 2 1/2 acre vineyard in the Mount Eden area of the Santa Cruz Mountains. This vineyard is at 900 feet and is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It would be a good addition to our Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet, so we're trying to work out a deal for the fruit this year.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Miami Pig Roast Pics II

Part II

Miami Pig Roast Pics I

No captions, just pictures -

To be continued...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Help! I have a vineyard and I don't know what to do!

It's that time of year when my phone and email start buzzing with notes from people who own small vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Clara Valley. The larger companies send out their contracts in January each year and many home vineyard owners start looking for alternatives.

I have five appointments set up for Saturday at five different vineyards. This doesn't include the vineyard we did agree to take on and install back in October. They vary in size from 100 plants to 2 1/2 acres. Two are in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA and 3 are on the Santa Clara Valley AVA and in some cases the owners aren't sure what type of grape they have.

I'll head out and take a look at each one to see if any fit our plans. Most of the time they do not and we decide not to take on the vineyard. It could be a bad trellis system, or poor location, or even that the vines haven't been cared for properly. Often though it's just a decision on the people we'll be working with. I'll try and take pictures at each one and get those up next week.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spring Release

Stefania mentioned our Spring Release in her Miami post.

She's been working away on letters this week and they should all go out by next week at the very latest. There will be three wines:

2009 Chardonnay from the Chaine d 'Or Vineyard - Santa Cruz Mountains

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Crimson Clover Vineyard - Santa Clara Valley

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains

There will be a three pack option for people who have just signed up for the list and various combos available for everyone else. The Crimson Clover Cab is somewhat limited and not everyone will be able to have an allocation on that wine.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thank You Miami

The only thing missing in this picture is a glass of wine...thank you Jorge and Mairi for a wonderful experience in Florida. This truly was one of those epic "Great Food Great Friends and Great Wine" events.

I'll be back online later with more pics per Paul's request. I had forgotten just how many shots I captured of crooked architecture in New Orleans. I was teasing Millie that it would drive a carpenter nuts to have to work with the odd angles.

Also, I have pics of our new housemates and stained glass valentine cookies to upload.

Right now though, it's back to printing the offer letters, the Spring Release will be in the mail as soon as Friday of this week.

Cheers and thanks again to the folks in Florida that hosted us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Orleans and Miami Pictures

Just a few pictures from our trip. I know Stefania has a lot more so I hope she uploads them soon.

Getting supplied up in our apartment in New Orleans for the week. Cigars and the fixings for Manhattans that we like to enjoy on afternoons in the courtyard.

Hurricane's at Pat O's. On days we weren't in our courtyard in the afternoon, we were here. They had heaters and on some afternoons we needed them.

We stay one block over from this location. We've stayed on Dauphine between Orleans and St Ann for several trips in a row now.

I think we went to Coop's 5 or 6 times in total. There is always a line now to get a table. This was a Tuesday night at 8PM.

Besides walking all the way through the Marigny and Bywater to eat at 'The Joint' on Monday we ventured out to St Bernard's Parish on Tuesday night to visit with Fay at her second job. Fay is the regular bartender at Coop's and makes the best Bloody Mary I've ever had.

Usually when we visit in October the crawfish are not in season. This time though Stefania was able to find them and order a huge basket.

As we got to the bottom of this basket of 40 or so I peeled the tails for her while she cracked the heads.

Then we were on to Miami, so a change in afternoon cocktails to Margaritas.

We had a great dinner Thursday night and Stephanie and Ari's (see the Florida Key's Girl link on our page). We also went three times to Jaguar in Coconut Grove for ceviche by the spoon.

Saturday night we were hosted at a traditional Cuban pig roast. Here's the 50 pound guy in his marinade.

The box is called a Caja China or China Box. This is the pig almost ready to come out as our host Jorge manhandles the charcoal.

And the guest of honor eating the pigs ear.

We had an amazing trip and we're already looking forward to our next trip to Florida.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Web Site Update Coming

We're in the process now of getting bids to update our site. Look for changes in the next month or two. We plan on changing the color scheme some with more greens.

The amount of content will also be reduced. When the site was first put together in 2005 we provided a lot of background information that we will now remove. The wine releases will also be better organized with data on past release on individual pages for each year.

I'm also hoping we will have a better sign up page. Our current one is unreliable and prone to errors or returning the wrong data on a successful sign up. We're also going to be integrating the blog into the website. I'm not sure if we'll move the entire blog over, I suspect we won't, but at very least we will have an RSS feed that will provide the latest blog entry on the website.

The pictures will also be refreshed on the site.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

My Mineral Hill Pictures

This is the picture Stefania was talking about. Bruce the vineyard dog and chaser of rabbits and small fury creatures with some of the rock types we pulled out of the post holes. The first one is a light volcanic pebble. Then some sandstone. Rare on this side of the mountains, and new and brittle. Then an assortment of quartz and serpentine rocks. The last one is a red jasper stone.

We also found an ancient creek bed with well worn river rock. The largest we had to pull out was about 40 pounds. The holes went down 3 feet. Below Jerry and Gil check to make sure the posts are lined up.

Gil had used a two man post hole drill before so he and I quickly had Jerry trained. I was glad though to have them doing it and avoid the wear on my shoulder.

There's a little trick to doing it. You have to drill down about a foot, then pull back out so the dirt doesn't weigh down the drill too much. I was cleaning the sides of the holes and then digging out the bottoms with a hand tool.

In about half the holes we hit either roots or large rocks that have to be dug out by hand. For that we use a cement breaker and shovel. Jerry is going back on Thursday to finish up and I'll try and check on him in the afternoon.