Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I'm thinking this bunch of grapes is going to make a fabulous wine. This time of year it seems the grape bunches can change color in a matter of hours. I'm sure it's my imagination, but there are times during my evening walk through the vineyard I can swear the grapes have purpled up more since the morning. They do not have much sugar in them yet, so although they are beginning to take on adult beauty, they taste very sour. Last year we harvested over the Labor Day Weekend, so in the next 4-5 weeks the vines will be finishing up this season's work.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer Visitor!

This has been a very wet summer for us. The storms keep barreling in. Last Saturday as Tim and I were standing on the front porch watching a storm roll in this little (not so little) tarantula decided to join us. We watched her progress for as long as we could. When we started getting wet we went inside and later wondered where this little beauty ended up.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I was reluctant to enter this blog post until I was sure it was a done deal. Or at least was moving in the right direction. Especially considering the experience with last year's sparkling project. You may recall that last year there was problem with the compatibility of the bottle and the closure. It was not tight and the secondary fermentation was not contained leading to serious leakage as the youthful sparkler built up pressure in the bottles. Well this year after scouting out a bunch of suppliers and running some test bottle fermentations, I had a winner. A couple weeks ago Joan and I bottled the 2007 vintage sparkling Chardonnay and Nebbiolo Rose. I address some of the technical aspects of this winemaking adventure in the July Winemaker's notes for those of you who are interested. If all goes well and so far so good - namely no overwhelming smell of spilled fermenting wine in the winery, I will have a dozen or so cases of each available during the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years holidays this year.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Tempranillo derives its name from the Spanish word temprano which means early. Early in terms of ripening and as it turns out fairly early in terms of beginning to turn purple. The viticultural term for this phase in a wine grape's cycle is veraison. This is when the birds and pests begin to get very interested in the fruit. Prior to now grapes are just too sour and bitter. But the beginning of turning color marks the beginning of the softening of the grape skin and the beginning of accumulation of sugar. This week was the first hint of the Tempranillo turning color. The Syrah will be close behind and before we know it harvest will be upon us.

Monday, July 14, 2008

More Vineyard Romance!

It has been raining for the last couple of weeks. We will be posting pictures of the rain and how happy the grape vines are! There has been no hail to date so I am also happy. Today I wanted to show a side of vineyard life that is not much talked about. The vines do not stop needing attention. They continue to call for me when I would rather stay inside. I get wet out there! Since I am not exactly a tall person, even when the rains have stopped the vines continue to drip water as I work. And the soil, oh boy, the soil! It has a clay component that gets both slippery and sticky when wet. As I try to keep a sure footing the clay clings to my boot. It both adds a couple of inches to my height and weighs me down! Romance? You decide.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Doesn't quite capture

The monsoon rains are a magical time of year and now that they have started the storms never cease to amaze me in the variety of weather experiences they provide - rain and lots of it for sure, threat of hail that damages grapes, dramatic lightning and thunder storms, and swirling skies with eerie light and shadows. This past weekend a storm was quickly moving through as the sun was setting behind the Santa Rita Mountains and cast a strange light on everything. It was not the typical brilliant explosion of oranges, reds, and yellows, but rather a piercing pure white light on a background of dozens of shades of grey. Our sign was lit up in a way that it has never looked so I snapped this shot. The picture doesn't quite capture . . . .

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


So much is happening in the vineyard this time of year. As a farmer it’s a challenge to keep up with the plants. Thankfully Joan does an amazing job and manages to deliver incredibly luscious grapes for our Estate Wines. (Did you know that according to the Federal Government a wine can only be called an Estate Wine if it is totally the product of the owners’ vineyard and winery and only if the property is located in an American Viticultural Area? For us that is the Sonoita AVA, the only AVA in Arizona). So busy farmers we are. But the grape vines just keep chugging along, single minded in their pursuit to make a biological impact on this earth. These young Tempranillo grapes are gorgeous and will make a dynamite 2008 vintage wine when they grow up.

More to the Story

The encounter with the snake Saturday was only the beginning of a long day for me in the vineyard. I continued the tying up work in our 5th year Syrah a little shaken and contemplating why that snake didn't bite me. It certainly must have known I was there before I saw it. So, deep in thought, I unwittingly plunged my hand into a bird's nest buried in a vine. When I looked in there was a little brown thing with a huge mouth opened, expecting me to drop a bug inside. I thought, "Oh,great, here's another life I am adversely affecting." I wondered if its parents would now abandon the baby and how I was going to keep it alive. As I was thinking of catching some flies and grinding them up I noticed a pair of adult birds hovering and making noises at me. So, I decided abandoning that area of the vineyard would be easier than parenting a baby bird and moved to the 4th year Syrah. This is where I had an encounter with a red ant. Frightening? No. But definitely painful. It somehow crawled up my pant leg and continued to munch as it marched up my leg. My last encounter for the day was with a fly that flew up my nose. Now, that was uncomfortable but easily expulsed! Oh, the romance of growing wine grapes!