June 28, 1999 High 102 and low of 56 since last posting
Steve and the guys have finished up with the planting and have been gone for a few days, so it is my obligation now to make sure that the newly-planted vines get enough water. I had to trudge out through the vineyard at 8:00 o'clock this morning and turn on the drip for the new vines and set the timer to go off at noon. If I water 24 hours a day on the weekend, it only costs me a few dollars, but if I water between noon and 6:00 p.m. during the week, the rate can be 7 or 8 times more. We are on a digital meter, and I have vowed to respect the peak usage hours during the day. Tomorrow evening, I will go out about 6 o'clock and give the vines a watering for at least 12 hours. As you can see by the temperatures posted above, we are finally moving into the 100's. It seems like every couple of weeks we are reaching a slightly higher level. Just a few days ago, we did reach 97 degrees and yesterday it was 102. I've not checked the high for today, but just judging from how it felt, I'm assuming it might have been even higher. The lows during the evening have been higher than normal too - in the high 50's - but obviously this is still lower than most of the country.
My last few days have been consumed by several different matters. We did have around 40 people visit the winery on Saturday, but I concentrated on the computer yesterday, trying to install Internet Connection Sharing. I don't want to go into it in detail right now but briefly, if I can get that installed, Pat and I will both be able to access the Internet through one modem. That will free up our primary line 433-9715 to accept phone calls and messages.
Also, last Friday we did accept delivery of our automatic filler and corker. We have tentatively set up a trial run on July 6th and bottling of the Pinot Noir either than afternoon or early the next day. Then we will continue to bottle the Neighbors' Zinfandel and Neighbors' Cuvee on the 7th and 8th. On the 14th or 15th, we will start to bottle our estate wines and hopefully finish up completely by the 19th or 20th.
Our niece Kristin is here visiting us for 10 days and so the children have been getting adventurous. As a matter of fact a few days ago, they made their first excursion into the pond which we established a year and a half ago. The pond consumes about 2/3 of an acre of land and they have discovered that it's about 8 feet deep in some areas, but less than 5 feet in most of it, making it a good, safe swimming "hole" and a great escape from the heat spell we have been having.
June 30, 1999 Low 54, high 108
We are in a fortunate spot in California because if you look out into our vineyard, everything appears to be green, similar to what most of you in the rest of the country would normally see. What is different here is that we do not get any rain during the summer to keep things green. So if you would go out into the middle of the vineyard rows, you would see nothing but dried grass And if you have traveled in California at this time of year, you will have noticed a lot of dry, brown grass because of the lack of rain. After all, we do have deserts in California.
As we are writing this at 9:00 p.m. this evening it is 85 degrees outside, which is very unusual for this part of the country. And as you can see by the temperatures I've reported in the last couple of days, it was 108 degrees today, and as low as 54 degrees yesterday morning. Again, as I've said in the last several postings and before, to me that is what is unique about this area and why we can produce premium quality grapes while other parts of the nation are restricted by the closely ranged highs and lows. Even though we have a lack of rain, northern California has an abundant amount of water available for irrigation at this time of the year, and therefore I have been watering profusely.
I know many of you have probably heard that the greatest wines are made from unirrigated (or as it is sometimes called "dry farmed") vineyards. I believe that is misleading. I have some of the most well-drained soils around me, and therefore it needs a certain amount of irrigation. As some of you may know, France averages close to 20 inches of rain during the summer months. We receive zero inches during that same period. So most of us in this area with well-drained soils - similar to the soils in France - need to irrigate our vines to prevent the grapes from turning into raisins. I am trying to create a wine that is as intense in fruit quality as possible, so I don't necessarily want my grapes to shrivel and turn into raisins. A few raisins in Zinfandel are essential to create the complexity and spiciness of that wine. As I mentioned last year and will talk more about as the season goes on, a bunch of Zinfandel grapes, weighing as little as a half pound, can have individual berries ranging from over 30 percent sugar content in one berry to as low as 20 percent in another.
July 3, 1999 High 103, low 54 since last posting
Thursday it got to a high of 103, and yesterday was considerably lower, probably in the low 90's. Today at 9:00 a.m., it appears that we will probably have a pretty average day for us this time of year - around 90 degrees. The weather forecasters are predicting another heat spell beginning next week.
Yesterday, my friend Michael Watts and began building several wine storage racks in the room adjacent to our office in the main house. That room does have a drain in it and was used for amateur winemaking plus I made my my first two vintages of commercial wine there. Now it will be used to store the bottling line during crush and it will also hold approximately 170 cases of wine in the new racks. Also, there will be room for me to store some wine on pallets if I need to. I do have another wine cellar storage below my house for my personal wine collection, but iI plan on using this new storage area to hold mostly my library wines for the winery. I am making a concerted effort to save more wines in the future so we can have more customer functions and also maybe sell a few older vintages down the road.
Now my concentrations are centered on bottling for the next two weeks. On July 6th, we will set up and learn how to use the entire system, put Michael's amateur wine through as a test run, and then clean the system. On the next two days, the 7th and 8th, we will start bottling our 1998 wines, beginning with the Pinot 4 packs, our Neighbors' Zinfandel and Neighbors' Cuvee. On the 13th and 14th and then the l6th and l7th, we plan to bottle all the remaining estate wines for the 1998 vintage. If all goes according to schedule, our storage building, which is now empty of the 1997 wines, will once again be "full to the brim" by the end of the day on the 17th. :-)
We are going to celebrate the 4th of July holiday with my family in
the Bay Area, and we hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July weekend.
We'll keep you posted on the progress of the bottling next week when we
get the time.