|Wednesday May 10, 2006
This is always a tough time of year to write. Since I last made an entry we had several big events. The Passport to Dry Creek Valley was held on April 29th and 30th. We did real well and sold about 30% more wine than last year. My Birthday is on May 3rd and since the Passport is on the last weekend in April, this was the closest to my birthday as possible. It was a hard transition, not because we were already celebrating for days before. but because we overindulged way too much. I love rich food, but everyday is too much. My stomach never recovered from those great ribs from Passport. We had Pizza on Sunday, Lamb and roast potatoes on the First. On the third Pat, Susie, Matt and I went to Mirepoix for the second year in a row. On The 4th we went to K&L bistro and on Saturday we went out to The Dry Creek Kitchen. Every dinner was rich and great. On Sunday I had pizza again. We have had fish the last two days and I am slowly recovering to normal, what ever that is.
My labels will be here in less than a month so we can label the 2005 Chardonnay, Fresco and Late Harvest Sauv Blanc. I am happy that the Chardonnay is showing much better and the other two are great.
I have decided to purchase some petite sirah bulk wine from the Ponzo vineyard. We produced wine from the same vineyard and day back in October. I am happy to receive more wine since the fruit I used that day made some real nice wine. I obtained the wine for a real good price and since our sales are up this will help us out.
Thursday May 11, 2006
I am so excited!! I will be obtaining Tannat from Russian River. We will have our first small crop of Tannat this year, but even in full production, we will only have about one ton. The source vineyard is about three acres which is more than we need at anytime. I must do some hard thinking, because I could decide to use more Tannat than I have planned in the future. Tannat makes a very dark tannic wine that will go great in my Escuro, Petite Sirah, My Zin and even my Cabernet. I must decide on the amount of tonnage to request by tomorrow when I meet with the representative of the vineyard.
I am purchasing a new tractor. It will be an air-conditioned cab like the one we have had for 9 years, but it will be 10 inches narrower. That will make it easier to traverse through my old vines. The old vines are spaced only 7 feet apart, but since the trunks and arms have grown so much over the years our old tractor at 52 inches does do some damage to vines especially after the vines have put on their summer shoot growth. The new tractor at 43 inches will save vines and crop.
I've also decided to pick up a new 2007 530i BMW in Wisconsin. We have a two good friends and customers who have a very successful dealership in Milwaukee. Since we will be driving to Chicago at the end of July and Milwaukee is less than two hours away it will be convenient to to stop off and trade in my 2004 530i and drive the new one back here. I will have to pay the use tax when I register here, but I will get a discount from our friends in Wisconsin. I am very happy with my 2004 which will have about 32,000 miles on it and is still worth over $30,000 in trade. I want a different color and the navigation system otherwise the car will be pretty much the same.
Friday May 12, 2006
We are in the process of connecting two buildings with a new storage area. Most of you who have visited our winery have noticed that we have 4 buildings here on the property. One is our main winery, a metal building (2400 square feet) where our audio video equipment resides AND where most of the barrels and all the winemaking is done. Also our tastings and events occur there. Further South is our main residence and office (3500 sq ft) where four computers exist. Across from the main building near the pond there are two storage structures. The biggest has a guest house above and storage down below. Both are 2000 sq ft. On the bottom we store all our wine to be picked up. Since our "Futures" customers don't need an appointment to pick up their wine we have to have all wine available. That means we have a pallet of each wine flat on the floor (no more than 60 cases) available at all times. That takes up about 1000 sq feet. On the other half of the bottom section is where my car is parked and bottling equipment and at least 100 barrels are stored. To the left of the big building is a smaller 900 sq ft building which accepts most of our bottled wine. That building is about 15 ft high inside and 150 cases can be stored in a mere 4 ft X 4 ft space. Three pallets are stacked 3 high and 5,000 cases can fit in the building.
There is a 9 ft concrete area that separate the two buildings near the pond. We are presently connecting the two buildings with a roof and closing it in with a roll up door. This area will be 17 ft high inside and we will be able to stack pallets containing 200 cases. In all we should be able to store about 2,500 additional cases. I love making wine!!! Now I have the room to store it.
Saturday May 13, 2006
I have no water!! Like the saying goes: If it isn't one thing it's another. Everyday something goes wrong on our 25 acre property. I suppose it's because it is a big area, but mostly there are so many material things to go wrong.
Yesterday I received my new 43 inch wide tractor. Earlier in the day I had a friend with a D5 cat come in with an 8 foot wide blade on the front to do some grading. About 20 acres of our property is pretty near flat. Then down by the creek the land rolls off about 50 ft to another flat area which is about 30 ft lower. Our vineyard rows are 12 ft wide. Some vineyards are graded out to run down hill in this situation, but I chose to run the rows across and parallel to the slop. The house underground pump is at the bottom area in a sandy loam. There are 4 wires and a plastic pipe connecting the pump to a shack holding all the pressure tanks at the top area about 50 ft away. When we planted the vines I had some rough grading done, but the rows have not been too level. Traversing the ground with a tractor can be a little scary, because the tractor would lean way to the side down hill, possibly as much as 20 degrees at times. Since I was buying this new narrow tractor I thought it would be safer to level the ground.
I told the friend to not grade near the shack or pump area, because the pipe and electrical could be hit. He understood and informed his Cat driver to be careful. I instructed Catarino to go down and watch the grading and make sure all the rows were left level. Of course I also told him to stay away of the pump area. Catarino and the driver did not listen to me. At about 2 pm the water line and electrical was hit. A 30 foot section of pipe was dug up, leaving us with no new water to be transported 1000 feet to our 12,000 gallon holding tank up here near our house. Steve and I turned off the electrical and walked back the 1000 feet to the holding tank where we found about 9000 gallons inside. I figured that was plenty until the pipe and electrical could be repaired this morning. Catarino dug a 30 ft trench yesterday afternoon and needed to do a little more work this morning when he was to be here at 6 am.
At 2 am I got up to pee and discovered I had no water. What could have happened? We had at least 5000 gallons in the tank!! I could not sleep. I thought maybe the electrical had gone off in the holding tank shack across from our house. I discovered that the electrical was on and the tank was empty. I got little sleep after that and came down to the office at about 10 min to 6 am. I went out to sulfur in my new tractor and when I came back at about 8 am Steve was here ready to repair the electrical and pipe. He knew what had happened: Our garden irrigation system was to come on at 6 pm, pumping about 30 gallons a minute or about 1800 gallons an hour for three hours and then drip would come on for another 3 hours. Yes I had forgot to turn it off. By 2 am the tank was empty. Every time grading or digging is done near the water line the pipe has been broken. Two months ago we hit the pipe while putting a vineyard end post in. No matter how careful we are the damage is done.
Within two hours I should have water again. Country life is tough sometimes.
Tuesday May 16, 2006
It took many hours until we had water, but by the evening everything was back to normal, what ever that means.
I don't understand the chronological order of Blogs. Some have said I was the first blogger when before the word was coined in September 1998 I started this diary. It is a blog since I do recount my day to day happenings, but all blogs I read start with the first day being the last day, in other words backwards to me. I use a chronological account of my life which is different. I have even had one person agree not to use my diary as a blog because it did not use the conforming format. I do not like to conform to such trivial requirements so I will continue in the context that I started in 1998.
The vines are growing. We even got up to 102 the other day. At this rate we will catch up to last year soon in maturity. Last year we had rain until May 18th. Nothing was growing very fast last year at this time, but we did have good weather in April unlike this year and we had a warm March. Last year the growth was out early and just paused. This year the shoots are growing at two inches a day. Every year is different and I love it. This year the crop level looks a little below normal just like last year at this time. Last year we had a good bloom and a normal crop at Harvest. I know this year will be different.
We are finalizing our purchase of Tannat. I should have more details next week.
Wednesday May 17, 2006
We just sent out our last notice to customers who have not claimed their 2004 wines that were bought through our "Futures" program. This year we sent out 144 letters. That is better than the 300 last year, but still a large amount. There is a possibility that we may have available some of the 2004 bottled wine that has been sold out if some customers do not claim the wine. Please check with us at the end of the month if you are interested.
Also I'd like to remind all of you who have not purchased our 2005 and 2006 Futures that prices will go up by $1.00 a bottle on June first. That is not a big raise, but those of you who want the best prices should order by the end of this month.
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