A lot has happened this past week. What started out as green vines with green shoots a week ago now shows yellowing leaves and gives up its fruit. Soon, all the leaves will brown and the sky will gray and the vine will go to sleep apparently barren and lifeless. This gave me pause to reflect about my colleague at work, Marcia, whose healthy husband became infected with a super virus and within a week suffered stroke, kidney failure and is in hospice. A healthy vine, who bore fruit -- two children, a son who graduated from college a year ago and a daughter entering her sophomore year. A week ago, vibrant. Today, withering. Doesn't our life follow the pattern of the vine? And don't we hope for renewal after we have gone dormant? As I think of the promise of renewal I am filled with strength, and smile.
I saw a withering vine with brown leaves and hanging fruit this morning as I walked through the vineyard. The last watering was two weeks ago and the vines are showing stress and the fruit is starting to shrivel a bit in this heat and it's looking riper. Yellowing leaves are to be expected but brown leaves are a concern and I wonder what's going on. There are no signs of Pierce's disease and I look at the ground and see a gopher hole and a gopher could explain the damage and after the harvest I will need to get after the gophers. The berries are ripening and I'm thinking harvest in a week.
I visited the Zinfandel block, which has not had its water cut and was surprised to see that the grapes were shrivelling and getting wrinkled and they were soft to the touch and when I pulled them out none of the meat stuck and I tasted it and it was sweet and I looked at the seeds and they were brown and I said to myself these guys might just be ripe. I took a sample and went into the lab. The "lab" sounds very professional and I suppose it's getting that way as I purchase all the equipment used by professional winemakers but it's really a set up in a garage and my lab bench is the clothes washing machine and the clothes dryer, which I've never used to dry clothes, yet, but it makes a handy work space. The result: 25.5 brix on the "refractometer" which is a technical way to say that the sugars are high and we could make a pretty strong wine with that and on my hydrometer it might read 26 brix and what was supposed to be a leisurely weekend preparing for harvest and entertaining my relatives from France (yes, the Coneheads and yes, they sure consume a lot) and now we're scrambling to get the grapes in because the aforementioned Zinfandel are perfect for picking and it turns out that the Tempranillo are also ready, in fact, their acid is so low and we need to get them in right away but a I have an ace in the whole and that's a section of unripe grapes which are bound to have high acid and this may work out.
The picking commenced this evening under the stars as it's only 87 degrees at night instead of 100+ and I brought a couple of buckets and containers and a shovel to let Mr. Rattlesnake know that we are nearby. It's Sunday and I'm thinking of church and this being the first fruits of the harvest I'm thinking of the tithe and as Bluey sleeps I'm thinking of the apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane who couldn't stay awake and I know the answer why. They were dog tired and they are human and I would rather be asleep too but there are these grapes we need to get in. I suspect Sunday is going to be a long day.