San Diego's weather the last few weeks has been what you imagine it to be: beautiful. It's been warmer the last few days than most days in June and we're finally thawing out after the cold and storms that visited us in winter. The new green shoots of the vines are loving the sun and growing inches by the day. As the globe celebrated Earthhour on Saturday we were the last of "the wave" that circulated round the world turning out our lights. So it is with ringing in the New Year with California among the last populated time zones to cheer the clock strike twelve. But when it comes to vines it's as if budbreak in North America starts here first, right in our backyard. And as some of the first shoots reached the first wire, it's time to thin them, the idea being to have more or less two shoots per spur, approximately sixteen shoots per vine (on our 6' ft. spaced vines), more or less. It being early in the season, and with the possibility of El Nino's last desperate gasp at rain (the little baby seems to have disappeared in March), I leave extra shoots, just in case. The objective is to have proper spacing between remaining shoots to improve air flow making powdery mildew easier to manage. Also, we're not trying to grow the "most fruit" but the "best fruit" and thinning reduces yield.
Saturday was also Bluey's birthday. He's now a robust 8 years old about the same age as me in dog years and for an Australian Shepherd, he's mellowing out and aging quite nicely, just like the wine in the barrels.
The Queen spied her first snake of the season this afternoon among the rocks of the Protea Garden. "It was a nice snake,"' she said.
"How do you know?" To her, any snake that doesn't bite her is nice.
"It didn't rattle."
"Could it have been one of the new deadlier breeds that doesn't rattle?" Darwin has been working his laws of evolution with the snakes of this region. Since those that rattle tend to get killed, survival of the fittest is resulting in snakes that don't make noise.