Saturday, November 28, 2009

Storm of Shakespearean Proportions

"Tom's a cold. Tom's a cold!" I called out as the season's first rain turned to hail. Soaked to the bone I meandered through the vineyard inspecting the flow of water, taking note of areas to patch. Oh, Tom's a cold, and I thought of old Tom Turkey trying to stay warm, huddling next to the hens. Over 80 degrees just two days ago on Turkey Day, Tom basting himself in the sun's warm rays among his harem. And now this. What a fall from fortune. 80 to zero in two days oh Tom's a cold! I thought of King Lear out in a raging storm spurned by ungrateful daughters and I, a Lear-like pauper, ignored by our Princess last week in the "Special Thanks" program of her play, "To The Men I've Dated: A Tribute." No tribute to the parents. Not a tribute to her dog. There are thanks to Judy (for ongoing support), and thanks to Katie (for the lights) and thanks to Caroline (for the sound), and thanks to Bryan (for the summer -- what's that about?). But where are the thanks to Papa, payer of the college tuition, and the bank roller of the production? Where are the thanks to mama, from whose womb she was untimely ripped? "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks. Rage, blow." I said to Bluey who had followed me loyally into the storm, "Come, Fool!" and we picked up a mouse dead in his trap and carried him to the burying ground. As I dug the shallow grave my shovel hit a a skull which I pulled out and showed to Bluey, "Alas, poor gopher, I knew him Horatio."

My wits began to turn and common sense returned and I asked Bluey, "How dost, my boy? Art cold? I am cold myself." We headed down the hill towards the house, inspecting mounds of compost placed under each vine before the storm. The compost held its ground, and I took the shovel and worked it into the soil, to provide slow nourishment for the year ahead.

It is the beginning of another cycle in the vineyard and the first rain has fallen and the first steps to making the 2010 wines have been taken. Now warmed in the house, and having penned a few lines, it's time to get outside again and take the rake and grate the damp soil and sow annual grass seed as a cover crop. The rackings finished yesterday, siphoning new wine from the dregs of microscopic grape skins and sediment, tasting as I racked, the 2009 wines full of such promise. The sun is coming out and it will be warmer to work outside in the rays moving more compost and raking, scraping the dirt to prepare the soil for the seed as the new growing season begins today, with the first of nature's irrigations, and I take off my jacket as I warm up and start to sweat, faithful dog at my side, imagining Prospero releasing his magic to the vineyard.

(Kind words to our Princess: P.S. we love you. The play's your thing.)

1 comment:

Vinomaker said...

The weather has been quite extreme this fall, at least for Napa, but the harvest produced some very nice fruit. Vinogirl told me you were having some issues with high pH reds. We also get some red grapes with relatively high pHs in most years but this year they were actually a bit lower. I assume you do an acid adjustment where it is appropriate which will lower the pH a bit. Othewise we just need to live with the high, over 3.6, values and maintain ullage minimums and sulfite levels.

When it comes to bottling reds, I shoot for about 30 ppm, even in the higher pH wines. It appears that, although the pH would indicate a much higher level above a pH of 3.6, 30 ppm offers as much protection as the higher amounts without pushing the sensory threshold. There are numerous formulas for calculating the correct dosage of sulfur dioxide but an easy source is found on the website under the Online Wine Sulfite Calculator. I use a 6% solution but all the other sources can be found there as well. Good luck with your wine, or should I say your wife's wine? That's great!