Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's Your Story?

We were contacted by a nice young man from Winemaking magazine who found "our story" interesting and asked us to send him some more details about how we got started, our trials and tribulations and where we are today for an upcoming article. Here is his response: "Craig, Thank you for the document. Unfortunately I cannot run this - there just isn't enough to run. Have you ever read winemaker? I would need 1 -2 pages of "your winemaking story.' Blue Merle, how it started, tips and tricks, trials and tribulations, and where you are now - that kind of thing. Unfortunately, I would need something by the end of the day at this point to make deadline. Thanks again, Cheers! Jeremy" Not enough content to run? Hmmm..... here's my response: Dear Jeremy, Don't give up yet.... There's 6 years of "content" on the Internet, and we can cut and paste. Just tell me what you want (or you grab what you want). On this website: You'll notice a link to our very first winemaking effort in 2004 (very well documented), then year 2 and so on. As for the vineyard, our vineyard installation experience is documented here: I have to be honest with you: there's only so many times you can write about what it's like punching down the cap and the crush and the harvest ... believe me, those are wonderful life experiences ... but we've been there, done that ... so, our writing has changed ... in the beginning, the writing was about the grapes and the wine and how amazing it was and what a gift from the Lord the grape is. We've written about that. It's always there and doesn't change. Now the writing's about people (Coyote Karen, Merlot Mike, Joe the Wino, that rascal Fidel and of course, Bluey, the Blue-Merle Aussie that runs the place) and friendship and betrayal and marriage and the economy and life framed around the vineyard, the grape and the wine. And that's a big part of "our story." Where we are now? We're a bonded winery by the TTB and a licensed winery by the California ABC. Our wines are for sale. Where are we going? The U.S. Constitution says that congress shall make no law interfering with free trade among the States. However, the grape is held hostage. There are Australian Shepherds in Oklahoma who want to buy our wine, direct from Bluey at the winery. We are not allowed to ship to them. That is the next frontier. And finally, at the beginning of the recession, the Queen spent the last of our savings account purchasing 47 Canary Island Phoenix Canaries palm trees in 15 gallon plants. Well, the drought in California was officially declared over yesterday, the economy is growing and the palm trees are getting bigger. Maybe it was a good investment.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Let's Get Down To Business

The economics look like this:

Some $50,000 invested in the vineyard.
Some $10,000 invested in winemaking equipment & barrels.
A thousand here and a thousand there and finally this has added up to real money.

The weather looks like this:
Nice and cool with bottles aging gracefully in their place.
Summer is a few months away, and heat waves could accelerate aging of some unsheltered bottles.

The inventory looks like this:
Bottles up to our ears.

What to do?
Time to sell some wine.

Other than Australian Shepherd owners, who's going to purchase a premium wine they've never heard of? The solution, make them an offer they can't refuse. So, we're announcing introductory pricing of $15/bottle when purchasing an assorted case. And, as an extra incentive for customers living within driving range, we'll include a bunch of our magnificent yellow pincushion Protea flowers pictured above. We are promoting this special on our Facebook page (targeting local residents) and also via Twitter, using the hashtag #SanDiego to attract local peeps. One of our aims is to be "your personal winemaker." This has certainly worked with family and friends. Now, let's see if we can turn this into a micro business before we run out of room and before the next heat wave.

(Editor's Note: If you're a California resident and would like to learn more about purchasing a case of award-winning, hand-crafted wines for $15/bottle follow this link: )

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Are You Eating?

I know Facebook and Twitter are not about what you're eating right now, but do you remember that gopher carcass the Queen asked me to clean up after one of my trips a few weeks ago? I took a shortcut (as I often do being in favor of finding the most expedient, most efficient and most organic way to handle matters in the vineyard) and promptly buried it in his hole, where he rested peacefully, keeping the other critters away with his stench and providing natural fertilization to the soil until 2" of pouring rain and sleet and hail flushed him out this morning. Ole Bluey just found the emerged zombie and despite my protests as I spied the stumpy tail sticking out of his mouth scarfed him in one bite and just licked his satisfied lips ignoring my admonishments. Would you let Ole Gopher Breath share your bed this evening? (If you believe in the law of Australian Shepherds then there will be no denying him so I might as well just give up trying to keep him off.)

This March rain is the icing on the cake of 4.5" of rain in February -- a dry and very beautiful and very warm January -- which followed 10" of rain in December and a wet October and November. In all, we're thinking that we will not need to irrigate until (or unless as the case may be) the vines show signs of stress in mid-summer.

The vines were pruned in February, mostly, and hand-painted with a "dormant spray". If you were cooking popcorn and you're beyond the first pops when it starts sounding like a machine gun, that's where we are with budbreak right now, with baby shoots emerging all over the place, except in the Zinfandel block. Although the fragile shoots are ever so easy to break off by hand (which I have done accidentally on many occasions in previous years) I'm pleased to learn that they have held up well in the harsh pelting rain. There could be even more rain at the end of this week, which will be toasted merange on top of this cake's icing. It's back to the vineyard while still light (thank you daylight savings time) to dig those holes and form those berms and shape those mounds in a foolish attempt to control water flowing down a hillside. Fool on the hill....