Sunday, April 29, 2012

What Does the Quail Say?

The Raven says, "Never More." What about the Quail?

As I walk down the mountain I hear a call from the vineyard: "Where are you? Where are you?" That's the tweet from Mr. Quail trying to find his mate.

The Queen says the Quail are telling Fidel (that rascal): "Trabajo. Trabajo!" Get to work!

Celestial Sandra says the Quail say, "Picasso. Picasso," calling her adorable Shih Tzu by his artistic name.

The Queen says the Quail are telling me, "Ahou, Ahou" Japanese Kansai dialect for you stupid, idiot fool. She's right again. That's what it takes to plant a vineyard. We should be quoting the Raven: "Never more, never more," but she had me out in rural Riverside County yesterday surveying acreage for our next vineyard. You know what I'm thinking about that: "Ahou, Ahou!"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

That's Not Charlotte's Web

As I lowered my foot for the crushing blow on the Black Widow covering her egg pouch I said to myself,  "This is not Charlotte's Web."

Just because I rattle a shovel around the dark areas housing water valves before I stick in my hand doesn't mean there's not a spider lurking there waiting to get me. I recall my first visit to the Valley Center Water District office to discuss our water allocation 5 years ago when a man telephoned asking what to do because a Black Widow had just bit him when he turned on his irrigation valve. Lesson learned.

We do have a cast of barnyard critters here in the vineyard who greet us most days: RockySquirrel (who defies death daily avoiding every trap I spread for him and enjoying the snack of an orange or avocado slice I leave him; his fur is getting lush from the avocado oil); OwlGore (the barn owl whose pellets we inspect daily in hopes of finding skeletal remains of Mr. Gopher); RoadRunner (beep, beep) and of course WylieCoyote (whose pack prowls the valleys surrounding us); Bugs Bunny (who is baby bugs this time of year and a treat); HawkEye Pierce (a  family of hawks who float on the currents in the sky); DanQuail (a covey of quail which our dog can't quite figure out); CarlRove (the neighbor's cat who prefers hunting on our property -- he knows what to do with the quail); fortunately, we haven't seen Simba the Mountain Lion (though he was caught on a neighbor's surveillance camera) but I've had three sightings of the bobcat (for whom I don't have special name other than The BobCat).

Some mornings as the fog lifts there's a sparking web across vines spun by one of those large fruit spiders which I examine carefully trying to find the letters: S-O-M-E-D-O-G

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

1st Shipment To New York City

Dear Wayne,

About that wine I sent you....

You mentioned the New York City wine distributor you know is also the owner of an Italian restaurant so I  included North American wines made from grapevines with an Italian origin. I purchased the grapes grown by Camillo Magoni who immigrated to Baja California from Italy. It is said the cuttings used to plant his vineyard were carried by suitcase from Italy to the hills of Guadeloupe Valley, just over the border from San Diego. We have made a 2006 Nebbiolo from Camillo's grapes that was to die for and I think there are 12 or so bottles left in the world. So it was in 2009 when we kicked into high gear that we contracted to purchase more grapes from Camillo, this time Aglianico and Montepulciano. What I have sent you is a bottle of each: 100% Aglianico (which we call Ugly Hanako since that rhymes with our daughter's name and I had trouble getting my Baja-grown Aglianico label approved by the TTB) and 100% Montepulciano (the so-called "Monty",  because I also had trouble with the TTB with that label if it were called Montepulciano from Guadeloupe Valley). Both wines reflect the tough character of the Mexican soil. Friends of ours have described the Aglianico as "earthy". The Montepulciano is less earthy: its color is lighter, cleaner. You will catch some fruit on the nose. Both wines would pair well I think with rich, hearty Italian dishes.  I will let you and the distributor be the judge. (For my taste, I find the character of the soil salty, although not as salty as your character.)

Opposite the wines whose grapes grew in Mexico is a 2009 Mourvedre whose grapes were trucked to us by Paso Robles Bill. Paso is one of the greatest wine regions in the world and we love the wines produced there and jumped at the opportunity to purchase her grapes. .What surprises me about this wine is its light color (it might remind you of a Pinot) and there are times when I detect the essence of strawberry on the nose.  This is a well balanced wine -- a bit more "fruit" than the others, probably the result of being cold soaked for over a week after harvest, and a slow fermentation that brought out all of the flavors. I have not met a woman who has not liked this wine. It pairs well with appetizers and lighter dishes. I'm curious what the New York distributeur/restrauteur has to say about it. I like it.

The final selection is a wine made entirely from San Diego Grapes.  This wine is still in a pre-release stage and I'm curious (and hopeful) what it will do in the bottle.  Our 2009 "Merleatage" (named after our Blue-Merle Aussie) is made from combining what were full French oak barrels of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Sirah. We also had about 15 gallons of Cabernet Sauvignon as well we had to deal with (which went into the mix), and when I tweaked it, I blended in 10 gallons of our estate Tempranillo to give it more bite. Because more than 3 barrels of wine went into the mix, this is the largest lot of any wine we've made (about 80 cases produced). A reason for sending it to you and the distributor to try is that there is enough to sell, if there is demand. We opened a bottle to test after sending you yours and enjoyed it with the lamb roast I slow-cooked for Easter. The wine was enjoyable, and as I said, we are full of hope and expectation that this one will turn out to be "not too bad" and perhaps, even "pretty good" although not among the best we have ever made. (Those are too few to send to the distributor; we are holding those back for our best customers. However, we will soon start bottling some of the 2010 wines and there should be good ones among them and enough to allocate some to distribution.)

We have a few friends and fans alive and well and living in New York City who would love to be able to purchase our wines so we await your judgement and wish you and your friends an enjoyable tasting because our wine is meant to be shared among friends.