Friday, April 11, 2014
Identifying this particular wildflower turned out to be a little difficult. Of course it is obviously very iris-like, but the two most common native Californian irises that I identified, in a couple of native plant guides I possess in my smallish reference library, happen to be the Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana) and the Western Blueflag Iris (Iris missouriensis). Neither of these irises are really considered to be wild flowers as often they have simply just escaped cultivation. So I turned to the internet to do some further research and I am 99% sure that my, quite diminutive, iris is the Bowltube Iris (Iris macrosiphon). Found on slopes and in woodlands, the flowering stalk on the bowltube is much shorter (and stalk-less) than the attending leaves, a feature which distinguishes this iris from the aforementioned two. The iris in the photograph is rather close to the ground, it's leaves being more than twice it's height.
One interesting snippet of information about this iris is that it was a source of fibre for Native Americans who harvested the leaves to produce cordage that they used to make bird nets, fish nets, deer snares and other useful items. I am not going to be ripping the foliage from this agreeable little flower any time soon, as I want it to reappear next year (and I think it may be the only one of it's kind in Vinoland). So flower on little weed.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Today, at last, and for the next 5 day extended weather outlook, there is no rain in the forecast. So, and not a moment too soon, the vines received their first application of sulphur for the season. I was starting to get a bit worried about the Orange muscat vines which have a good 10-12 inches of growth already - they should have had two, preventative sulphur treatments (to ward off powdery mildew infection) by now, but the weather has not been cooperating. Ho hum.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
The technical name for this phenomenon is guttation. Grapevines experiencing rapid spring growth can exhibit guttation under high moisture conditions - diffusion pressure builds inside the plant because of high soil moisture and a low rate of transpiration due to high humidity. The built up pressure is released by exuding water and minerals from specialised cells...voila, grape pearls. Apparently, pearls occur on some grape varieties more than others, which probably explains why I have seen then mainly on the Orange muscat vines.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
It was a pretty easy process as the Cabernet sauvignon vines are still slumbering. The cooler weather this week has slowed things down a bit, so I'm predicting that budbreak won't happen for another 4 or 5 days yet.
Also, got a couple of dead vines removed (thank you, Vinomaker) and filled the holes (that Vinomaker dug) with new, baby vines. The photograph shows, but not very well (I should have used a different background), one of the extracted vines which has a deep, 11" split along the lower half of it's trunk. Did this split cause the death of this vine? No, I'm sure this vine had just run it's natural course and the split occurred postmortem. Hate when that happens. But I love it when I have finished pruning.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
As is our tradition, Vinomaker and I like to surprise each other with a visit to a new restaurant on the other one's birthday. My surprise eatery this birthday was Lulu's Kitchen at 1313 Main. 1313 Main is a wine bar/lounge located at 1313 Main St. in downtown Napa.
And as is our tradition, our wine choices for the evening were from the 'Wine by the Glass' wine list - not as extensive as at some other restaurants, but nevertheless we found enough variety to keep us entertained. And the wines were;
Weingut Knoll, "Lobiner" 2012 Grüner Veltliner, Federspiel, Wachau, Austria.
Terre Rouge, 2012 Viognier, Amador County, California.
Xarmant Txakolina, 2012 Hondarabbi Zuri, Arabako Txakolina, Spain.
Gamling & McDuck, 2010 Cabernet Franc, Napa, California.
Lioco, "Satira" 2011 Carignan, Mendocino County, California.
Muga Reserva, 2009 Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain.
The tapas-style small plates we paired with these wines were all fairly decent, but really nothing to write home about. I enjoyed myself, but I'm not in a hurry to revisit Lulu's, there are so many more restaurants in the valley to try.
Thank you Vinomaker for an enjoyable birthday evening.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Oh...and Happy Birthday John Toshack.
Vinogirl loves birthdays.
Friday, March 21, 2014
One distraction was a huge cluster of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) that just looked so splendid I had to get a closer peep. The poppies got going a little later this year, because of the lack of winter rain, but they are now blooming spectacularly en masse. And they are everywhere: this year's crop is perhaps the most prolific display of full-on-poppy-goldiness I have ever seen. There should be plenty still blooming by California Poppy Day, which is April 6th.
Then I got distracted by a crab spider (Misumenoides formosipes) who in turn was distracted by a small, pollen covered beetle. The beetle flew off and I went back to pruning.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Now, back to the Cabernet vines.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
During the dessert course a few vintners were asked to speak about wine and aging, and here are the aforementioned quotes. Firstly, John Williams of Frog's Leap Winery compared wine to people claiming "if either starts out ugly, they're doomed to remain ugly." Titter, titter. And secondly, Wayne Winiarski (he of '1976 Tasting of Paris' fame) waxed a bit more lyrical than Mr. Williams philosophising that "wine is not a living thing (as many espouse), but rather a dying thing, hopefully dying gracefully." Snigger, snigger.
I am going to add a third quote, more about people than wine, from my dearest mother who has been known to quip, "I don't plan on aging gracefully. I plan to do it disgracefully." The older I get, the more I am inclined to agree with her. Chuckle, chuckle.
Friday, March 14, 2014
If anyone needs to find me, I'll be in amongst the Syrah.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Happy birthday V1!
Sunday, March 9, 2014
I had to abandon pruning in the Cabernet vines because the Syrah vines simply cannot wait. I did, with Vinomaker's help in removing last year's growth from the trellising, get quite a bit pruned. It makes it very difficult to prune when the buds are so advanced, as even the simple act of pulling the old growth away from the trellis wires can easily knock off adjacent buds - never mind the fiddly process of wrapping and tying down the new canes.
I will get everything pruned eventually, even with my day-job paring into my pruning time, but I will have to accept the loss of some crop. At least the Orange Muscat and Pinot grigio pruning went smoothly this season.