This will be the hottest day of the year, 104 degrees. I’m glad to be in our straw bale winery at 74 degrees F. It is also the height of fruit season. There are cherries in the dryer; apricots in the refrigerator; huckleberries, blueberries and peaches in the freezer. Breakfast was fresh corn fritters with most of those fruits on top. Grapes, plums and apples are all on their way or just starting. But bringing the crop in is far from a done deal.
The new irrigation is almost completely installed but ironically we are now starting to taper off on water. The grapes are turning to their natural color. Veraison is the technical name of this stage of their development. The not so technical name is “get the bird nets up” season. So the push is on to have the grapes covered while migrating birds start to pass by so they don’t decide to stay awhile.
It has also been a busy month for migrating visitors. Too bad they are not here to help with the nets. But who can blame them. The whole of Eastern Washington is covered in forest fire smoke. We did get a fast ride on a Zodiac from a visiting friend of a friend. It’s a good time to live near a lake.
On July 27th I bottled
Riesling from 2016. It is very much a vintage to be proud of. We have enough of it to sell right now but it is going fast.
Two days later I gave a talk on Regenerative Agriculture and a Permaculture gathering nearby. It was well-received and I took the occasion to introduce some observations about how adding compost between the rows in the vineyard is affecting the grapes. The basic idea of Regenerative Agriculture is that healthy living soil is more fertile than any soil that depends on additions of fertilizer be it chemical or even organic. I’m seeing a “multiplier effect” in the rows that have been enhanced for the longest time. First the compost acts as a mulch. So they retain more water and it is enriched with nutrients from the compost. This spurs more plant growth in both the ground cover and the grapes.
As a sample I can compare a plantian leaf from outside the vineyard that gets water but no compost with one from a composted row. The first is 3 inches long. The second is 10 inches. If you estimate 3 times the length and 3 times the breadth, there is over 9 times the size in the compost grown plant. This will multply the amount of organic matter sitting on that row, which will in turn help grow larger plants all around. Additionally there is added bug life and bird life. The vineyard is now a habitat. I expected these effects to take years to mature and am sure that they will. But the immediate effects are much greater than I anticipated.
Later on the 29th after giving a talk in the morning and exploring for huckleberries in the afternoon, I talked about our wines at an official wine tasting at the Republic Brewing Company. That was fun, gave me a better idea of what wines are favorites and resulted in more orders. The top three picks were Lucie Kuhlmann, Baco Noir and Siegerrebe. The Lucie Kuhlmann is a sweet, strong wine that stands well on its own. The Baco is drier and pairs well with hearty dishes. Siegerrebe is a crisp white wine that when chilled makes a refreshing addition to light meals in this hot weather.
Come to think of it. That sounds like a great idea right now. I’ll start making a fresh vegetable and pasta dinner while doing some “quality control” on a cool glass of white wine.