Monday, June 26, 2017

2016 Rombauer Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Wow! This is $20 from me. Might still be available; contact me, to buy some.

I'll start at the end. I had one large glass' worth left over, and stuck the bottle (umpumped; see my earlier posts why that does little good) in the fridge. It sat there for perhaps SIX days before I could get to it. I didn't expect much, but the wine was DIVINE (with grilled tilapia, rosemary-roasted potatoes, and our own snow peas). It had a strong lime note and a hint of stone. Wow!

And it was even better when just uncorked.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

To you gardeners who want to save seed, for replanting next year:

I'm in a grapebreeding group, where there was discussion today about how to make sure a vegetable seed, from a vegetable you're growing this year, will grow true to type next year. A really great answer was posted by Bill S, recently retired from the Univ of Illinois and a very respected expert. Here's what he said:

"Here are some things you need to know about hybrids and heirlooms that might answer some of the questions in this thread. The quote Texas A&M was good, but it may not be clear to everyone. I suspect some of you do know the differences, but here's my explanation.

Some plants are called self-pollinating, and others are cross pollinated. Usually with self-pollinating plants, like tomatoes, its a simple mechanical arrangement. the stamens are attached to inside of the corolla. When the stigma is ready for pollination, the pollen falls out of the corolla onto the stigma. Much of it misses and falls to the ground. In cross-pollinating plants, the pollen moves away from the host plant and fertilizes adjacent plants. In pumpkins, bees do much of the work. In corn, because females parts emerges midway up on the plant, they intercept pollen that falls from above, often from adjacent plants.

So, heirloom varieties are simply old varieties that were passed down, generation to generation. For the most part, they are true to the variety. BUT, when bees visit peppers and tomatoes, they pick up pollen and share the pollen with other plants. Even the wind moves pollen of these plants enough to cause "outcrossing', or unintentional crosses. Ever wonder how so many varieties of heirloom tomatoes were developed. Mostly, it was unintentional. Either by bees working over a garden or by wind moving pollen, crosses were made in "self"-pollinating plants. So when the seed was saved, there were odd plants that emerged. Many gardeners would find this interesting, and save those seeds separately. The original variety is preserved by selecting plants that bore "true-to-type". If you really want to keep an heirloom tomato, true -to-type, bag a couple of clusters of flowers before they open. They will truly self-pollinate and will be true to type.

If you have cross pollinating varieties like corn or pumpkins, you need to manage pollen flow. Heirloom varieties of these crops must be carefully managed to retain their "True-to-type" characteristics, or "wild" pollen will move in and change the variety.

Have you checked to see how many 'Brandywine' varieties there are? Probably dozens. That's because the pollen flow wasn't managed. So Kenton, you should bag a few flowers of your peppadew peppers, jut to be sure. You can self-pollinate them yourself if that helps.

Hybrids, as Texas A&M explains, are a whole different ballgame in annual crops than they are in grapes. You have to create breeding lines that are very homozygous through selfing. You must maintain those lines separate from the hybrid variety production process. Every year, you produce new hybrid variety seed from the breeding line seed you produced the previous year. But these kinds of hybrids are extremely true-to-type. You can find outliers but they need to be less than 0.01%, at the most. The reason they are so true to type is because of the extreme homozygosity of the parent breeding lines.

So heirlooms are easy to mix up. They are "generally" true-to-type, but if you want to keep them that way, protect them from "wild" pollen. I actually have an "heirloom" tomato variety I selected from an outcrossed plant. The parent plant produced several huge (12 oz, mol) fruit. The plant I selected and am trying to purify has 6-8 oz fruit that are very uniform and smooth. Otherwise, they look and taste like the parent plant. If you've grown 'Striped German' or 'Big Rainbow' tomato, you'll know what I have. They are beautiful and tasty. If I succeed, I'll probably try to patent it.

So, I help that helps clear up some confusion as to what constitutes heirlooms, hybrids and heresy.


(photo credit: Bon Appetit. Pictured are Peppadew Peppers.)

How I plant grapes: "Amiel in Cage"

"Amiel in Cage"  -- No, this is not a post about S&M between consenting adults. Amiel is a great white winegrape bred by Valentin Blattner in Switzerland. I am one of the first in the US to be growing it. Cuttings of it, and the other Blattner grapes I'm growing, will be available for purchase in a year or two, but will require a payment of royalty and a strict non-propagaion agreement.

The photo shows what I do, to protect newly-planted grapes from rabbits and deer, while the grape establishes itself.  Bamboo stick holds the cage at the lower part, and I also attach the top of the cage to the lower trellis wire... The cage is 2' hi and an 8-10" diameter is perfect. Keep the cage easy to open cuz for removal u can't lift it up off the grape, like u can for a fruit tree (because the grape will have permanent cordons (arms).

Grow tubes also work but it's a myth that they help grapes grow faster. I don't mess with them. Why buy plastic when you don't have to?

And: Notice the slope of my vineyard! Row 1 is 33 degree slope! and Row 6 is 27 degrees. Sloping my vineyard to the south means I can ripen grapes earlier (more sunshine energy per square foot falls on the slope), and in a cool year I can ripen fruit when flat vineyards can't. Come check out Epona Vineyard! Not large but since when does size matter? It is ideas, and quality of execution, that matter most. 

Rose sales climbing fast! Why not try Olequa's Brilliant 2016 Foch Rose?

Thanks to Steve for turning me towards this article.

I also found this one.

Some salient points:
1. Rose wine sales are headed sharply up.
2. In France, more rose is drunk now than whites!
3. Men are drinking more and more rose.

This is great news. All colors of wine need to be enjoyed by all winelovers!

I am particularly enjoying Olequa's Rose of Marechal Foch. It has a brilliant clarity, a bright and inviting deep red color, and loads and loads of jam-packed strawberries, cherries, and cranberries, riding on a strong acid backbone. This is a wine for summer! Serve it chilled. Keep some for Thanksgiving! because this would be awesome awesome awesome with turkey. Don't worry any more about gerrymandering Pinot Noir or Merlot or Gewurz or Riesling into the Turkey Tango--just use this wine! I promise. If you want to buy this one from me, it's just $13 with more flavor in each bottle than you have ever had! Email me at . Epona Wines (virtual wine retailer)...

(image credit to Google stock images)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Compare: 2012 Guido K Vintners Sangiovese

Wow! We enjoyed this tonight with Italian-style grilled chicken (slathered in olive oil, Tuscan spices, and fresh Oregano and Rosemary), with whole-wheat egg noodles and a wonderful veggie-heavy cream sauce. This wine came with our K Vintners allocation. The wine is about $42 Retail; wine club members get it at a cheaper tariff.

Wow! What a nice wine. Not too fruit-forward, though truth be told I appreciate nice fruit notes in a wine. Compared to a good Italian Sangio, this was fruitier, and had much better bouquet, and was delightful with the above dinner. We drank the bottle effortlessly, with gusto.

This wine came to us through our K Vintners club membership. Not sure how difficult it is to find on the market. But what a pleasure!

How Climate Change's Extreme Weather Events Affect Grapes and Wine:

  We (Epona) joined the Porto Protocol a year or two ago; it's a collaboration of grapegrowers and winemakers, worldwide, who are focusi...