Sunday, July 30, 2017

Regent Bloom

If you love grapes, you must love grape blooms. One of the world's smallest flowers--so small that the slightest movement of it in the wind is sufficient to pollinate it--no bees or wasps needed (though sometimes they do gather pollen or nectar from grapes).

This is a closeup of a blooming Regent grape. There are five stamens (male), which surround each uva (female)--looking like rays around a little green hill. Once fertilized, the green hill grows into a grape.

You don't have to be big, to be good

OK, that title needs explaining. What it means is: "your business can be small, and still demonstrate high quality."

Now that I see that statement in writing, I think it's a truism. Too obvious to have to write. Heck, a better argument is that once a business gets large, it is more likely to demonstrate LESS quality, not more.

I am moving from bemused to tired, in hearing the first question so often asked by people who find out I have a small vineyard and small commercial winery: "How many acres [of grapes] do you have?" Also popular is, "How many cases [of wine] do you make?"

Don't be those people. They don't mean any ill will, but they just can't think of a better question. We Americans are so conditioned to worry about size, about rank. These folks have no idea how much work it is to care for even a FRACTION of an acre of winegrapes. Especially when those grapes are growing on a 33-degree slope, carefully chosen for its ability to emulate a lower (warmer) latitude. Especially when each vinerow is kept mulched, fed, and weeded, and each aisle is kept mowed (try pushmowing up a 33 degree slope sometime). I'm not trying to be the biggest in anything. I am only trying to be one of the best grapegrowers and vintners in my area who is showing the world what modern grape varieties can do, and why more of us should be growing them and drinking them. That is quite enough of a goal for anybody.

When you root, plant, grow, and care for, each vine by hand, with frequent "touch" throughout the year... when you make wine in small batches, and hand-process it, and hand-bottle it, always striving to learn more, to become better... then you can (or at least might) achieve high quality, regardless of the number of plants you have.

We appreciate "small quality" in various ways, like when a chef leaves her restaurant to cook in your kitchen for you and your friends, or when the local tailor in a tiny shop resizes one of your favorite jackets, by hand, or when you get a handmade Japanese "Santoku" high-carbon steel chef's knife, instead of a mass-produced one. That prized, small-scale quality does not depend on the size of the shop or the number of customers. 

Growing grapes and making wine are no different.

Better questions to ask me would be, "What are you doing that is different, and why are you doing it?"

(photo credit: Crate and Barrel)


Friday, July 14, 2017

More proof that you shouldn't overpay for wine

Check this out. In a blind tasting, a $6 Cab won over all the expensive wines! Not a surprise to me--I always say it is the easiest thing to overpay for a wine--any fool can do it. But why would you? The real skill comes in finding great wines that don't cost much. They exist, in great numbers, and that space is where I can help winelovers a lot. Of course, I can sell the expensive bottles also, and in (some, rare) occasions, those are good to have.

Thanks to Robert for pointing me to this article!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Clark County Fair - Wine Competition

I was chosen to help judge this competition. After growing grapes for 25 years and making wine for 22 years and retailing wine for 10 years, it will be a blast to judge wines!

Update: I judged others' winesm but not mine--I would not ever judge my own wines in a competition--and happy to report I won a blue ribbon (1st place), a red ribbon (2nd place), and a 3rd place ribbon for the three Epona wines I entered.

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...