Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 17: Water Consumption

Hi all:

Hey, It's my son's birthday! Happy 28th Birthday, Scott! He is currently off traipsing around Kyrgyzstan on a holiday! But Katie, my 16 year old daughter, will be visiting Scott in Finland in a week, where he currently resides.  He has planned a world-wind trip for them, flying to Budapest, then by train/car to Bratislava, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich & Frankfurt, visiting friends along the way! Then flying to Estonia to ferry back to Helsinki! Sounds like a
John Candy Movie  or Mel Brook's  If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium!

Closer to home, just look at those grapevines! My youngest daughter, Suzie, is 5' 7" and several of the vines are almost as tall as she is.

As we had in Palo Alto, we have the wonderful, but contriversal
Yosemite/Hetch-Hetchy West Bay water up here in Los Altos Hills. Since we moved here, our home water usage has been about 8 WU per month (water units, where 1 WU = 100 cubic feet of water). Hey, that is on the lowest usage billing tier, for anyone who is checking on my water conservation during our drought, by the way! Also, we don't have any landscaping, just weeds!

Well, after the March vineyard planting, our water usage has gone up to an average of 18 WU per month with a high of 30 WU during the May/June 2008 heat waves. Cutting to the chase, it was costing $25.63 per month, on average, to water the grapes
by hand, using about 7,500 gallons a month. This has really allayed my fears of horrendous, multi-$100 water bills!

Also, we started using the drip system over 4th of July weekend, watering for 4 hours (at one gallon an hour) every 4-5 days or even longer. That would be about only 6,000 gallons a month. That is a reduction in our current usage by about 20%. We will just have to wait & see if we have any $20.50 per month bills in the future!

The featured musician of this edition of the Young Oak Vineyards Blog is
Ottmar Liebert with "Bullfighter's Dream". Ottmar is a extremely talented German guitarist, first starting as a rock musician, then becoming one of the world most foremost Nouveau Flamenco guitarists. He has a great website with a diary blog (just like me!!), lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, US and is into environmentalism, Buddhism & photography among his many other creative talents & interests!

Bullfighters Dream - Ottmar Liebert
Drinking Mojitos & wishing you well from down in the vineyard,

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 16: Wine & Music !!

Hi all:

One month into summer and I have so many projects still to complete. But the grapevines just keep growing & growing down in the vineyard and there has been no sign of the deer coming back after we patched the "hole" in the fence. It is truly amazing, considering we just planted these vines 135 days ago. My watering system still has some bugs in it, but I am slowly addressing the non-cooperative emitters and the faulty plastic tubes as the former clog and the latter leak.

Needless to say, I have had more time to work on the old Chateau du Sphar. Daughter Suzie now has new halogen track lighting washing her walls and soon her sister,Katie, will have same. Perhaps, Kristen will even get new bedroom lights soon!!

As you have probably noticed by now, I have added a music widget to the "Young Oak Vineyards Blog". I find this initial piece by
Pat Metheney, Sueño Con Mexico, to be very soothing. Pat is a most eclectic guitarist who experiments with many different styles & sounds. I hope you will enjoy it.Sueño con Mexico.mp3 - Pat Metheny -
Forgot to mention a couple of weeks back, we attended a very enjoyable wine bottling of a Petite Sarah blend at
The Bacchus Winemaking Club in San Carlos. Very Interesting facility located on Industrial Road off of Whipple Road. The owner also bottles his own line of award winning wines as the Domenico Winery at the same location.

Wishing you a wonder-filled mid-summer from down in the vineyard,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 15: Vino Locale

Hi all,

Since I have finished the vineyard watering system, I now have time to do other things, like go to lunch with my dear friend,
Lynn Fielder. We went to Vino Locale, which features meals made from local foods, featuring local wines & local artwork. Lynn displays her jewelry creations there and is instrumental in selecting the featured artists.  (Click Lynn or Vino Locale to see their websites.)   It was great catching up with Lynn. Her family has a Finnish heritage & connection, hosting a Finnish exchange student a few years back, which has been a great contact for my son Scott, who did his masters there and now resides in Helsinki.

Lynn & I had a fabulous lunch and sampled a flight of local Pinot Noirs. We started with the "Crostini Sampler" with home grown pesto and a wonderful pâté, followed by delicious grilled tri-tip sandwiches and completed with petit mocha cheesecakes.
Vino Locale has a great wine cellar of small (& some not so small) local wineries within a 75 miles radius of Palo Alto. I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful restaurant !!

Regards, John

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 14: The Trellis's Are Up!!

Hi all,

Hope you all are enjoying a great 4th of July weekend! Having the summer off has allowed me to do a lot of projects at home, and we have made a lot of progress in the vineyard as well. We have finally put up the trellis wires and now you can see why we put the posts in at an angle, to pull against 75 feet of wire and eventually the weight of the fruit ladened vines! I must say, the vineyard is really taking shape!

Many vines have reached over two feet in height and a few are even four feet. Several vines have developed green, unripened grapes berries about one centimeter in diameter (that's 0.4 inches for you non-metric folk).

I had intended to use grow tubes to protect the grapevines from the critters, however, Ron of Vinescape suggested I just allow the grapevines to grow unpruned and unfettered, to allow the root system to fully develop over the first year. Generally speaking, the root system below the ground is about the same size as the foliage is above ground. To use the grow tube, you have to prune the grapevine down to only one shoot, which you would train up as the trunk of the vine. For this we will wait until the late Fall / Winter season when I will learn about pruning.

A couple of days ago, when I was working with a couple of my amigos, five deer came wandering into the vineyard under my neighbor’s deck. This answers my question of how these guys have been getting in and browsing on the grape leaves. Now that we have plugged that leak, hopefully we have eliminated our deer problem!

Keepin' it "Safe & Sane" in the vineyard!