Sunday, November 23, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 24: Autumn Turns To Winter

Hi all:

Down here in the vineyard, the leaves are turning from their bright summer green, to a brilliant yellow & finally to a dark, rich maroon.  Indian Summer, our California Autumn, is slowly slipping away and the cold afternoons are upon us.  Winter is approaching in only a month .... and it is time to think about pruning.

After all the leaves have fallen, probably late in  January, we will plan to prune all the growth down to one main cane, which will become the trunk of these first year vines.  In my spare time, I have been reading all the "How To's" from agricultural extensions and alike, but the best source for pruning that I have found, so far, is a book (and a DVD!) from a UC-Davis trained horticulturalist, Lon Rombough, who now resides in Oregon.

Hey, following up with our little friends, the gophers (not!), Landscape Pest Control, who specializes in small vineyard and landscape pest control, has treated the vineyard for our little problem.  So now we are on the watch for any intrusion back into the vineyard over the next 30 days by these burrowing demons!  We have one mole living in the vineyard, but moles are beneficial as they are insectivores, so he gets to stay!  The rest of you guys, stay out!!

Wishing you well from down in the vineyard,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Young Oak Vineyards - Vol. 23: Our Bountiful Horn 'O Plenty

Well, the Autumn harvest has come and gone at Young Oak Vineyards.  In our first "crush", we picked our 2008 crop (in less than five minutes).  Yes, that is our entire 2008 grape harvest in my left hand!   At least we had a few grapes to get a taste of what is to come!

Notice the more purplish grapes toward the middle of the cluster, which are fully ripe, as opposed to the darker blues ones, which could have stayed on the vine a bit longer.  But both are very sweet.  My neighbor, Mark Vernon showed me another indicator as to the grape's ripeness by looking at the color of the seeds, which were still a bit green in shade on the dark blue grapes indicating not fully ripened.

In other harvest news, our bee man, Alan, came by the other weekend and we got a chance to see how our hive is fairing.  As we have just had our hive installed this late summer, we are not going to be able to harvest any honey until next spring.  But just to be sure that the bees are doing well and have enough food for the winter, we checked it out recently.  After my youngest daughter, Suzie and my son, Scott, suited up, we were ready to open the hive and see how things are going!  I stood about 10-12 feet away and amazingly the bees were not riled up by our intrusion. 
Alan showed us the different frames where honey was being stored or eggs were being laid for new bees.  The hive was in pretty good shape considering its move from Roseville to our house, about 150 miles (240 km).

In goat news, our female, Ellie Mae, is now confirmed pregnant, as we took her down to our local vet, Adobe Animal Hospital.  She was quite a hit with the staff and the patrons, with everyone petting, poking and prodding her belly.  But the ultra-sound confirmed at least two beating hearts (other than Ellie's) and an X-ray showed two distinct fetal skeletons and possibly a third.  At any rate, we are going to have the best Christmas Nativity manger scene in the neighborhood!  We just have to find a newborn baby!

All in all, things are going pretty well at the vineyard.  The Autumn rains have allowed us to stop our weekly watering.  But our constant vigil against the gophers continues.  With the colder weather, the vine canes have turned color from their bright green to a rich red-brown as the older green leaves are starting to turn color as well.  I am staying warm by the fire this weekend and wishing you well from down in the vineyard.