Thursday, June 22, 2006

I never thought a winemaker would be this busy in June

I must have led a very sheltered life.

Despite having been in the wine production business for about ten years, I'd never experienced what I'm going through this late spring-summer.

Usually the cellar is a quiet place for me at this time of the year. A little tasting, a little lab work, some planning sessions for the coming vintage; a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future.

This year saw an ownership change of the winery that is my prime focus and with that came responsibility for the whole 7 acres, inside and out. It doesn't sound like much but remember I'm the inside guy. It's been a steep learning curve. I've called in some favours and asked a lot of questions. Sure, I'm behind schedule. But it looks like most farmers are.

I've got one year old and three year old blocks of Gew and PG to tend. They need training and tucking. I've still got some wires to pull and anchors to install. We had to hand weed an acre of Chardonnay in a block we've nicknamed the Bayou because it sounds better than 'swamp'. We had to hand weed because I missed the envelope where I could nail the weeds with Round-Up and still miss the year old vines. We were inside wasting our time bottling or something.

I've got 1300 Merlot sitting in cold storage that should have been in the ground a month ago. Hopefully they'll meet the dirt on Tuesday.

I've got deer fence going up tomorrow and posts being pounded for the new Merlot.

I've just about completed the sub-surface irrigation for the new block with Scott Robinson's help and we figured it out by digging up some of the established lines and eyeballing the results.

I've got a nice tan on my face, neck, forearms and legs below the shorts and above the Blundstones. Just like a farmer.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Wine labeling and vine enabling . . .

If it rains we head inside the winery and label. Township 7 and other small wineries often bottle 'shiners' - bottles without labels and foils - because the technology we have is too slow to keep up with the bottler. Or perhaps the labels are not ready yet. So we label at a later date.

This is our little MEB benchtop labeler. A couple of weeks ago the drive spool (as indicated) bearings seized and it had to go to the wine machinery hospital. She works fine now. Thanks to the guys at CellarTek for the help.

If the sun shines we head outside. We've just completed our early suckering. We take all the shoots off the vine below the fruit wire. This allows the vine to concentrate energy in the remaining vines and allows us to kill all the weeds around their trunks.

Perhaps these photos will illustrate this.



Thursday, June 01, 2006

Communication for Wine Maker is Key

I'm considering updating my phone.

I'm looking at the UTStarcom 6700.

One of the US manifestations of this unit is the Sprint PPC6700.

Anybody have any comments?

Like the PDA format and the slideout QWERTY keyboard.

Are they tough?

What about the phone quality?

I'm back!

Took some time to look at what I was trying to accomplish with this blog.

At times it seemed the blog was running a part of my life. It was like I was writing to deadline back in my old journalist days but this time I wasn't getting a cheque. (USA = 'check')

I realize that to make this blog a commercial success I would have to generate a substantial revenue. This would take a lot of time and energy. That would accomplish two things:
1) it would take away from my primary focus - producing great wine for my clients.
2) it would take away from my family involvement.

Thanks to the readers who have commented on this subject. I respect your opinions.

I will continue this blog. The focus will narrow and the posts will be less frequent. I'll be writing on wine issues as they are intimately connected to what I am doing on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis. As always, I encourage the readers to subscribe to the RSS feed and avoid having to constantly check to see if I posted.