First things first: another big salute to Mr. Super FIS who is a perfect 2-for-2 on the wine quizzes. At this rate, I will either have to assume he is the most knowledgeable reader or the only reader. Very impressive, sir, now celebrate with a glass of Pinot Noir from the wine region of Burgundy that made it famous.
There was a bit of a lag between posts that I attribute to Memorial Day and trying to complete all the work necessary to obtain a federal permit. Rest assured that the permit part does not require a post of its own; it can be summed up by saying it’s a lot like getting a colonoscopy at the DMV. Now, back to the story…
Thank goodness for research and timely conversations. While in Kentucky on a weekend leading up to Christmas, we were discussing all our vineyard plans with the owner of Rising Son’s Winery. At the forefront of our minds was the fear of spring approaching with no holes in the ground and no trellis to train a vine to.
His question for us was why we were even concerned about the trellis when the plants aren’t even in the ground yet. We hadn’t thought of this. It takes at least a year for a young vine to be trained to the appropriate wire on the trellis and as he pointed out, punching all the holes for vines would have added challenge with a trellis in the way. So which came first, the trellis or the grape? It can actually be accomplished either way, but it made much more sense for us to plant first and then follow with a trellis, during warmer weather and softer soil. Of course, we were also eager to jump at any plan that didn’t involve digging at that time of the year.
This realization called for a deep sigh of relief and a toast to procrastination. No more racking our brains trying to figure out how to dig in the depths of winter. Advice is truly priceless and another of our plans quickly changed during this visit, as I was informed just how difficult it can be to grow a grape from a cutting as opposed to using a 1-2 year old vine. Asher and I were quite confident in growing grapes in theory, and we certainly liked how much smaller the number behind the dollar sign was on a cutting.
Cutting: These are canes from the growing season that just ended. Cuttings are typically dormant and can be gathered up during the pruning process. With a little luck, a talented grower can plant a cutting and a new root system will branch out from what appeared to be a dead stick.
It sounded pretty great to us: purchase a whole bunch of these dormant cuttings, stick them in the ground, and celebrate with all the savings. However, this particular owner communicated his results: gathered some cuttings from fruitful vines, put the cuttings in the ground, still not much in the way of signs of life. This matched similar stories that we had been reading about. Change of plans.
I called Asher for an ad-hoc Saturday afternoon meeting, generally the most effective ones that are called to order after I have been touring a Kentucky winery and he has been sampling Kentucky’s finest export (we strive for the best in our abilities, and yes; we are talking about practice). He agreed that the change in strategy was a good news/good news situation. He was fairly apprehensive about the failure rate of planting cuttings, and putting off the trellis for a warmer day was reason to pop a cork.
Now, I haven’t forgotten that this is a post about the month of December and I feel like it would be a lapse in character if I didn’t mention anything about my reserved, little known love for Christmas. I just can’t help but show the following picture while knowing that a) It doesn’t scream “professional” b) It is at my parent’s house and I’m holding a 2.5 pound poodle c) I was 26 when this picture was taken and d) I have no shame. It’s Christmas.
This picture is most fortuitous though as it reminds me that there were a few wine related gifts under that tree. While it is indeed approaching the time to start thinking about this year’s Christmas playlist and decor (checking lights, dusting the Advent calendar, scouting a tree), it is still a little early to check your gift-giving list for the second time. However, we feel it is our duty to inform you about some of the best gifts for the wine lover in your life (which could be yourself) and will be doing our research to provide a timely Christmas 2013 guide to all things wine just in time for your holiday shopping. Perhaps matching aprons perfect for preparing sugar cookies to be paired with the appropriate wine…
Also, a few weeks had passed since the initial racking of the Grapple and it was high time for re-racking (moving from original carboy to a fresh, clean one). Re-racking is great for all of the character building and liquid clearing, but I would be fibbing if I claimed this as my favorite part. To me, it means it is time for our first taste test! This provides the initial glimpse of the direction of our wine and opportunity to celebrate… or strategize. Being our pilot batch of wine, we had no idea what to expect. Along with tasting the wine, it is also necessary to test the alcohol content to determine exactly where the wine is in the aging process and what alterations will need to be made to the finished product.
The four of us gathered around and filled up small glasses for the moment, toasted, closed our eyes (crossed some fingers), and tipped it back. By the power of beginner’s luck (ok, maybe partly Asher’s knack), this initial tasting was downright delectable. The sugar and acid were not fully balanced yet, but the flavor was there: apple at the front of the nose followed by dry fruity grape and some lingering apple flavors. We quickly sealed the carboy because during the aging process, oxygen is a mortal enemy to wine.