Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where did the summer go? It's the end of August and it never got blisteringly hot, we are just now finishing the harvest of our white grapes, and somehow I feel like summer eluded us. Is it age or strange weather that leaves me feeling confused? Dave kept announcing that the hot weather was finally here to stay, but it never was. So harvest is weeks behind what we have come to expect. I guess that's OK. 

In any case, the whites are now done, and we are preparing for harvest of the red wines. I don't know when that will be. Two weeks from now? Longer?

Harvest has been fun, and we have had the opportunity to get to know people in new ways as they came out to help. "Many hands make light work" has never been more true. People as diverse as middle and high school students and retirees, friends and family, and people we didn't really know well before have come out to help. A few more weeks and this year's harvest will be completely done. I have to admit that I feel sad when I look at the vineyard, at the vines that no longer have grapes. I know it's part of the cycle, but there is a feeling of anticipation when the grapes are still on the vine that I miss once the harvest is done. 

However, there is a satisfaction (and relief) when the grapes are safely harvested and are fermenting away, becoming wine. The cellar smells really good right now! 

We are very happy with the taste of our wines from last year. They have matured very nicely, and we are proud of them. We took them to the Taste of Butler dinner, where they were quite well received, and where we had a great time. It was an excellent dinner, and reminded all of us there what opportunities we have in locally produced foods. We do live well out here in the country. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Harvest season has finally arrived!

It has been such a cool and rainy summer that the grapes are ripening very slowly, but they are finally ripening. The photo shows some of our Norton grapes, finally making progress. They will be deep blackish purple before they are ready.

The white grapes are starting to really arrive. We harvested the Seyval and Vignoles grapes last weekend, and we hope to bring in the Chardonel on Saturday. The Traminette still have a ways to go. It is such a relief and a joy to have wine starting to ferment in the cellar. It smells really good down there!
So if we can keep the grapes protected from the rain, the bugs, the birds and the deer for a little longer (did I mention fungus?) we should have a harvest to be proud of.
We will be taking wine to the Taste of Butler, a dinner of Butler County foods, on Thursday. We are actually in Harvey County, but I guess we are close enough. And our White Barrel Reserve will be in the People's Choice Wine Judging at the State Fair on September 5th. (If you go, vote for us!) But if you really want to try the wines, come visit.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Growing grapes is not for the faint of heart. (Actually, I don't think any type of farming is.) We are waiting anxiously for the grapes to ripen, but the weather is not cooperating. Neither are the pests. We have had cool and rainy weather for the last several days, so the grapes aren't making much progress but are more susceptible to fungus. (3 inches in the last 4 days-hard to believe it is August.)
And the birds and turkeys which last week were just decorative have become dangerous. The grapes are ripe enough to attract them!
This year for the first time we have applied bird netting to try to slow them down. It does seem to be helping, but we don't have everything covered. I think in the future we will. Dave put together a device to apply the netting that worked really well, surprising even him. So we hope that at least some grapes will survive until harvest. I just keep thinking we will start that process any day now, but no. Not yet.
However, one of the red wines that we bottled a couple of weeks ago tastes really good! It is our Dodging Tornados wine, Chambourcin blended with a little Cabernet, made dry. We are really excited about it, and we are starting to selling it now. The other reds should be ready for release within a few weeks if all goes according to plan.
If you read this blog and are interested in helping with harvest (whenever it happens), let us know. Send an email to and we will add you to the email notification list. No obligation, lots of fun and a free lunch too!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Thank goodness July is over. It wasn't an easy month.

I could say that I haven't written because we had too many family obligations, which would be somewhat true. We went to Colorado for a family reunion to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. (An absolutely marvelous time, by the way!) Then we had family members visit here-Dave's parents, his cousin, his brother and wife... Then we got to move the boys home from Lawrence. It has been busy, but now we have Jeff here doing an internship with us, which I think will be a very good thing.

But the truth is that the wines have been frustrating. So have the grapes. The grapes seem to be taking forever to ripen. Last year at this time we were harvesting. This year the grapes are so slow, painfully slow, to even start to turn color. I don't know when harvest will start, but not this week or next.

And we have had some ups and downs with the wines. The Seyval and the Rose had some issues, so we have suspended sales of them for now. (We do still have the Barrel Reserve White.) We have bottled some reds, so when they get through bottle shock, in another month or so, we will have reds to sell as well. We have certainly learned a lot in the process.
We survived our inspection by the Kansas Department of Agriculture today, so I guess that's good news. It was scary, but not as bad as I expected.
So the bottom line is that, like all procrastination, once I started avoiding this blog it became easier to just keep avoiding it. And it hung over my head, calling to me. So I'm back. And anyway...
Life at the vineyard is still sweet. We see the birds and butterflies, wild turkeys and quail, and just soak in the peace and quiet. We have kittens for a constant source of entertainment. It's a good place to be, and August will be a better month. Come visit!