The Kenwood Press
: 06/01/2013

Good news all around

It’s bloom time in the vineyard

George MacLeod

Just a few days ago all of the tiny, green, bud-like bunches, all with aspirations of becoming grapes, turned into tiny white flowers. And each of these tiny flowers is a potential grape. And, going against conventional thinking, there is not a bee or insect anywhere to help with pollination. It’s as if the vines are thinking, “We can handle this ourselves.” True, the vines are self-pollinating. And just a few days later we have tiny, one-millimeter grapes irregularly displayed in rough bunch-like groups. Suddenly we have a huge family of infant grapes all needing attention, protection, and nurturing.

It is early still, but the evidence is that we will have another super crop for Vintage 2013 – perhaps not as large as 2012, but still great, and consequently we will continue to make our wine drinking customers and our bankers happy.

But still more good news: bloom time this year is at least 10 days earlier than usual. This means that with normal weather, our harvest will be 10 days early and hence maybe dodge rain and/or a hot spell. I keep thinking about what is really going on with me and the vines and our journey together each year. It is as if of the vines are running an obstacle course and I am running alongside full of pep talk! So far this year we have completely dodged March and April frosts and now we have run through bloom time as if it were nothing. And to meet Marie’s request we did indeed have six perfect weather days and got super pollination. I say “Way to go, vines!”

And now a report from Marie of our Sauvignon Blanc and Javier of our Zinfandel.

Marie’s Report

Well, frankly, it’s going to take forever for us Sauvignon Blanc vines to forget the fantastic victory of being chosen as “The Governor’s Choice” for Stanford’s Wine Program.

Before their team arrived, Chuy and his team made our vines and surrounding areas look like a park with discing, weed eating, and suckering. This place never looked so good, and we doubt if it will ever look this beautiful again! This was not the important part, though. What was and is important is that our wine went up against the best before a large committee in a blind tasting and was judged the best of all. Way to go, fellow vines!

Javier’s Report

Congratulations, Marie and the Sauvignon Blanc vines.

You have now set some high bars for all of us to meet. Last year our most recent Vintage 2010 won three gold medals and we expect to do just as well with our Vintage 2011. And just to remind you, our client, Cline Cellars, won a 90 with Zinfandel made from our 2010 grapes.

Patron’s report

All vines, pay attention:

All that glory is history and the issue now is how we move forward with the current crop. Bloom time is over and all our future is now with you. The signals as to crop size and timing are all great. Let's look to our vintage 2013 and go for it!

Here’s a small example of an environmental victory: Amaryllis Belladonna, a.k.a. Pink or Naked Ladies.

Our readers are familiar with the astounding story of this lovely lily. To review, this lily is perfectly adjusted to a climate of wet winters and dry summers, originally coming from South Africa to us via Spain and Portugal. During the rainy season the lily is a flourishing green plant with long narrow leaves.

Beginning around the 1st of May these lush green leaves gradually die and turn a dry tan and gently cover the area above the mother bulbs, leaving no sign that the plant is still alive. In effect the plant will continue apparently dormant until the first or second week of August. But the Old Patron here, in his continued search for order and cleanliness, used to cut off and throw away these dry, dead leaves. Big mistake!

These still securely attached dead leaves make a fantastically effective insulating sombrero, and shield the sleeping bulbs below ground from the hot summer sun. He finally was able to see this example of nature’s way. He no longer hoes and removes the bulb’s sombrero. About the second week of August, the bulbs suddenly come alive and send up a fast growing spear about three feet high right through the dead leaves that bursts into a large cluster of beautiful, aromatic pink flowers. When I was a boy, we kids used to measure how many inches the bulb’s spear would grow each day – two to three inches a day. Astounding! This beautiful pink lady is our ranch icon and decorates all our wine labels.

And note this: the Latin word Belladonna, part of the Pink Lady’s official name, means either poison or beautiful lady. Take your pick!