January 6, 2011
Once again a new crescent moon hangs in the evening
sky reminding us that it's time for our monthly business meeting.
We chose this lunar stimulus to keep the members of the LLC in close
communication regarding the business operations and goals. Of course,
that's just my husband and myself but time does have a way of going
by. Sitting down and taking notes of our conversation sometimes
seems silly, but important decisions must be made with full presence
of mind. A full plate of pasta and a full glass of wine helps too.
This meeting will address the tank of new apple wine we produced
last year shortly after our licenses were in place. We'll also discuss
filing our first report with the Tax and Trade Bureau for 2010 production.
If we'd waited a few days on making wine, we could have avoided
this report but it is good practice!
January 10, 2011
Placing an order for juice today. After two previous
harvests, it is ironic that by the time we were ready to make commercial
wine, our own grapes were not available. Last year's journal tells
the story of hoping to stall fermentation of the Concord juice,
thinking our state permit was coming within days. Well, that permit
didn't surface for weeks and the juice became "family-use" wine
that we cannot legally sell. And the LaCrescent yield was ZERO due
to 2,4-D damage at bloom. So in addition to the apple wine mentioned
earlier, we will purchase some juice for a small batch of red wine
to work with until this year's harvest comes in.
January 17, 2011
The persistent cold stiffened up the gravel driveway
and gave today's delivery truck a solid footing. We received three
barrels of juice from Walker's, a New York company that supplies
much of the Midwest with grape nectar of all sorts. The very helpful
driver showed us how to "steer" the barrels by tipping them up on
the crease and rolling them hand over hand, right over the threshold
of the building and near the tanks. This was far more effective
than the barrel truck we recently purchased.
January 30, 2011
We saw three raccoons in a mating ritual today. Or
maybe it was two and a jousted bystander. Anyway, I think we can
expect another litter of kits in the dead limb of the ash tree again
February 2, 2011
An ice storm has left a 1/2-inch layer of ice on everything.
It is both beautiful and scary. The neighborhood opossum shamelessly
eats at the bird feeder today. That container of seed is probably
the only thing he can shake loose. He is also both beautiful and
reports of loud noises
February 10, 2011
What the freak was THAT! At 5:30am I sat straight
up in bed, wide awake. It seemed I heard a loud boom and was even
propelled to sit up! But then I wasn't sure because I had been sound
asleep when it happened. Maybe someone just kicked in the front
door...but yet the house was totally quiet. Brian wasn't here to
confirm, so I turned on the television to the local news. Nothing
unusual. Blah, blah about nothing for 10 minutes or more. As I begin
to question my sanity, finally they say there are reports of loud
noises in Noblesville and other outlying areas. Someone comes up
with the explanation of a "frost quake."
When I Googled that term there was only 1 entry
that came up. Really, it was only one! Wikipedia had the definition
of a frost quake, or cryoseism, as the sudden cracking in soil or
rock caused by the freezing of water when the ground is saturated.
"Cryoseisms typically occur when temperatures rapidly decrease from
above freezing to subzero in the first cold snap of spring. They
usually occur between midnight and dawn during the coldest part
of the night." These conditions were certainly true this morning.
The internet presence for "frost quakes" grew exponentially throughout
the day. I'm thankful for Wikipedia's pre-existing article or I
would suspect a government cover-up of something!
February 13, 2011
A toast is made to love and long successful marriages
as we celebrate Valentine's Day today with faithful friends. Each
couple brought a bottle to the Champagne brunch for a total of 5
sparkling beverages: 1 from France, 3 from Italy, and the only "methode
champenoise" came from California. They provided a wonderful variety
of fruit, spice and mineral taste sensations to accompany the egg
casserole, spinach puffs and other tidbits of sweet and savory.
February 16, 2011
Pruning started today in the Concords. I pushed the
wheel barrow through the snow but by afternoon I was standing in
several inches of water. The air was 65 degrees today (40 is normal)
but BOY were my feet cold!
February 19, 2011
It's 53 degrees and we used this somewhat warm day
to transfer our wines. Moving the wine off its sediment, or "racking"
as the industry calls it, makes for a long day of careful cleaning
and sanitizing. Later, a silver balloon we retrieved from the top
of a crab apple tree says "You Rock." Thanks, little balloon! We
needed a bit of encouragement.
February 20, 2011
The NASCAR season revs up in Daytona. We love an excuse
to sit (sleep) in front of the television on a Sunday afternoon!
We cheer for Kahne, Martin (when he's running) and whoever is in
front of Johnson!
February 27, 2011
No pruning this past week. Too much rain and flooding.
Three more inches of rain today!
March 3, 2011
Pruning resumed on Monday and 3 rows of Concord are
done. I am focusing on the rows where wires broke last year. Once
these vines are lightened up we can stretch new wires. Solar flares
were forecast for today but I didn't know it until later. To think
I was out there. Yikes!
March 4, 2011
Two inches of rain, then snow.
March 5, 2011
We had the rare treat of celebrating a 60th wedding
anniversary. Happy Anniversary to Bill and Rose (Brian's parents.)
March 7, 2011
We finished repairing broken wires over 4 work sessions.
Creating double top wires in the damaged areas. We replaced staples
with screw-in eyelets.
March 8, 2011
Made some espresso brownies for Fat Tuesday. Looking
forward to the day when I have a commercial kitchen and can share
such things with winery visitors. Should we eat the whole pan before
March 10, 2011
Leaving the Concords in midstream, I move to the LaCrescent
section of the vineyard since I remembered they seemed to progress
faster last year.
March 11, 2011
Japan earthquake 9.0 and tsunami
March 16, 2011
Today was the spring test of the civil defense sirens
used for tornado warnings. Standing in the vineyard I can hear 3
sirens since the addition of the fire station on Olio Road and St.
Vincent's hospital south of I-69. They are only distinguished by
starting a few seconds apart. The sound was both unpleasant and
comforting as I pondered the ongoing disaster in Japan.
"The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many
waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea." - Psalm 93:4
March 19, 2011
At sundown the "super moon" rises to greet us, named
for its current closeness to the earth. This week was a temperature
roller coaster ride with a low of 28 on Tuesday, a high of 70 on
Thursday and back down to 32 on Saturday. These extremes no longer
take me by surprise. They are the normal muscle-stretching of spring
as things awake from their winter nap. Doesn't it feel wonderful
to stretch and then roll over for just a little more sleep!
March 24, 2011
This month has been very wet and blustery. Dodging
the rain and storms, I'm able to prune about 4 days each week. I
don't mind getting caught in a soft rain, at least until my hat
soaks through. But to go out into a pouring rain seems crazy. Yesterday
Noblesville had a suspected tornado they have since labeled a "strong
downdraft." As we drove through the affected neighborhood to see
many tarped roofs and broken-off trees, we were impressed by the
quick action taken by the homeowners.
March 31, 2011
The month ends with a chilly week of snow flurries
while the daffodils are opening. Vineyard status: 3 Concord rows,
6 LaCrescent rows pruned.
April 9, 2011
Buds begin to swell on the LaCrescent vines and the
pink hyacinths come out to celebrate with me! After 5 hard days
of pruning this week, I spent one rainy day tallying last year's
spray records and one day shopping with gal pals.
I hope he enjoyed it!
April 13, 2011
All LaCrescent rows are done with their spring pruning!
By this time I have seen enough little black bugs emerging from
the loose vine bark that I reach for my Pocket Guide for Grape Integrated
Pest Management. Flea beetles? I don't need no stinking flea
beetles! Later that day I became convinced of their necessary
eradication, as I watched one perform its speciality of hollowing
away a perfect pillowy pink bud. The potentiality of that bud is
like eating a 4-foot long shoot and two clusters of grapes! I hope
he enjoyed it! He and his little friends will soon be dead.
April 15, 2011
With the LaCrescents done, I've turned my attention
back to the Concords where I left off at three rows. I also realize
it's time to get formula approvals from the federal authorities
in order to finish our wines. We plan to add cinnamon to our apple
wine which has been very successful in previous trial batches. Also
a black raspberry syrup will be made from our frozen berries as
an additive to a Concord wine base. All this needs the proper paperwork
before we can actually perform it.
April 25, 2011
The rain and warm weather has created an explosion
of mushrooms in the woods. Fried up some Morels and added them to
the green beans at the family Easter smorgasbord. Picked 7 pounds
of different mushrooms (I'll call them Snake Heads) after Brian
took a sample to his office confirming their edibility with a mushroom
fan. We gave these all away but enjoyed gathering up such an bountiful
and unexpected crop.
April 30, 2011
It has rained on 11 of the last 15 days amounting
to over 5 inches. Maintaining proper drainage takes some of my time
during these situations. Our surface water should drain specifically
in two swales on the property but fallen leaves and field corn stubble
can plug these waterways. I head out with rubber boots, rake and
shovel to keep things flowing.
May 1, 2011
Our dogwood tree is blooming for the first time! This
tree was part of a wildlife package we purchased from the state
more than 20 years ago. It was slow to thrive and we moved this
little sapling from the woods 5 years ago, planting it off our back
patio. It soon received a bark gnawing by a rabbit during a heavy
drifted snow and although this could have been the end it came back
the next spring with a vengeance, sending out many new branches.
With these first blooms, we celebrate it's triumph today!
In other news, Osama Bin Laden was killed.
May 7, 2011
Pruning is done for all mature vines. We had a frost
on Wednesday with a low of 36. If this was our last frost then I
can say my timing was good. With our small vineyard, we have the
luxury of delaying pruning which helps gear back the vine's vigor
hopefully past the last frost.
May 10, 2011
The hummingbirds have arrived with the first sighting
two days ago! As I was having my breakfast, a hummingbird came to
the window sticking his long beak in the corners of the frame as
if to tell me this would be a good place for a feeder. Returning
again and again, I reminded him that the feeder is on the other
side of the house. (He should know that since they say the same
birds return to the same place.) Upon closer observation I saw that
he was collecting the spider webs and flying up in the tree. The
bird book confirmed that spider webs are a component in their nest
building. When he came back to the window for more webs, I apologized
for my previous assumption, commended his priorities and wondered
how often I judge the actions of others too quickly. Is it possible
most people have good reasons for what they're doing even if it
looks wrong to me?
May 21, 2011
Norton vines were pruned over the last three days.
Planted in 2008, they and the Swenson Red vines should be producing
this year but we have held them back for lack of thickness at their
base. This year we are pruning most of them to one single bud which
with any luck will become the trunk.
May 22, 2011
Wires were tightened today. This is a 2-person job
and we could have used a third. The ratchets work well but it takes
another set of eyes to make sure the wires are sliding as they should.
They can get pinched in the post staples or within the vines themselves.
May 27, 2011
While pruning the Swenson Red vines today I saw a
deer meander down the neighbor's south fence row. She felt safe
along the tree line, watching me for a few seconds and then continuing
on her mission to take a little nibble from their garden.
June 1, 2011
Memorial Day weekend was good for trellis building
getting 35 posts installed. We used the auger on the tractor to
dig the holes and then tamped them in by hand, keeping them straight
along a string. The soil is nice to work in after receiving sensible
rains for the last two weeks.
Picked the first ripe strawberries today. They are
June-bearers and right on time!
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his
benefits...who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy
youth is renewed like the eagle's. - Psalm 103: 1, 5
June 5, 2011
Brian spent the weekend mowing while I took time off
to play with friends. I've discovered I don't have to own a cottage
on a lake. I just have to know someone who does. Thanks, Barb, for
hosting a relaxing and refreshing weekend!
June 16, 2011
Picked the last of the strawberries today and like
clockwork the black raspberries are ready! Trellis building continues
every evening. We're eating dinner about 10 o'clock. These long
days help with evening projects but I'm still not a Daylight Savings
June 23, 2011
Time to renew the State ATC permit. It's a little
frustrating to pay this fee again before we've even sold our first
bottle of wine.
June 29, 2011
Pesticide damage is evident on the newest LaCrescent
leaves, specifically 2,4-D damage, likely from a nearby corn field.
The Concords are not bothered nearly as much. I hate to see this
happen as it diminishes the vine's ability to gather nutrients through
its leaves. At least we are past fruitset.
July 3, 2011
LaCrescents are done with their second touch. After
pruning, I made a second pass over the last few weeks to thin clusters
and tie up potential cordons.
July 7, 2011
Added some cinnamon sticks to our apple wine for an
infusion of spice. Estimating 1 month contact.
July 19, 2011
A stretch of very hot weather is forecast for this
week. Picked the first tomato yesterday and it was yummy. I heard
the first cicada today, which means something in predicting the
first frost, perhaps being only six weeks away. There is some discrepancy
as to whether the Dog-day cicada song is the first singular, first
chorus or last heard. But who could remember when they last heard
something? Thinning Concords now by working a split shift. A few
hours early in the morning and a few more later in the evening.
The midday heat is too much.
July 30, 2011
Tended Nortons and Swenson Reds. They are so happy
to reach the first wire!
a very close lightning strike
August 3, 2011
An early morning storm produced 7/10ths of rain.
We heard a very close lightning strike that really rattled the house.
August 5, 2011
Joined some friends at the Jazz Festival on the square
in Noblesville this evening. Wine tastings were offered by Matteo's,
Noblesville's downtown upscale Italian restaurant. I really enjoyed
the Sauvignon Blanc from a New Zealand winery. Our friends treated
us to gourmet cheeses and breads underneath a cozy canopy.
August 10, 2011
It is evident that two rows of LaCrescent were affected
by the lightning strike last week. The leaves on the lowest hanging
canes turned an eery gray and now are dying. There is one trellis
post whose lower portion is split off and laying nearby, similar
to how tree bark is blown away from a struck tree. Also an area
of soil mounded up like a huge mole run. The damage is down both
sides of an aisle mostly along the bottom wire for about 1/3 of
the length of each row.
August 14, 2011
There was a tragic accident at the Indiana State Fair
last evening. An estimated 70-mph wind gust caused some stage equipment
to collapse on the crowd gathered for a concert. Several are dead
and many others injured. We were at the fair 3 days prior and you
never think about getting hurt, especially not killed. But we also
pushed our luck last evening as we were trying to finish up a project
when the wind kicked up. The weather has been crazy with 23 days
of 90+ temperatures.
Using two years of frozen black raspberries picked
from the brambles of our front yard, we made a syrup that will become
flavoring for a wine base. This time-consuming process paid off
with every drop of the precious dark essence.
August 27, 2011
Recruiting the help of friends, we bottled our first
commercial batch of wine. We plan to call it Brambleberry as we
have its award-winning prototypes. It has a Concord wine base with
natural black raspberry flavoring added to it. This lowers the alcohol
slightly and raises the acid. We then sweetened it slightly for
balance. It's a simple wine but begs for more attention, like the
marginalized berry bushes it's named after.
Stainless tanks are good for making
Piggy-back with Papaw
September 3, 2011
Next off the bottling line was Apple Spice. We infused
our apple wine with cinnamon for a surprising sensation. Thanks
to all who helped us with our first commercial bottling ventures.
We worked you pretty hard and you are all saints!
September 6, 2011
Some of those saints even showed up a few days later
to help pick LaCrescent grapes! This Labor Day weekend proved to
be very pleasant and cool. A low of 51 degrees kept the first day's
pressings comfy-cool until the rest came in the next day. The settled
juice was pumped to a single tank today and the yeast was released
to do its work. Our yield was good despite the loss from lightning
damage. We are thankful for the hard-working crew of pickers and
works hard at the crank
Taking a break on the porch
Fast pickers wear racing stripes!
September 10, 2011
We haven't said much about the Prairie Star vines
mostly because they've been a little wimpy. This year is the third
year we've held them to a low 5-bud bush to focus their energies.
But they are more vigorous than I thought and put out some substantial
canes that, by the time I noticed, had developed such big clusters
it wouldn't save the vine much energy to cut them off. So we picked
56 pounds of Prairie Star today, tight clusters of big cream-colored
grapes with a frosty bloom, enough to make several small test batches
September 17, 2011
Our cup runneth over! The Concord picking revealed
a bumper crop. We are at our maximum tank capacity including the
use of some borrowed transport barrels. What a nice problem to have!
September 24, 2011
After fermentation and the removal of skins, all of
our new wines fit nicely into our stainless steel tanks. We are
very pleased with the healthy fermentations and the promise of some
happy wines. So it's time to celebrate! A tasting party is planned
for October 1st for family and friends to help say thanks for all
they've done for us!
October 1, 2011
A trailer filled with straw bales became the tabletop
for our feast. Trying some new recipes and some old favorites we
put forth a variety of tastes for the adventuresome palate. Amateur
wines were interspersed with our new horizon releases. We are unable
to sell anything yet as we await label approvals. It wasn't a night
for selling anyway, just celebrating! We even took a victory lap
around the vineyard in the hay wagon!
October 7, 2011
The LaCrescent leaves have all let go and blown away.
Concord foliage is still barely hanging on. The patio garden is
in full fall color with our dogwood tree turning a brilliant red.
The forsythia foliage is a deep purple and the chameleon ground
cover wears a striking combination of red and green.
October 12, 2011
A large number of tomatoes are ripe now, too many
to eat, so I made some tomato sauce. Pretty good but a lot of work.
I'm shocked how reasonably priced the canned vegetables are in the
store. It doesn't motivate me much to garden for the purpose of
canning. But it's been said here before, there's nothing in this
world like homegrown tomatoes!
October 22, 2011
Doing some work this week over the legal drain that
crosses our property. We are using the tiller and the blade on the
tractor to enhance the swale for surface water to move towards the
nearby creek. Too many low spots were collecting water from heavy
rains and the water would get stuck there. We hope to get some grass
seed down as well.
October 25, 2011
Getting acquainted this week with some of the neighbor
animals by feeding them while their owners are away. A beautiful
black and white cat named Blacktoe wonders how I know the secret
to opening his food container. At another farm, the sheep have learned
my car already and run to the hay bunk. The dog and cats there all
like their treats. It's a treat for me as well just to scratch their
furry and wooly heads.
October 27, 2011
A low of 30 degrees tonight, so all the tomatoes came
indoors no matter how green. I'll try to ripen them up in paper
bags to savor every last bite of summer. We've had several frosts
but this is the first hard freeze.
November 2, 2011
Having a little Indian summer now with highs in the
70s. A month ago for the party we had 40s. I wish I could know when
these precious warm days will pop back up.
framed the first dollar
November 10, 2011
A big day on the calendar for us! We SOLD our first
bottle of wine! One of our three label approvals was a real challenge
but it finally came through. With labels fresh from the printers,
we were finally able to tell someone, "Yes," when they asked if
they could buy some wine from us! The arrangement is nothing fancy,
just a quick exchange at the door. I WOULD have framed the first
dollar but it was actually a credit card. So I had to give that
November 15, 2011
Announcements were mailed today to a list of family
and friends who have followed the progress of the winery. We want
to make wine available to them for the holidays so we'll have some
"open" hours at the winery through the end of the year. Our building
is not ready for a public announcement and our inventory could deplete
quickly. We trust our friends will tolerate the rustic transaction.
December 10, 2011
Today we transferred our new wines off their yeast
sediment. The volume loss was 3% and 5% for LaCrescent and Concord
respectfully. The drop in SO2 was 80% and 50%. Everything is topped
up and secure for the winter. We expect the chill in the building
to help with cold stabilization.
December 22, 2011
It's the first day of winter and we are hosting my
family here this evening. Thursday evening is an odd time but that
seemed to work best for everyone this year. It's not often we have
the holiday celebration at our house and I'm looking forward to
a cozy sit-down meal with a little gift giving. The house is decorated
more than usual just by chance, or more likely because of a new
Garden Ridge store in Noblesville.
December 31, 2011
If you could look close enough at the moon
tonight, New Year's Eve, you might see the first of two satellites
enter its orbit. The NASA moon mission "GRAIL" (Gravity Recovery
and Interior Laboratory) was launched on September 10th. The mission
will use the steerable satellites to map the gravitational forces
of the moon. Scientists believe it could provide answers to how
the planets and moons were formed. The second satellite should sync
up tomorrow. Happy New Year!
"And God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament
of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be
for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. And let them
be for lights...to give light upon the earth, and it was so.'" -
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