Vineyard Journal Archives

January 8, 2012
Today the Christmas lights came down from the arbors near the winery. Pruning has begun already with a streak of warm weather arriving two days ago. I spent another 2 hours in the vineyard today. It feels good to see a little progress so early. Last year we focused on trellis construction for our new vines and celebrated our first commercial harvests from our older vines. This year we hope to resume work on our winery structure, bringing the interior to where it meets the requirements for a public tasting room.

January 15, 2012
A cluster of 4 tax deadlines come due in January. The first was today for the TTB Report of Operations. I’m discovering I still need to make adjustments to our wine record forms to pool the right numbers for this report. State excise tax is due the 20th, federal excise tax on the 30th and state retail/use tax on the 31st. We will also file our first Schedule C for the business so we have 8 years of start-up expenses to organize.

“death and taxes”

January 20, 2012
There is a rumor of our demise. Someone is spreading speculation that we are out of business before ever starting, or specifically that we’ve ripped out our vines. This is very distressing since our marketing strategy for the first few years was to rely heavily on word of mouth. We realize, of course, that not everyone will say wonderful things about us or our wine, but we never imagined a rumor this deadly. The vines, however, are not always visible from the road for different reasons, but they are still here.

Estimating the cost of construction was, and continues to be, difficult as we are using some unusual materials. Unexpected expenses reveal themselves everyday and frankly we’d like to make a little income before we incur any more debt. Our opening has therefore been delayed for 2 years to this point. People are tired of our “Coming Soon” sign at the road. Truly no one can be more frustrated and disappointed than me. But it is said two things are certain, those being death and taxes. Judging by the stack of tax paperwork on my desk, Country Moon Winery is certainly not dead.

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient [money] to finish it? Lest…all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.'”
– Luke 14:28-30

January 31, 2012
All tax requirements are met – for now. Pruning of the first row of LaCrescents was finished today for a total of 7 hours. What began as an early start was interrupted by some very cold days. I started at the south end of the vineyard where the rows are the shortest. Hmmm…was that the right thing to do? Each row will take me increasingly longer.

February 2, 2012
As the groundhog’s shadow (or lack thereof) predicts the arrival of spring, one phone call today predicted whether we’d be improving our building this spring or even this year. Today’s conversation revealed that to be a public building we’re required to fully heat the structure, casting a huge shadow on our financial plans. Prior to now, we thought a few finished walls and fire exit signs would suffice. We’d like to heat with electric radiant coils in the floor, specifically on top of the existing concrete surface and under a layer of tile. All of this is a large expense we thought would come some time later after installing interior partitions, more plumbing and insulation. Now we are faced with an all-or-nothing situation.

February 5, 2012
Indianapolis is hosting the NFL championship for its first time. The “big game” has come to mean more lately since the Colts have played twice so recently, winning once! As this year’s host city, we’ve had a phenomenal stretch of warm weather for this time of year. The city has built a warming area on the event campus that proved unnecessary, but will likely be a permanent feature for future use. Local news was little else this week save coverage of the crowds and events downtown. As we watch today’s countdown to kickoff, we regret a little that we didn’t join in the festivities. We’ll enjoy pizza later with my folks in front of their big screen. (The “SB” word is a registered trademark of the National Football League of which Country Moon Winery is NOT an official sponsor and has NO commercial or promotional affiliation…but everyone knows that, right?)

February 9, 2012
Every winter there is a special indoor project. This year it was tackling a garbage bag of t-shirts and turning them into a quilt for my niece. The project ended up as two quilt tops and I will take them to a professional to finish on a longarm machine. The basement was a cat-free zone during this time, but Zinfandel got past me one day and quickly found the sweet spot.

February 28, 2012
Brian mowed and burned off part of the meadow that we call the butterfly patch. We like to leave it long in late summer so all the cocoons might survive. Then the flowering asters and goldenrod provide food for the trip south. The rye grass and clover should benefit from this short clip today.

LaCrescent progress:
2/18 2nd row done Low 30/High 45
2/22 3rd row done, creeping to 9 hours/row, Low 34/HIgh 57
2/25 Too cold, Low 24/High 35
2/28 4th row done, 10 hours, Low 45/High 69

March 1, 2012
Storms in Henryville Indiana made the national news. NBC’s Brian Williams called it “some of the strongest weather this planet can produce.” An EF5 tornado ravaged a whole community including a school creating lots of dramatic photos but a surprising low number of casualties. My brother-in-law came way too close to being part of the disaster on his truck route. The randomness of tornadoes make them so terrorizing and fascinating.

March 7, 2012
Daffodil stems are poking up through a skiff of snow. Likewise, I am starting to lift up my head after our construction plan setback and am looking instead at what we CAN do rather than what we cannot. Outdoor events such as tasting parties on the patio are within our current abilities. And selling at farmer’s markets is something we had in mind anyway, so that will become a much higher priority.

March 11, 2012
Two doves were courting on the top brace of our patio arbor. The male (I’m assuming) would do a scooty little dance sideways on the board and then lean over to pick at the neck of the barely tolerant female. Occasionally they would lock beaks and tug back and forth. Brian helped prune today and we got in a good 6-hour session (times 2!) making much visible progress. It’s nice to have a partner.

March 13th, 2012
There always seems to be a big tree down somewhere in the woods. Greg, Paul and Christopher came to help cut up the one that fell across the front ditch last year. Friday the 13th is not the best day to be using chain saws…but thankfully with no problems, a nice stack of firewood resulted. The first pile of vine clippings were burnt off today with a little brush from the tree.

March 17, 2012
The grass is always green again by St. Patrick’s Day! And the dandelions are already here too. We’re implementing the same management system of mowing/bagging/composting we’ve used 2 years prior. Country Moon is bursting with yellow from dandelions, daffodils and the first-time blooms of a forsythia bush. Eight rows of LCs are done.

March 20, 2012
The Vernal Equinox coincides with “bud swell” in the LaCrescent vines this year. A week of record highs is hastening the budding process, even reaching 80 degrees on the 16th. Using a base of 50, we are already at a whopping 196 “degree days” compared to only 37 on this day last year. Two more of the longest LC rows are left to prune.

“the most we can do”

March 26, 2012
FREEZE WARNINGS. We mowed the grass in the vineyard aisles as a measure of frost protection. The shorter grass allows the ground’s heat to escape up toward the fragile buds. It also aids in air drainage, moving a frosty fog hopefully lower than the vines. It’s not much, but it is the most we can do other than pray. Brian worked on both of the small tractors yesterday, giving them their annual tear-down and tune-up. I panic a little with parts all over the floor but he always gets them back together, better than ever.

March 31, 2012
It has been a very warm spring, despite a few frosty lows, with 21 consecutive days of above-normal temperatures. The LaCrescent pruning was completed today with the last row taking 16.25 hours. I believe this was a timely removal of LaCrescent canes creating an efficient use of vigor. Some buds are still tight, some swollen, some 2″ shoots.

April 2, 2012
Started Concord pruning today. The ends of last year’s canes have 1/2″ sprouted buds. The buds at the base of each cane – where we want this year’s cane to come from – these buds are very tight. This is the advantage of delayed pruning. The vine’s buds will begin gradually opening from the farthest end of each cane toward the trunk. Delaying pruning helps the most desirable buds stay tight to survive a late frost.

April 11, 2012
Frost damage is prevalent in the LaCrescents. We escaped damage on the 3/26 event but last night dipped to 29 degrees and judging by the wilted shoots we have patchy damage – about 50% of everything opened. The 2″ shoots are most obviously hurt. Longer shoots of 4-5″ seem okay. The tight buds remain unaffected. This is not EVEN the late freeze we always fear since we are still 5 weeks from the average last frost date. It just got too warm too soon.

April 17th, 2012
Making good progress in the Concords, finishing the 4th row. The surviving shoots in the LaCrescents were long enough to need their fungus spray but I was delayed by strong winds the past 3 days. Just using the wand to spray the wispy shoots for now.

April 20, 2012
Is something burning? No, it’s a skunk under the porch. And speaking of stinky things, we have discovered that our current insurance company is no longer interested in covering our business venture because it involves alcohol. A company that has played a role my whole life in providing insurance and advocacy for my family’s agriculture lifestyle is now telling me that my farm’s value-added product is undesirable. This is the last in a trifecta of distancing by organizations I saw as supporters of agriculture, the first being the Indiana State Fair and then our own county fairgrounds. It shouldn’t shock me but it does. Not everyone shares my perspective that wine is food.

April 27, 2012
Using this rainy day to file away tax records and back-up computer files. Also working out the final details of insurance coverage through Wine America, trying to meet an application deadline for the Noblesville Farmer’s Market that requires a $1 million liability policy. Brian awakened the 8-nozzle spray wagon from its winterization. As foliage increases, I will need it next time. Expecting cold temps tonight but the wind should prevent a frost.

May 4, 2012
8th row done in Concords. 1.6″ of rain this week.

May 12, 2012
Dropping a handful of marbles in an empty wine bottle, we created an item for the Relay for Life auction. The bottle in an “ice bucket” basket along with a gift certificate for wine drew a $35 winning bid. Relay for Life is a national effort of the American Cancer Society to raise money for research and patient services. The Relay events touch many with their message of Celebrate/Remember/Fight Back through a local community experience. Buying an auction item is a great way to make a generous donation to Relay for Life and get a little something in return! This tiny bit of publicity for the winery fits us nicely for now.

May 15, 2012
All pruning is done in the Concords. High of 80 degrees. I am shopping today for items we’ll need for a farmer’s market booth, such as a canopy and anti-fatigue mats. Several recent gifts will come in handy including a hand-carved sign, a basket of silk grapevines and a nail keg. Thanks go to Jim, Kathi and Sandy!

May 19, 2012
Today was opening day of the Noblesville Farmer’s Market. We are pleased with our assigned spot on the south side of the aisle making it easily accessed by our vehicles. It took both the truck and car to carry all of our stuff. Two wooden rocker chairs borrowed from our porch add a rustic touch but I’m concerned they may loosen up with too much transportation. It was a very fun day and a great start to the season. Thanks, Joanie, for the photo!

May 20, 2012
A partial eclipse of the sun occurred just before sundown tonight but the clouds were too thick to see it. The pinhole box proved ridiculous. I was hoping for an eclipse you could look right at! It would have been an awesome ending to a family birthday gathering.

“too windy to keep my hat on”

May 24, 2012
I rewarded myself with a new pair of gloves at the end of the first-pass pruning. Now it is time to start again on the LaCrescents and cut suckers growing from the base, position some shoots for next year’s arms, and thin clusters for balance. But after a short attempt today it was too windy to keep my hat on, even with my scarf chin strap. Aside from that annoyance, it’s not wise to be moving fragile new shoots around in a strong wind. I elected instead to water the strawberries and pull the weeds from their bed.

May 26, 2012
Pretty toasty today with 92 degrees at the Farmer’s Market. We signed up for 20 weeks of the 22-week season. I’m guessing people will get as tired as hearing me say the words “farmer’s market” as they did “septic system.” Herein I will further refer to the Noblesville Farmer’s Market as “the Market.” That should help a little.

May 27, 2012
Brian and I were adding nylon strings today to the posts for the Nortons and Swenson Reds in the 2nd and 3rd wire positions. This gives us a temporary space to train these vines until the end posts and final wires are installed. While we were working, a dust devil came across the field south of us, picking up dozens of corn husks and creating a very visible vortex. The wind came right through where we stood and for a few glorious seconds we were part of the dance.

May 31, 2012
The Norton vines average about 10 minutes each of my attention. Some have a woody growth from last year that can be stretched upward to the top string and across one side. Voila! Some are cut where they can push one shoot to create or finish a trunk. I am accustomed to the hummingbirds arriving each spring at the house but today my first encounter was in the vineyard. A very dark, almost black hummingbird with a red spot zoomed in and hovered face-to-face with me. I’m sure he thought I was a flower because I smelled so sweet! His arrival seems late compared to everything else. He didn’t get the message that we were having an early spring!

June 1, 2012
The month of May was dry at 2 inches behind average in rain. Daylilies are opening – about a month early. Yarrow and lavender are in full color, beautiful opposites on the color wheel.

June 2, 2012
Tent canopies went flying at the Market today as the increasing wind gusts finally took a few across the aisle just before closing time. Brian was able to hold our canopy down until I could get packed and we folded up. We need to work on a weight system. Picked black raspberries today for the first time this season, 3.5 quarts. The persisting breeze made for a nice cool evening but I forgot the routine and wore my usual hiking boots instead of my more washable rubber boots. There is a serious poison ivy cleansing ritual after each berry picking session.

June 4, 2012
Replaced a rotten end post on the east end of Concord #3. We braced it last year with a metal post after noticing it was very thin at ground level. We tied nylon ropes across to the LaCrescent bracing to keep the wires taut while we made the repair. These black locust posts are supposed to outlive me.

June 9, 2012
Sitting in new plastic Adirondack chairs today at the Market and breaking in my new cell phone. I ran my phone through the washer this week in my pants pocket and bought the cheapest replacement I could find. Lost alot of vineyard notes in the form of voice recordings on that phone! Specific things like “making this cut on this vine for this reason.” Those notes would have helped me analyze the result later in the season. I’m often told about the new credit card scanner that works on a smart phone. We’re hesitant to jump on that because our signal is not great on our property. Our credit card system with PayPal works well for now.

June 12, 2012
Happy leaves throughout the vineyard with no signs of distress. Fruit set was very successful on the LaCrescent vines and the grapes are already the size of peas. The overall crop has to be down due to frost damage but just looking today it seems normal. We won’t really know until everything is pressed. The Concords will have 2 crops because of late pruning. Especially the last two rows pruned have a mixture of shoot growth.

June 16, 2012
Brian was alone at the Market today while I prepared to host a wine tasting. Seventeen people, a portion from a large family reunion centered in Indy, chose the winery as their Saturday afternoon excursion. Despite the heat, we were able to create a pleasant space on the patio with shade from the porch and canopy.

June 19, 2012
I’m continuing to tend the LaCrescents. Our outdoor-wise cat, Chardonnay, has taken to following me out to the vineyard. Now that the foliage is substantial, she feels safer to be far away from the house and uses the shady vine rows as her path. Occasionally she gets up in the wheel barrow and lets me push her riding atop the leafy trimmings back to the burn pile.

June 22, 2012
The summer solstice, on the 20th, was the hottest day so far of the year at 93 degrees. We’ve received only 2/10ths of rain since my last spray on May 30th. A tiny shower yesterday created some warm overnight moisture plus an early fog, holding the vines in the fungus danger zone for a long time. I sprayed today as a corrective measure.

“open by appointment”

June 23, 2012
We tempted fate this weekend by putting out OPEN signs while the Dave Matthews Band was in town. The Klipsch Music Center is only a couple of miles down our road so we thought the right tweeter could quickly generate a crowd. Didn’t draw any concert-goers but pulled in several neighbors who have been watching our sign wondering if we’d ever open. The “Coming Soon” portion of our sign at the road is getting a fresh coat of white paint. I’ll replace the letters to say “Open by Appointment.”

June 29, 2012
Topped out at 104 degrees yesterday and we’re at 101 today. Some much-needed rain came too violently in a storm that took down a tree in the woods (of course) and broke a trellis wire in the vineyard. Keeping notes of watering as I rotate from the strawberries, tomatoes, and flowers. We gave the Norton and Swenson Red vines a 2-gallon drink each on the 18th. Probably should have helped them sooner. The strawberry fruit was a no-show for lack of water but the plants are thriving.

July 7, 2012
A miserable 105 degrees at the Market this morning. With a black asphalt footing, it started hot and just got hotter, but faithful attendees made it worth our while to be there. It is fun to see friends from high school that still live in the area. And we thoroughly enjoy our routine of buying a cinnamon roll from Rosie’s Place and a pork sandwich from Grandpa Jay’s every Saturday! In the vineyard, I’m still working as I can on the second pass through LaCrescents, finishing row 8 on Thursday. It’s pleasant in the morning before the sun breaks the plane of the vine cover. I don’t mind the dew on my long sleeves as it helps keep me cool.

July 11, 2012
Local weatherman, Brian Wilkes, says being 8 inches behind in rainfall makes this the driest stretch in Indiana for 104 years! People have hesitated to use the word drought but it’s really starting to get scary. We’re receiving supplies this week in preparation for bottling. Ordered bottles this time from a Pennsylvania manufacturer making them the most local source yet. A new steel deck cart will help us move full cases from the end of the bottling line to the cold storage area.

July 18, 2012
After selling through our first batch of Brambleberry, we felt the pressure to replenish our stock. Bottling today went very well despite the sweltering conditions. A little thunderstorm brought some cooler air for a while. The metal walls of our building greatly magnify any outside noise so thunder is quite an experience.

July 23, 2012
We bottled LaCrescent today, again in the heat. There is a possibility that wine bottled too cool could expand later and push a cork, but there’s no chance we’ll have that particular problem here. This crystal clear white wine required only 1 filter change and we finished sooner than anticipated.

July 24, 2012
The butterflies finally show up! Like the hummingbirds, they are probably on their normal schedule but we are about a month ahead in floral development. Today’s sightings include a monarch, a tiger swallowtail, plus a black and gold beauty I can’t identify. I called him Purdue Pete.

July 30, 2012
Finished suckers in the LCs. Thinning amounted mostly to relieving some stunted shoots of their 2nd or 3rd cluster. The foliage of the strawberry plants was clipped back today. It’s too hot and dry to fertilize them right now.

August 7, 2012
Starting the 1st of the month, the Concord suckers are already done. There weren’t many suckers, again confirming to me that they are happy with the number of buds they have to push. Very little cluster thinning as well since the canes and spurs seem strong enough to handle the weight of what is developing. The last few rows are thin overall. Friends from Alabama visited yesterday and we enjoyed some burgers on the porch.

August 8, 2012
We volunteered to man the booth at the State Fair for the Indiana Winery & Vineyard Association supported by the Purdue Wine Grape Team. Postcards were handed out promoting the Indiana Wines website (indianawines.org) and we enjoyed talking to people about their experiences with Indiana wines. The State Fair board had once considered allowing local wine and beer sales at the fair but decided against it. For the evening’s work we were rewarded with vouchers for ribeye and pork sandwiches. Yum!

August 11, 2012
Five inches of rain this week soaked in quickly but helped to take the crunch out of the very dry grass. I bought 3 happy bunches of potted zinnias from Kercheval’s Nursery today, our neighboring booth at the Market. We feel fortunate to always have flowers next to us creating a pretty wall. I will plant the zinnia bunches soon but today I used them temporarily to brighten our patio for a tasting party. A group of young ladies gathered here as a part of the evening’s bachelorette party. Congratulations to Diana and we wish her and the groom the best!

August 15, 2012
Collected field samples of LaCrescent grapes today using quart zip-close freezer bags. Each full bag of clusters, when crushed in my hands, yields just enough juice to get a good hydrometer reading. Five samples were collected from various positions regarding sunlight. My tests would suggest the amount of sun seems to cause more variation in acid reduction than in sugar development. Nice pineapple flavor but of course a little stemmy.

August 18, 2012
Today was picking day for LaCrescents and with the yield down we got them all in one day. It’s about two weeks earlier than last year but the berries were starting to fall off. Many faithful helpers turned out to pick! I was late setting out lunch because the deli lost my order and had to make it while I (we all) waited. Otherwise a pleasant sunny day! Even though this harvest was only 46% of last year, it is very high quality juice because of the dry summer. We receive it thankfully from the Lord’s hand.

August 25, 2012
A nice opportunity arose to take our wine booth to Becknology Days at Beck’s Hybrids in Atlanta, Indiana. It was a three-day event, Thursday through Saturday. I had heard of this ambitious effort for years since it entertains thousands of farming families in central Indiana and beyond. We gave free wine tastings and were allowed to sell wine by the bottle. A large sign was prepared at my father’s suggestion that helped increase our visibility across the huge room. It felt natural to be there representing Indiana wine since we are one of the nearest wineries to the Beck’s facility.

August 27, 2012
My head was still reeling from the busy weekend and I accidentally stood up a friend for something we had planned to attend yesterday. She forgave me and went ahead. But the event was continuing today and knowing it’s more fun with a pal, I invited my mom along. “Table Settings from Around the World” is an annual display hosted by Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis. They “sell” space to local designers, florists, event planners and retailers who have an interest in reviving the art of dining. This is the 5th year I’ve attended and I am continually inspired by all the creative ideas.

August 28, 2012
The two most northern rows of Concords had a double crop of clusters. Due to my delayed pruning strategy, there were many well-developed shoots that I spared when I finally did prune, departing somewhat from my usual form. And these advanced shoots had very ripe grapes. But it’s no problem since Susie, the grape pie lady, needed a 5-gallon bucket full and that’s just what there was! I love it when things work out even.

August 31, 2012
We moved LaCrescent wine off of its used-up yeast sediment into a fresh clean vessel. Brian’s Uncle Lee passed away today. I regret that we didn’t have the winery finished before he could hang out in the cafe space. He looked forward to the day when he could come “get a sandwich.”

September 1, 2012
It’s Labor Day weekend and we’re back at the Market today after missing the last two Saturdays. On our application we estimated we would attend 20 of 22 weeks so we’ll be 1 less than that. Maybe we should have been picking Concords today because they are calling for rain soon. But we hated to miss Market 3 weeks in a row. And maybe our helpers would rather not work on a holiday weekend. Tough call.

September 8, 2012
I might have let the Concords hang yet for another week, but a whopping 6″ of rain forces our hand. We had to ferry the pickers across several inches of water in the the swale using the garden tractor. The high water clearly illustrated why our vine rows are placed at a diagonal parallel to the ditch. Some of the berries are swelled and split open and the oldest wounds are already a little rotten. We used some of our generous volunteers to do hand sorting before crushing. Removing those soured areas will help avoid off odors in the finished wine. Our crushed must volume is 55% of last year.

September 14, 2012
We conducted two pump overs during fermentation this week in addition to twice-daily punch downs, then moved the Concord wine off the skins today. It smells happy and healthy!

September 15, 2012
Cool temperatures were forecast for this morning so that factored into choosing clothes that would suit both the Market and an informal wedding. At closing time we scooted out and headed 2 hours north, arriving just as the groom called people to gather around the elevated porch. His sister’s farmhouse made a lovely setting for the tender vows expressed. We felt so blessed to be a witness to this miracle. Congratulations, Shawn & Tami. May God bless you always.

September 29, 2012
We held three wine tastings by appointment this week. People are catching on but seem a little shy about calling. It’s funny that we had more curious visitors venture down the driveway when the sign said “Coming Soon.” I’m afraid that our “Open by Appointment” arrangement seems a little standoff-ish but it’s all we can do for now. Running out of nice weather so our outdoor opportunities will dwindle. The patio was brightened with gorgeous mums from Garden Thyme. We’ve had sensible amounts of rain lately and the grass is recovering nicely.

October 6, 2012
Brrrr…it was downright cold at Market today after a hard freeze last night. We did an abbreviated version of the booth and sat in the hatch of the car to stay warm

October 13, 2012
Already it is the last Market of the year. Time does fly, but thanks to Brian’s design the tent never did. Stone blocks bolted to the bottom of each leg held us firmly on the ground all season. We’ll miss our fellow vendors who have become friends by now. And farewell, dear cinnamon rolls, until next year!

“Harvest Celebration”

October 14, 2012
We had been generating a mailing list and telling people that we would have special events at the winery. The extreme weather prohibited us from doing much all summer but today begins our Harvest Celebration. For the next 7 days we’ll be open for wine tastings, bottle sales and various activities. This first day we had a dedication ceremony for our first commercial release of LaCrescent. The weather this year makes us realize how little control we actually have as grape growers and how dependent we are on the Lord for everything we have.

“…If ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments…I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil…” – Deuteronomy 11:13, 14

October 15, 2012
In an effort to help people imagine what they can do here at the winery, we gave each of our festival days this week a theme. Today was Campfire Day. Carefully prepared kits for S’mores were a hit with the triplets in our family. As a gift, we received a beautiful framed photograph of grape clusters. Our photographer angel, Michael, befriended us and our vineyard this year. The print quickly became part of the festival’s wine display.

October 16, 2012
All we could say was, “Wow, they really missed it,” as we had expected a bigger crowd. Tuesday may not have been the best night to present “Music on the Patio,” but I imagined it would be date night or girls’ night out. This being our most invested activity we hoped for good weather and it turned out to be a beautiful evening – a tiny bit cool, but the buildings blocked the breeze and the fire pits warmed the air. Pizza delivery was available from nearby Pennsylvania Station in Lapel. Our group enjoyed both a Chicken Club and Meat Lover’s pizza while the DJ filled the air with light rock and jazz.

October 17, 2012
Designated as the night for Do-It-Yourself Barbeque (or DIYBBQ) we were washed out by 7/10ths inches of rain. We now have a stockpile of charcoal for some future use.

October 18, 2012
It’s Tailgate Day! We hope to educate people that they are always welcome to use the winery grounds for a tailgate meal. There are plenty of spots to pull a vehicle off the drive and enjoy the 5 wooded acres. Today our sycamore trees are at peak with their huge leaves a mottled mixture of every fall color. The vineyard’s leaves are crispy brown but glow orange as the sun gets low in the sky.

October 19, 2012
Another rainy day discourages what could have been a nice crowd for a Corn Hole tournament. We brushed up on the official rules in preparation. Texy Mexy was kind enough to move their tamale food service to tomorrow.

October 20, 2012
The sun came out to create the warmest day this week! Billed as Cruise-In Day, visitors brought their convertibles and motorcycles out for a last blast in the fall weather. Today drew the biggest crowd and we enjoyed catching up with old friends. The steaming tamales were awesome but the bread pudding…oh, the bread pudding!!

October 21, 2012
The last day of the Harvest Celebration was the nicest yet! Our newlywed friends came early to help set up and then fully embraced the theme of Family Picnic Day. They even shared extra sandwiches and chips with us. Our second busiest day was a nice cap to the week. We are grateful to Alex for his work during the festival and to all who participated with their help and enthusiasm!

October 30th, 2012
It’s been 5 years already? My food manager certification is expiring so today I’m back in the Serv Safe class.

“The new phone books are here!”

November 2, 2012
The new phone books are here! We felt we were official when our crusher arrived but this is even better! Back in June we changed our landline phone service to a business line. It now appears in the business listing as Country Moon Winery and in the Yellow Page listings under Wineries in both the Indianapolis and North Suburban books. Well, it should – but three out of 4 isn’t bad. Since June the number is available by calling “411 Information” and the online listings will update themselves over time. This is part of the gradual eke-out approach instead of a grand opening. Personal calls made to the house will hear the business voice mail. But it’s just us. Business or personal, we’ll get the message.

November 8, 2012
Another opportunity has presented itself. Smith’s Family Farms in Pendleton is hosting a Winter Market every 2nd Thursday evening from November through April. Smith’s have a beef cattle farm and sell freezer meat as well as host agritourism events. The farmer’s market is held inside their nice and new party barn. Tonight was our first evening there and we were pleased with the attendance. Unlike the Noblesville venue, this host is allowing us to give sample tastings. In both situations it’s handy to say that we are located just 6 miles down State Road 38.

November 11, 2012
We moved all of our new wine yesterday and finished up cleaning today. Both the red and white wines are fresh and fruity. In their clean tanks they should continue to clear over the winter. Acid levels will drop as crystals form in the chilly temperatures.

November 12, 2012
Today I’m catching up on all my wine records, gathering all my scattered notes where ever they may be and getting them in the book where they belong.

November 17, 2012
Mulched the strawberry patch today for its winter’s nap. Received a pleasant surprise this week from a neighbor who brought us a whole quart jar of honey. We had learned recently that a honeybee works all season to produce only a 1/4 teaspoon of honey. Holding that huge jar felt like a treasure of solid gold. Thanks Rod for this generous gift!

“The winter of our discount tent”

November 19, 2012
We set up a Christmas display today in our summer canopy of all places. Side panels were available online and we added a space heater to create a tiny temporary retail space just inside the double doors. It reminds me of a Red Green skit titled ,”The winter of our discount tent,” being a somewhat redneck solution in our limited situation. Email notices were sent to those on our list announcing the 11 days we will be open between now and Christmas. We chose not to incur the expense of mailing postcards, hoping people will know to check the website if they’re wondering about holiday hours.

December 3, 2012
Brian is in his heaven today organizing the garage. It was an eerie 69 degrees and he made good use of it, while I let it slip by doing who knows what indoors.

December 13, 2012
We were at Smith’s market again tonight and had a nice turnout. We bartered with a neighboring chicken farm, trading wine for frozen whole chickens. I was surprised at the humbling effect those dead birds had on me, holding their frozen bodies in my hands and weighing their lives against the quality of our wine.

December 21, 2012
Today is the Winter Solstice and we think it’s something to celebrate – because from here the days start to get longer! With the sun so far south on the horizon, the ancients feared it would wander off and leave them dark and cold. They built large fires on high places to encourage the sun to stay. The tradition of the yule log may have evolved from this practice, starting first as a whole tree and later becoming a fireplace-sized limb. Today the “yule log” is a video we watch on our television. What a great example of how traditions and culture change with technology. I’ve heard it said that tradition is something we’ve done for so long that we forget why.

So tonight during our “Longest Night” celebration, we encouraged visitors to make a symbolic yule log out of a piece of parchment paper. First we would write on it our own biggest fears, then roll and tie it up with flourish. By throwing that rolled paper in the bright outdoor fire I reminded myself how all fears are common to man and how time has a way of working things out.

“And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.'” – Luke 2:10