Vineyard Journal Archives

January 4, 2013
I’ve heard it said that we should do on New Year’s Day what we hope to do more of in the coming year. Well, I’m off to a good start! We visited with Brian’s cousins on Tuesday. I had a lovely lunch at the Ruby Pear Tea Parlor with my mother, aunt and sister-in-law on Wednesday. Another lunch with a friend on Thursday and dinner here with friends that evening. I hope, therefore, this year holds lots of gathering times with family and friends!

January 7, 2013
It’s time again to total up last year’s numbers for all types of filing including the TTB Report of Operations due the 15th. That’s certainly not much time after the holiday rush to pull things together but at least my winemaking records are up to date. Our sales reports show a 41% increase over 2012 — not even close to where we need to be, but a nice jump! The “Running Balance Sheet” was amended to help generate totals for expenses, capital purchases, and inventory.

January 10, 2013
Snow cover has persisted since Christmas. This warmer day focused on attending a funeral. The tearful goodbye included a tribute given by the youngest grandson recalling stories told him by the war veteran. It was a memorable moment for all. Later, we stacked boxes full of used blue wine bottles and headed for Strategic Materials in Indianapolis. Cobalt glass collected here is sent to Pennsylvania and made into bottles — likely by the same source from which we bought them. Now that’s the way recycling should work! It’s worth the trip to Indy to make that happen. I couldn’t help but reflect back to the memorial service earlier, seeing how recycling what is valuable – from one generation into the next – takes some effort on everyone’s part.

January 12, 2013
After dinner and Bible study with friends in Lebanon, we drove north on US 31 arriving in Covert, Michigan about midnight. We were on a wood chopping adventure with a goal of cutting enough to keep my cousin’s woodburner going for the rest of the heating season. Anita provided nice meals and hospitality at her country estate – one of several properties available as a vacation rental. Pretty chilly up there with lows of 17. After the work was done, just the girls made a trip to South Haven to check out an “olive oil tasting” store! Brian enjoyed the satellite television. On our way back through Indiana, we stopped for a tasting at McClure’s Orchard & Winery, grabbing 2 wines and a sparkling cider. Came home to lots of rain and flooding.

January 19, 2013
First day of pruning yesterday. This year’s strategy is to shorten all Concord canes with a first pass leaving 10 buds on each cane. These long canes require two cuts generally anyway since they are often tangled and require both arms to remove and wrangle into the wheelbarrow. Also leaving a long segment buys me some late frost protection for the lowest most desirable buds. Then I will move to the LaCrescent vines to prune all the way back, returning finally to the Concords for their final trim. At least that’s the plan!

January 30, 2013
All the year-end forms are filed and taxes paid…even the state use tax! I hope they’re all happy.

“year of the comets”

February 6, 2013
NASA released an article today stating we could experience two naked-eye comets this year. The first in March and the second in November, which some are predicting could be the “best comet ever.” Both comets originate from the Oort cloud and will have their first encounter with the sun. The Naval Research Lab states, “a new comet…is always an unknown quantity equally capable of spectacular displays or dismal failures.” An asteroid is also expected to make a visible near miss very soon on February 15th. I suppose my long-time interest in astronomy has something to do with our winery’s name.

February 7, 2013
In addition to pruning I need an indoor winter project. This year I have two: 1) construction planning, and 2) writing a company event policy. The thought of dealing with construction again makes my stomach ache but we must charge ahead. We have spoken with an installer for spray foam insulation to the interior of our metal structure and are waiting on an estimate. I want all my contractors lined up before I open another building permit. Project 2, the event policy, will get some details down in writing regarding hosting outdoor events here at the winery. The photo is a little table decor from a gathering last year.

February 14, 2013
It’s Valentine’s Day at Winter Market, held at Smith Family Farms in Pendleton. The party barn is full of festive red blossoms, scarves, candies and cupcakes! The Smiths are great hosts, generously providing the vendors with some hot soup for supper. Yum, yum and lots of fun!

February 15, 2013
On the morning drive to work yesterday, many Russians were witness to a meteor event in Chelyabinsk. Amateur photographers, police vehicles, and security cameras all captured video of the rumbling fireball as it shot across the sky looking bigger than the sun! That meteor is supposedly unrelated to the expected near-miss asteroid passing TODAY at only 17,200 miles away–nearer than some satellite orbits. This space rock, named 2012 DA14, is thought to be about 45 meters in diameter and has had NASA’s attention since its discovery last year. “This is a record-setting close approach,” says the Jet Propulsion Lab, “Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we’ve never seen an object this big get so close to Earth.” Unfortunately, the asteroid will only achieve a brightness magnitude of less than 7 making it slightly less than visible by the naked eye. But Russia’s meteor was pretty cool, right?

February 22, 2013
Enjoying the colors of winter today. With the snow gone in the vineyard for now, the grass is a pale yellow and the sky a peaceful gray, like someone bumped down the contrast and saturation. But to the southwest, storm clouds create a dark blue background to the white trunks of the sycamore trees. A sky like that would drive me indoors in the summer but is not as fearsome in winter. Four rows are trimmed now in Concords.

March 5, 2013
The green tips of the daffodils are breaking into the sunshine. This signals to me that spring is fast approaching and I had better wrap up my winter projects. Our construction goal of adding insulation to the building was detoured. The spray foam comes in two versions, open- and closed-cell. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. But it became apparent we should first do what we can on the exterior to create a watertight shell, maybe a flexible ceramic paint. We have two people estimating this process for us.

March 12, 2013
The first of the year’s comets is making a conjunction in the sky with the new crescent moon in the sky tonight. The comet should be visible to the naked eye just to the left of the moon as it sets almost due west. Unfortunately, we are having thunderstorms here in central Indiana this evening. I hope others on the planet are getting good photos of this.

March 19, 2013
The first draft of our winery event policy was sent to the insurance company for their comments. The first-pass pruning in Concords is done and I’ve started in the LaCrescent block. The weather has much improved and I was able to be in vineyard for 9 of the last 11 days!

March 24, 2013
Celebrated the first day of spring Thursday with a friend. A superb gift shop downtown Noblesville, The Linden Tree, poured samples of hot tea into mini flowerpot cups. So cute, and with decorated sugar cookies. Thanks, Barb, for a fun outing! Happy Spring! Today, on Palm Sunday, we have 5 inches of snow!

March 26, 2013
Passover begins at sundown tonight. Although we are not Jewish, after some study of the Old Testament I am drawn to experiment with the festivals. Over the last decade, I’ve grown comfortable with cooking lamb — grilled outdoors over charcoal is best by far. Bitter herbs take the form of a leafy salad with vinaigrette dressing. Today I boiled 6 eggs. One egg was shelled and placed on the show plate to symbolize the wholeness of the Passover sacrifice. The others were put in a small plastic container for later. The five eggs became sheep for one transporting moment, standing crowded shoulder-to-shoulder in a pen.

“..In the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt… I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people…’” – JEREMIAH 7:22-23

April 6, 2013
We get many requests from people wanting used oak barrels. They are hard to come by but today we had the rare opportunity to buy some ourselves from a recently closed winery. It’s unseasonably warm today at 71 degrees, multiplying our enjoyment of the road trip to someplace near Greencastle in pursuit of barrels. We relished our conversation with the now-retired winemaker and met his faithful German Shepherd dog. Had a great lunch at a diner nearby. In Indiana, when in doubt, always order the tenderloin!

April 10, 2013
Bud swell in LaCrescents coincides with the opening of the daffodils and forsythia. We had a hail storm today accompanied with an eery constant thunder. It’s hot and humid at 82 degrees. I hate for summer to jump ahead like this! The last Winter Market is tomorrow evening.

April 13, 2013
Today’s expected appointment rolled down our driveway in a revamped school bus painted up in festive Indianapolis Colts style. Nineteen ladies disembarked where half took a vineyard tour and half had a taste of wine before switching places. Too much fun! A little later Dad, Ron and Clint pulled in with trucks, trailer, tractor and postdriver — all here to install endposts for the newest vinerows. Thanks guys for all your hard work! Whew! What a full driveway we had today!

April 15, 2013
Whenever my lunch and soap opera is interrupted with breaking news I hold my breath. It’s usually a gunman on a campus somewhere. Today there is news of bombs at the Boston Marathon.

April 20, 2013
Lots of rain this week, almost 4 inches, has produced the usual flow of surface water across our property between the winery and the vineyard. Rubber boots get me through the temporary creek. I’m forced to change sunscreens again due to a rash. Using one with a lower SPF, having only physical barrier properties rather than chemical action with the skin. We’ll see. Sunscreen is a matter of life and death for me. Indoors versus outdoors.

April 22, 2013
Pruning was completed in the LaCrescent vineyard today. I will reward myself with a few days of landscape tending before proceeding to other vines.

April 26, 2013
After making a list, I think I have isolated the ingredient that causes my reaction in sunscreens. I saw a statement in a magazine that said some reactions aren’t to the active sunscreen but to some other ingredient. So my list consisted of a spreadsheet 6 columns wide where each column contained the ingredients of one product — 3 products which cause reactions and 3 which still have not. By the time all the information was entered alphabetically, common elements sharing the same line, I had a list of 112 unique ingredients. And the culprit stood out clearly, being the only element in common for the 3 offending products AND absent from the 3 non-offenders. Retinyl Palmitate.

April 27, 2013
The wildflowers are thick under the sycamores. Visitor traffic increases every week as spring beckons people out to the country. I’ve enjoyed tidying up the herb garden by pulling weeds and trimming back the Rose of Sharon. Uncovered strawberries today, a little late in their opinion.

“south 1/4 mile”

May 4, 2013
We are fortunate to be situated near State Road 38 which is gaining fame for its annual Highway 38 Sale. Held in early May, this string of garage sales is mingled with food vendors and anchor stores stretching from Noblesville to New Castle. We decided to hop in for the first time, putting a sign at the highway pointing south “1/4 mile.” We drew as many neighbors as sale-shoppers. Our crab apples, lilacs and dogwoods were flowering for our guests. Some visitors were just as happy to see our porta-potty!

May 13, 2013
Relay for Life has become a tradition for the Harger and Lawrence families. The weekend at beautiful Forest Park was a chilly one but full of good food and camaraderie. The winery sponsored an auction item again, this time a Party Package which sold for a nice bid! Our event policy has been freshly posted online with the blessing of both our insurance carrier and law firm. We’re looking forward to hosting our first wedding this summer!

May 16, 2013
Surveying some frost damage from Saturday and Sunday nights with lows of 37. The frost seems to have claimed newly opened buds up through some 2″ shoots, but this is spotty. Not a big loss like last spring. Longer shoots have survived and many target buds are still tight due to delayed pruning. Further disappointments on the construction front after getting estimates for ceramic painting. Yikes! Very costly. We’ll look at some examples of previous work done by a contractor this weekend.

May 18, 2013
Celebrating the first day this season at the Noblesville Farmer’s Market! We’re back in the same booth space as last year, but we have new neighbors — and we know them! Chad works with Brian at his “real” job. The guys enjoy rolling their eyes as much as Megan and I enjoy chatting. “All Things Aly” features handcrafted hair fashions inspired by their adorable daughter. On the other side of our booth, more friends! The Isaacs family will be serving up snow cones and lemon shake-ups to generate extra cash for the college-bound boys.

May 20, 2013
“Champagne, why are you so sad?” We have a cat who has somehow broken his tail. Champagne’s normally-upright happy tail now hangs lifelessly, even brushing the floor. Called “rocking chair syndrome,” the break is actually high in his back where the tail attaches to the spine and usually occurs from the tail being caught while the cat jerks away. It can be a serious injury if the nerves for bladder and bowel function are affected. Champagne is in good hands at Noblesville Veterinary Clinic.

May 21, 2013
It is taking about 6 hours per row to “final prune” the Concords. 8 rows are done. I’m having to cut off shoots now that are already 12″ long, way too much green. These last few rows will likely not be as fruitful since the effort of bloom has been spent in the wrong place or at least ripening of any fruit will be several weeks behind the majority. Pruned 4 seedless vines near the patio at the end of session today. These seedless vines are known for persistent anthracnose so I carefully cleaned up everything afterward.

May 24, 2013
Champagne is home and isolated. A nice little poopy in the litter box this morning means he will survive! Hallelujah! Thank God! Thanks also to NVC for all your help.

May 25, 2013
At market this morning, hosted a Patio Party at 1:30, then worked a few hours in the vineyard. In other words, a perfect day!

May 29, 2013
Concord “2nd pass” pruning is done. Herbicide damage is detected in the vineyard. Concord leaves have deformities on leaves 3-6 nodes back, looks more like glyphosate than 2-4,D this time. New tips seem normal. Norton vines have brown spots throughout, maybe a reaction to a combination of what I’ve sprayed and what has drifted.

May 30, 2013
Time to sucker already in LaCrescents. A few first strawberries were picked today — just enough to eat with ice cream!

“so big it has its own moon”

May 31, 2013
Another asteroid flyby today. This one is very spherical and so big it has its own moon! A cool NASA video captures the moon orbiting.

June 4, 2013
New wires are up in the 2nd and 3rd positions for Norton and Swenson Red blocks. These vines are just now ready for something greater. I have temporarily secured them to their new heights but will be back to fine tune. Suckering in the Concords this week. Being diligent to spray fungicide this wet spring. Rainfall total is 4″ above normal since January. Strawberries are coming like crazy!

June 6, 2013
Noblesville Main Street introduces the first “Summer Produce Market” beginning tonight and continuing every Thursday evening (4-7 pm) through September. This market, different from Saturday’s market, is very food-focused with an European atmosphere. The new urban park is a closed alleyway on the south side of the courthouse square. The concept is for downtown workers to walk through and pick up fresh fixings for their evening meal. Lots of ready-to-eat food as well, and of course, wine. This venue is allowing us to offer free sampling. We have big hopes for this opportunity!

June 15, 2013
After setting up this Saturday morning, Brian handled the Noblesville Farmer’s Market alone today while I prepared for an afternoon Patio Party. This family gathering was a repeat from last year and it was good to see familiar faces coming back for more!

“the prettiest thing”

June 16, 2013
We enjoyed the evening of Father’s Day at my parents’ cattle ranch in Frankton. Their new patio provides a lovely view of the pasture and creek. With the sun low in the sky, we watched as the half-grown shiny-black calves followed their mothers one-by-one through the water and up the grassy green bank. It was just about the prettiest thing I’ve every seen.

June 19, 2013
The Prairie Star vines have been sleepers for several years, starting out a little on the small side at planting, and then held back to develop a larger trunk. But frankly, last year they were sadly neglected so I am trimming off lots of growth now to achieve two hearty canes at the lowest wire level. From here we will train these vines with vertical shoot positioning because of their upright growth nature. This Minnesota-nurtured variety makes a tight cluster of dusty white grapes. The leaves have large red veins like some wild vines and are favorites of Japanese Beetles.

June 22, 2013
We ate the last of the year’s strawberries on some ice cream after Market. Like clockwork, when the strawberries are gone, the black raspberries are here! Picked 4 quarts of BRBs already yesterday.

June 24, 2013
NASA announces discovery of Near-Earth object number 10,000. Detected on the 18th of this month, asteroid 2013 MZ5 was added to the list of NEOs accumulating since 1898. The first century of asteroid awareness only saw the list grow to 500 but these days we average 3 discoveries per day! Hmm…does that make me feel better or worse?

July 1, 2013
The bee balm is in bloom and having a particularly good year. I’m continuing to pick several quarts of black raspberries every other day. The freezer is filling up with quart bags. These berries will become part of the next batch of Brambleberry wine.

July 5, 2013
Took a trip today with Sandra, my tea room friend, to Stream Cliff Herb Farm & Winery in Commiskey, Indiana. This property is a historic civil war site where Morgan’s Raiders used the farm as a stopover on their way north. We missed the 150th anniversary of this by only a few days. We had lunch on the porch of the restaurant while a mixture of rain and sunshine tickled the surrounding gardens. The bold choice of an artichoke panini paid off. All food presentations include fresh edible flowers. With lots of buildings and gardens to walk through, we were there for hours concluding our tour at the winery. I regretfully passed on the tastings (except for a sample of their wine punch) since I was driving. Next trip, (and it’s definitely worth it) I’ll taste earlier in the visit!

July 10, 2013
Dealing with Japanese beetles this week. They are horrific in spots but not throughout the vineyard. I find it’s easier to shake them off into a bucket of pesticide than to spray everything.

July 11, 2013
Finished training Nortons up to their new wires. Sauteed some Rainbow Swiss Chard and added to fettuccini for dinner — beautiful and delicious!

“on top of the world”

July 15, 2013
The people at Oliver Winery were kind to host an I.W.V.A. meeting at Creekbend Vineyard in Bloomington. The visit started with a comprehensive tour of both established and new vines of many varieties. Their techniques include the latest in philosophy and equipment. It was a very hot day near 90 degrees, but we enjoyed a breeze through the tent on top of the world! With nothing but vines and hilltops as far as you could see, it was easy to forget we were still in Indiana.

July 20, 2013
Rain expected in this morning’s forecast but we set up anyway at the Saturday Market. Threatening skies and wind created a guessing game with the vendors. Heavy downpour came at 10:30 just after we loaded our last item into the truck. It stopped soon after but we were glad to not have everything wet. We need the rain right now and hate to wish it away. Decided to leave Market early and found only a trace of rain at home.

July 23, 2013
Finished training Swenson Red block today. I have allowed many arms to carry fruit this year so we should get a nice sample batch. Had a note on the calendar for a wedding reservation this weekend but so far none of those weddings I’ve penciled in have materialized. Visitor traffic is good with most coming in groups of 3 or 4. A large percentage are interested in seeing the vines in addition to tasting and that gladdens my heart! I often say agritourism is as much our product as the wine.

July 30, 2013
Finally trimmed back the strawberry patch. This should have happened soon after fruiting ends, but it left my mind. Might have avoided this blackspot outbreak. Did not fertilize because it’s so dry right now. Gave them a good drink at least. “Sorry guys. Hope you hang in here with me.”

August 2, 2013
Enjoyed an inaugural experience of serving “Boxed Lunches.” A very warm day but our guests stayed in the shade most of the time, enjoying the view of the vineyard. The manager at Chick-fil-A went over the top in providing the boxed lunches and ice in a timely and orderly fashion. He even gave me a free lemonade for the drive home. They really set the example for good service.

August 7, 2013
Brian and I made a quick road trip north to G.W. Kent’s warehouse in Ypsilanti, Michigan to pick up a stainless tank. We discovered a need for a smaller tank for some micro-batches. We stopped by Satek Winery just before closing time. Armed with the results of the recent Indy Wine Competition we purchased bottles of their newly-awarded gold medal wines. Congrats!

“an extreme situation”

August 12, 2013
This past Saturday I had the honor of speaking to the Madison County Master Gardeners at the Anderson Library. Not that I am any kind of expert, but the attendees were appreciative of my sharing the story of our humble vineyard. Today I’m photographing some samples of grapes and leaves I had collected to show the group and now see what looks like downy mildew forming in my sealed bags. This is a fungus that has not yet been a problem for us, although I was hearing at the IWVA meeting of others struggling this year because of the wet spring. I’m hoping the moist climate created in the bag was an extreme situation causing the symptoms. The photo shows variations in how the LaCrescent clusters have developed for this or other reasons.

August 13, 2013
Whoa, where did my grapes go? We are about two weeks from LaCrescent harvest and my nice full clusters of white grapes are empty racks in some spots and half-clusters at best. I can see evidence of the tiny white mold of downy mildew in some areas but in most cases my first symptom is grapes dropping. I really thought I was sprayed-up this year but the products I use are not the most effective available for downy mildew. A few transient bird flocks have exaggerated the loss mostly by shaking and not so much eating. Peck holes tell me the grapes are not sweet enough to their taste. This all is heartbreaking but there is absolutely nothing to be done now. The grapes still hanging on are not ripe enough to pick. I can only hope there will be something left.

August 19, 2013
Pure necessity always seems to be our motivation. We need to empty some tanks for harvest so we are bottling 2012 LaCrescent today and 2012 Concord on the 26th. We have suspended taking appointments on the weekends in preparation for harvest.

August 21, 2013
NASA announces they will return their asteroid-hunting spacecraft, WISE, to full duty after a 31-month hibernation. Originally launched in 2009, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer cataloged more than 560 million objects in space, ranging from galaxies faraway to asteroids and comets much closer to Earth. It was remotely powered down in February 2011. Today the executive of the renamed NEOWISE program comments, “It is important to accumulate as much of this type of data as possible while the WISE spacecraft remains a viable asset.”

August 23, 2013
Testing sugar and acid levels on 3 varieties today. Sugars are progressing nicely but acid remains high. By these numbers Swenson Red may become our earliest ripening variety when the vines are mature. LaCrescent sugars are always quickly up there! I was so taken by the differences in juice colors that I had to snap this photo.
Swenson Red: 19.5 BS (balling), pH 3.03, TA .97
LaCrescent: 21.5 BS, pH 2.94, TA 1.5
Concord: 13 BS, pH 2.86, TA 1.2

August 29, 2013
So foggy this morning I can’t even see the vineyard. Morning glories open around the patio despite the filtered sunshine, showing their beautiful blue faces for only a short time. It is a magical moment and gone all too soon.

August 31, 2013
I’ve been buying a variety of breads this summer since I’m hanging around the markets. Favorites so far include Cyndi’s sourdough, Symphony of Oils’ pesto bread, and Wilson’s pretzel loaf. Today I picked up a lofty soft white from the booth of Rosie’s Place that will be perfect for egg salad.

September 3, 2013
A second round of pre-harvest numbers puts Swenson Red right on target. LaCrescent acid is still high but needs to be picked because of fungus pressure. We’ll have about a 50% loss due to grapes dropping in LC block this year. Swenson Red: 22.5 BS, pH 3.18, TA .83 LaCrescent: 26 BS, pH3.08, TA 1.35

September 7, 2013
It always amazes me to see our faithful helpers turn out on harvest day. I hope they feel like this is their vineyard too, because it really is! Starting with the Swenson Red grapes, all the pioneer clusters are gathered for a nice test batch but we soon discover the dark pink berries do not respond to pressing. This variety has an adherent skin and is simply too meaty to give up its juice. We quickly recover the skins putting them back with what little juice we pressed, and prepared for a skins fermentation! The LaCrescent crop was so thin that we thought we could get them in one day. We learned it still takes the same amount of time to clip a cluster even though half of its grapes have dropped. By 5:00 we’ve asked all we can of volunteers but two rows still remain. They are the weakest rows yet, but Brian and I will make an effort tomorrow to get what we can. Thanks so much to all who struggled through the stemmy mess all day! You are awesome.

September 9, 2013
We finally add yeast to our LaCrescent juice after generating an additional 15 hard-earned gallons. There are still grapes out there but winemaking is alot about deciding where to draw the line.

September 12, 2013
Tonight the Thursday evening “Summer Produce Market” is part of downtown Noblesville’s event titled, “The Chocolate Trail.” We were asked ahead by the promoters to stay later than our usual 7 pm and serve wine by the glass until 10. We gladly accepted the opportunity and fashioned our festival permit accordingly. Prizes were awarded by drawing to those who completed the trail, visiting every participating downtown store plus the Market. It was a terrific crowd and a baptism by fire for us in serving wine by the glass.

September 14, 2013
Pickers arrive again for two consecutive weekends of grape harvesting. Some new faces but many faithful returnees! By comparison, the plump and full Concord clusters are a joy to pick and fill up the lugs quickly. Some young-blooded helpers on the crush pad keep the process moving so there is little waiting for empties. Justin takes the prize for finding the biggest cluster. After a fried chicken lunch, workers are able to get all the Concords by the mid-afternoon.

September 22, 2013
We received 3 inches of needed rain this past week. The new batches of wine were transferred off their yeast yesterday and today. Everything looks and smells good!

September 27, 2013
It was a special privilege today for our vineyard tour to be part of the Potts family’s celebration of Tabernacles. Their extended family and friends have been enjoying outdoor activities and camping together all week. The full moon was the 19th but we are stretching our festival decor through our Harvest Celebration starting tomorrow. Our “sukkah” utilizes the arbor just north of the winery doors, providing the structure to carry an airy covering of burlap and plume grass with splashes of hanging grapes and other herbals.

“full right up to the top”

September 28, 2013
Even though our harvest yields are down, we are truly thankful for what we were given. It’s really all we need. Any more and we would be scrambling for tank space. As it turns out, our tanks are all full right up to the top with one necessary empty. I love it when things work out evenly. Starting today through next Saturday, our Harvest Celebration here at the winery provides a place to get out and enjoy the fall weather and scenery. We hope the winery also provides a tangible link between people and their food, or in this case, wine. I’ve wondered recently how my relationship with food might affect my relationship with God. Am I accepting and thankful for what He has created? Can I be grateful without grumbling? Can I celebrate and feast without gluttony or drunkenness? I believe He loves to celebrate with us when we let Him.

“…And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God…the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always…and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.”
— DEUTERONOMY 14:23-26

September 30, 2013
Our two newly-bottled wines, “Sunbonnet” and “Concord Mist,” are added to the tasting line-up during our festival week. But awkwardly we can’t sell either of them since we don’t have approved labels. The federal government’s shutdown has impacted us directly in that the federal workers who might approve labels are not working at this time. I imagine their website will be quite backlogged with submissions so approvals will likely take several weeks even after the government is rebooted. Now is a good chance to say “Thanks” to Lauren for being the “Sunbonnet” label model.

October 2, 2013
Visitors during the 8-day festival enjoy wine samples along with tasty tidbits from local sources. Selections include the famous chewy “Brooks Family Granola” and Focaccia bread with “Sun-Dried Tomato Dipping Mix” from Symphony of Oils and Bakery.

October 5, 2013
We’ve enjoyed touring and talking with so many people this week, including several large groups and private parties. The Madison County Master Gardeners got a chance to taste wines from the vineyard they heard me speak about earlier this year. Several gleaners turned out to gather the late-forming fruit and a few missed clusters. The “Apple Spice” wine was sold out by mid-week. Apples were hurt badly by frost in 2012 so we did not purchase cider last fall. I hate to be out of “Apple Spice” going into the holidays but it feels good to sell through some inventory. Apple crops are great this year so we need to make a new batch soon!

October 7, 2013
Pulling weeds seems like a luxury since it happens only when the pressure of everything else dissipates. The walnut trees are heavy with nuts this year and are dropping frequently today. I wear my hat even in the shade to keep from getting hit hard in the head as I work beneath the trees.

October 11, 2013
Met today with Ashley from Monarch Beverage to discuss wholesaling our wine. This opportunity seems much more feasible than I thought. We have a request to provide wine for a wedding held at The Milltop, an urban-chic venue in downtown Noblesville. Tomorrow is the last Saturday Market of the season.

October 15, 2013
Celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary today with a nice dinner at the Olive Garden. I choose the Moscato Peach Chicken with, of course, a glass of Moscato and Brian had the Tuscany Steak and Coppola Cabernet.

October 22, 2013
We finalized our wholesale agreement on Monday, just barely in time to fulfill the pending order. We are thrilled to add this option to our marketing plan, especially with winter on our heels. Hard freeze last night with low of 28. Snowflakes today!

October 30, 2013
The Coverdale barn has come down. Erected in 1889, the pin barn just north of the river in Noblesville had been used by many of my family members through the years. Moving the structure for use as the winery was a serious consideration as we planned our construction. But ultimately, we discovered that to meet code for a public building, the reinforcements and insulation required would mask the original interior surfaces, and therefore diminish most of its charm. Wind, rain and property taxes are the biggest threats to old structures and hard decisions must be made. The good news is the barn was moved by an organization that will restore it to its glory somewhere near Fort Wayne. Yes, it’s a loss for us and for others who enjoyed seeing it as part of the county’s rural landscape. But we’re glad the 1889 barn will be cared for and live on for many years to come. We hope to visit it someday in its new home.

November 3, 2013
All the leaves are gone in the vineyard but we have peak color in the woods this weekend. Maples are bright yellow. The dogwoods have reached their deep red. Sycamore leaves of all colors sail to the ground as big as placemats — literally. I chose four to set the table for company.

November 10, 2013
Enjoyed a lovely afternoon with friends from school days. Four gals and fours hours seemed only a few minutes. A newly-labeled bottle of “Sunbonnet” will take a plane ride to New Zealand. How cool is that? I’m remembering a song from Brownies we sang in a round. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

November 13, 2013
The website was updated today with information about 2 holiday open houses. The first will be the 23rd and the next on December 21st. It will be chilly but we wanted to create specific times when people could purchase wine for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We continue to be open by appointment and people still call, especially on the nicer sunny days!

November 18, 2013
Preliminary findings show at least 26 tornadoes tore through Indiana during yesterday’s storms including an EF-3 near Lafayette. The National Weather Service says this was the third-largest tornado outbreak in Indiana history. Throughout the Midwest the storm system produced up to 60 total twisters. November is not normally known for tornado weather.

November 19, 2013
Apple-pressing season is coming to an end and we are thrilled to be buying fresh cider from Stuckey’s in Sheridan. The resulting batch of apple wine will be a 100% Hamilton County product! We hauled 3 empty barrels in our pickup truck where they made quick work of filling them. We marveled at photos of the tornado that just went through only 2 miles west of the store. The truck was riding low on our slow, sloshy ride home. Fermentation will start tomorrow.

November 23, 2013
Our “Thankful Hearts” Open House began at 4pm. It sure smelled like Thanksgiving in our tasting tent thanks to carry-out from Bob Evans featuring turkey, sage dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, pumpkin bread and biscuits. We were pleased to see many neighbors and market friends turn out to sample wine and build their confidence for holiday pairings.

November 25, 2013
Met with my friend and former media specialist of the Noblesville Library, Becky Cola, to get some help with a Facebook page. (gasp) I know! My friends complain I don’t even check my email. But I have put off the inevitable for too long. It’s time to join the 21st century.

November 27, 2013
Saw Santa today at nearby Hamilton Town Center. I had to chuckle. He was getting out of a red Prius.

November 29, 2013
The long-anticipated Comet ISON emerged from its orbit around the sun yesterday, Thanksgiving evening, about 10pm EST. Through the year as watching intensified, the comet had brightened and dimmed in unexpected ways. Observers lost sight altogether as it neared the sun and it was thought to have disintegrated. However, the comet did reappear yesterday on the other side of the sun! Through special telescopes which dodge out the sun, it was a brilliant triangular spray of light but only for a few hours and then quickly faded. It is now thought that ISON’s nucleus was disrupted by the heat, gravity and radiation of the sun, eventually reducing ISON to a cloud of dust. The brilliant comet, once hoped to be seen by the naked eye, was not to be. David Levy (of other comet fame) restated with The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “Comets are like cats; they both have tails, and they both do precisely what they want.”

November 30, 2013
Many years ago, we planted evergreen saplings in our backyard with the intention of moving them when they became more hardy. Well, time goes by. And sadly several trees became overrun by others, all planted too closely in our “nursery.” So whenever I would mow near these trees I would tell them I was sorry but that I had very special plans for them. Today we cut 4 trees off at their base, harvested as Christmas trees, and they will provide winter atmosphere at our winery entrance from now until next spring.

December 4, 2013
Having a fall flashback today at 62 degrees! It gave us one last opportunity to complete some projects still on our fall list. 1) Honeysuckle eradication: After being wooed by the attractive foliage and flowers of this species for a few years, we’ve finally had to admit that “Amur or Bush Honeysuckle” is invasive and has to go. 2) Touch up paint on Country Moon sign – just enough time to dry on this warm day. 3) Final tie-up of LaCrescent vines preparing them for windy and icy weather. Snow predicted tomorrow.

December 7, 2013
Transferred the new apple wine off its yeast today. It’s made a drastic transformation from the dense brown cider to an almost clear light yellow wine.

December 17, 2013
A beautiful full moon makes me wish our building were just as complete. Earlier this summer, we ran into a friend who works for a commercial painting company. Their company does not do the flexible ceramic coating we’re seeking but it was a chance to get a professional opinion. His comment was that galvanized steel by nature will be chalky for many years. It’s best to paint later rather than sooner. This gem of information was much appreciated but in effect ended any momentum on construction efforts for the year. I’m not sure where we’ll go from here.

December 21, 2013
Another very chilly evening was served up for our “Longest Night” Open House, but we were pleased to have several brave souls come help us eat the cheese plate, spinach dip and pecan bars. Unable once again, to implement our luminaries — this time because of rain — we will keep them stored for another year. From tonight on, the days will get longer so we can relax and embrace all the beauty that winter and the Christmas season have to offer, knowing spring is always coming.

December 30, 2013
Six important things I’ve learned this year:
1) Selling wine at wholesale is easier than we thought.
2) Toothpaste works better on a dry toothbrush (and the faucet doesn’t run the whole time.)
3) If the side seam of my pants doesn’t hang straight, my pants are too tight.
4) There is often not much lead time between an asteroid discovery and its near-miss.
5) Hashtags are a new way to be sarcastic.
6) If it has to be cold, it might as well be snowy and beautiful.

“rhythm of the universe”

December 31, 2013
For this year’s final entry in the Vineyard Journal and in honor of the “year of the comet,” I will confess to some skywatching foolishness. About when we switched back from Daylight Savings Time in early November, I became aware of a bright evening star in the southwestern sky. “Stars” shining brightly like this one are usually planets, but days and weeks passed without any noticeable change in its position. For more than two hours after every sunset, there it was. So this now demanded some research. The internet was suspiciously absent of star chatter except for YouTube…and this video touchpoint was collecting more videos every day from people asking “what is this?”

My confession lies in admitting how many hours I spent watching one amateur zoom-in after the next and reading peoples’ end-of-the-world predictions. #Nibiru. #Whatever. Finally, I turned to the Old Farmer’s Almanac website where I could enter into their chart any date and it would tell me the rising and setting time of the planet Venus (or other planets and bright stars.) This confirmed for me that I had been watching Venus whose stalled retrograde illusion peaked on November 30th, setting 172 minutes after sunset. According to the almanac, the “setting time” interval between the sun and Venus will now quickly diminish these next few days until the inner-orbiting planet disappears from sight against the sun’s light. By January 13th, Venus will pop over the SOUTHEASTERN horizon 34 minutes before sunrise, officially becoming a morning star for awhile.

The rhythm of the universe is mostly understood and predictable, especially our own solar system with its regular eclipses. But the comets and asteroids still seemingly come out of nowhere to surprise and dazzle us. I’m guessing that a persistent star growing ever brighter is exactly what an asteroid would look like in a collision course with the Earth. As silly as it can be, there is some comfort in that strange yet watchful choir of internet voices. Thankfully, the planet will survive to celebrate another New Year. Happy 2014!

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be…” — 2 PETER 3:11