Monday, June 6, 2011

Please Mr. Sunshine, come out and play!

Oh my. All these years and only now have I learned what weeds really are all about.  Bought a riding mower and have made additional arrangements after the weeds grew 2.5 feet in two weeks.  Rain, rain, and more rain.  Despite all the heavy rainfall, the vines are looking promising, with better budding than any other vines we have been seeing.  No evident damage from the November freeze.  Wish it had not hit so many so hard.  Too many dead vines with no foliage at all.

A very nice time with Steve and Kate.  Great company.  Delightful food and wine.  First time tasting Adamant wines and quite liked these...full flavors front to back with long finishes.  Must try more!  Liked the Beresan semillon, too.  Tried Stevenson Cellars and enjoyed his focus on high acids and piercing flavors.  Ran into mediocrity at several spots, but nothing offensive.

We had a few moments of nice sunshine then zoomed back to Seattle to pick up my folks and sister for Shane and Connor's graduation at UW.  Still getting used to having two graduates, both gainfully employed and on their way.  Connor has been coming out to Grape Hill with friends and "gets it".  Hoping that Shane will spend time on the farm this summer so he has some attachments set before moving to Minneapolis to start his job.  He will be missed!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shane and Connor Blends ready to bottle.

Oh my! The fruits of eight years are coming together in the glass.  I had thought that the Liliana would be the top wine from our first really complete year on five year old vines (100% cabernet from a multi-yeast small lot blended back together after fermentation).  Not so sure now. Everything is tightly-would and adolescent at best, yet the blends are pretty dazzling.  Shane is 67% cabernet and 33% syrah.  Connor is 60% syrah and 40% cabernet. All the fruit is from Little Vineyard.  After about three hours on air, each started showing beautiful elements.  Reminded me of some of the blends from Bunnell Family Vineyard in Prosser, which I had not expected.  Dense, intense wines with tons of body.  The fruit is as good as it gets.  Bottling this week! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

High Activity Ahead

May is booked, and weekends are getting booked up fairly quickly across the last week...some going out as far as November.  Sue and I nabbed Balloon Weekend, of course.  We need to sit down to figure out our own times during the summer heat, plus we are thinking to add a harvest celebration to compliment our regular May get-togethers.  Thinking about how much fun it will be to bring in grapes, crush, and then have a really fun evening meal after everybody gets silly.  Maybe we will all take turns getting cleaned up in the outdoor shower.  That sounds so banal "outdoor shower"...he, she , it, deserves a name!  Little Vineyard, Big Table, how about Wet Vistas?  Have to think about that one...afraid that it might turn up in some pretty weird places if I were to Google that one!

Getting ready for blending the '09s. The cabernets are flat out wonderful.  I don't have a full handle on the syrahs...that gamey, barnyard, bacon thing is more than I can get my mind around.  Do I celebrate it by leaving well-enough alone?  Do I tamp it down with some of the brighter flavors from the Brunello-yeasted free-run cab?  So many decisions!

 It really is a joy to look forward to serving Bogin wines during this year's Grape Hill celebrations.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wine labels, Christmas, and Rentals

The wine labels are in! Looking great, too! Thanks, Tony!  Just because we aren't making money at it doesn't mean we can't be looking professional!  It is so much nicer to open a top foil and pull a cork seeing what we are drinking.  Nothing beats that.  So far, I have just a bit of odd-lot cabernet and the Walla Walla Bing Bang in bottle.  95% of the cabernet and all of the blends will wait until next spring before bottling for drinking starting in May. We will show off these during the annual Balloon Stampede fete at Grape Hill.  I am debating about doing some fining in at least one of the cabernets...we shall see...

Christmas is upon us!  Festivities with the kids and friends for the forthcoming week and then off to Grape Hill for several days to see more friends and enjoy the scenery.  Overall, 2010 has been a better year than 2009, but looking forward to a really good year in 2011. No whining, but it doesn't take a whole bunch of positives to beat these past two.  2011 is our 25th Anniversary Year and Sue and I will be making at least one great trip plus opening our "forbidden bottles" from the cellar to celebrate the occasion.  I doubt that I ever want again to have wines that are so far out from my comfort did I ever get myself into buying those in the first place???

Rentals at Grape Hill have been happy and frequent.  What has been a surprise is how frequently we keep hearing from people wanting to take Grape Hill for a month at a time, or three months, or six months, or a year.  We are sticking to short-term rentals; it is hard enough fitting ourselves in to the schedule as it is.  No harm in anyone asking, but renting Grape Hill for months at a time would be torture to me.

It is so nice to hear such lovely comments about Walla Walla and about Grape Hill.  The kids are wanting me to build a little solar farm to take us "off the grid", while some friends want me to put in a stocked pond to add to their fun.  It is hilarious to see how imaginative others can get with my time! God bless 'em all.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

and the beat goes on...

Looking forward to Thanksgiving, although wishing we could all spend it with the family in Connecticut or at Grape Hill.  Too many obstacles this year.  Looking forward to 2011 with unbridled optimism!  Connor and Shane will be graduating from UW, Liliana will be through a tough honors pre-med year one, and I'm feeling a nice re-focus of energies coming on.  Hopefully, Sue's school will not be battered by too many more cuts or even shut down.  For me, a new leaf of sorts.  After never marketing at all, I'm looking forward to reaching out to more people so that I have greater numbers of options and can choose my projects very selectively.  And there is the summer to look forward to, six weeks visiting great pals outside Lucca, Aix, Bordeaux, and then some tourism in San Sebastian and Porto.  All the octopus I can eat and nice wines at every turn.  Hoping also to put up the arbor and maybe one more surprise for Grape Hill.  Fun!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dropping bunches...

The year that things went wrong. Tested the merlot at 22.6 brix and planning to pick merlot and cab franc (20 brix).  If they ever get the sugars up, I'll co-ferment a right bank blend.  Jack and Brian came out with me and we went through the sad task of pulling the nets, harvesting the syrah and cab (left one row of syrah).  After harvesting, we drove the fruit out to a ditch a mile away and dumped it all.  After fighting the mildew in several rows, and fighting gophers forever, plus chasing out birds, with the lousy weather the grapes were soft and lassid and just not an inspiration to make wine.  Probably will make only a couple cases this year.  The plan for next year is to have a couple paid interns get the vines into really healthy shape with very clear regular regimes and goals.  It took me a long time to even understand what needs to be tracked and needs to be done so that I can instruct others on what I want to see happen.  These vines hold the potential for true greatness and they will be respected, by God.

I brought out four chaise lounges and two small side tables that can stay outside throughout the April to October period.  These look like they were tailor-made to go onto the new patio slab we poured this summer.  It will be really nice having four rather than two so that everyone staying at Grape Hill can have a lounge. With a ton of help from Jack, we also put in a walkway to connect the new patio with the outside shower and the back door, plus we put weed-inhibiting cover down underneath and trimmed out everything with gravel.  Looks much cleaner and it makes taking outside showers more accessible.  Sometime next year I think we will start looking at retiring the Adirondack loveseats around the firepit.  These have never been comfortable.  We put a ton of work into them and spent $500 for the kits, but they just don't really cut the mustard.  One more year and then a re-think.

Good times with Jack and Brian. First time to Grape Hill for each of them. Flying directly into Walla Walla was a breeze.  Jack spent six days, Brian three.  We managed to eat at several good spots, try several wineries, shoot trap with Dave, get out to Waitsburg and jimgermanbar, drive way out into the Blues, and Brian liked doing a fair bit of gambling both at The Blue and out to Wild Horse.  Ironically, Jack and I did not know what we were doing with the table games and we won, while Brian instructed us and lost, so we bought Brian a great dinner with the winnings.

Tom is talking about spending a three day stretch at Wild Horse for some big poker tournaments in early November.  I am thinking that I might join him while spending some time with the cab franc harvest.  May see if he wants to stay at Grape Hill and help me with the last of the grapes?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2008 Cabernet

A lesson learned...must not drink any wine before it's time.  All of the '08 syrah went in five gallon buckets to places and consumers best not mentioned.  I only kept the cabernet because Bob Betz said that it was worth bottling just to see how it might eventually turn out.  I used it for topping the vinaigrier, for reduction sauces, and for occasionally drinking by myself (Sue was not a fan).  Only a half-dozen bottles survived through to now, a year later.  Opened one of these two nights ago and, shock, it was quite good.  The harsh edges had integrated, the mouth feel more weighty and pleasing, the flavor showing some follow-through.  This wine was never and will never be anything like the '09 cab "Liliana", yet I won't be so fast to berate myself next time something seems less than OK at the start.  Thank you, Bob, that not all the cab ended up in those five-gallon buckets!

I went through several carboys this past weekend, tasting the Walla Walla Bing Bang, two of the cabs, and one syrah.  One of the cabs is beautiful, the Bing Bang is just as fun as it sounds, and the syrah was coming around...not the disappointment that I felt the last time I tasted it.  Again, patience is a lesson learned.  Bing bang and a small run of cab goes into bottles in a few weeks.  Will wait until next spring to blend and bottle the others.  No idea how this year's crop will be looking at harvest...such a short growing season with so much cold and rain...this may be the year to drop the cab and syrah and make my first co-fermented merlot/cab franc dependent on how these are timing out... Maybe just two carboys of a right-bank Bordeaux this year?