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Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer


What'll you do when that great plan made earlier in the year goes absolutely to pot ? Remember Jerry.......well he came back temporarily only to be "relocated" to a State facility for about 6 months. Apparently the vineyard didn't keep him busy enough to stay out of trouble.
So that completely erased my visiting the vineyard once a month to my being an A+ member of AirTrans, going back and forth to Virginia 3 times in August alone.

Oh, and lets toss insult to injury here and have August to be one of the hottest months on record with almost no rain.

Remember the ongoing project of putting the irrigation system in ? It took 3 trips down to finally get the system working for the Petit Verdot....finally. And it looks like I may have found someone to help complete the layout for the Cabernet Sauvignons during my latest absence, but even so he may only be able to get 2/3 of it done by the time I return 7 days from now. But it is progress. Maybe we'll have the system fully in by Labor Day !

The question then comes down to how many of these vines were hardy enough to survive without alot of water. I guess we''ll see if we get any new growth in the next month or so having been finally properly taken care of.

Working in Virginia, in the fields, in the summer, is an experience in itself. When you get up early in the morning, maybe around 6:30 or 7, you are as refreshed as you're going to be with hopefully a full nights rest (trust me, that's rare for me regardless). It is in the upper 60's or low 70's outside, but the official dew point is barely a few degrees below this. The grass and the weeds are soaked, and any idea of not having your feet completely water-logged within the first 15 minutes of working in the field is utter nonsense. The heat rapidly rises, and for the first half of August this means upper 80's or mid-90's by noon. The dew point does stay put, but the humidity climbs nearly as fast. Five hours into the day you are drenched.....not just the shirt but also the pants, socks, and shoes. And oh, if you keep track of this sort of thing, they have what's known as the Heat Index which basically describes how miserable you are in numerical terms. How about 126 for a number ?....doesn't it just sound bad ?

But this is what is presented to you, and if you want to be productive at all you tackle this head on, putting on the suntan lotion, drinking plenty of fluids, and push on until around noon when sanity takes over and you have to retreat into an air conditioned house. Hey, but this is only 5 hours ! Back into the fields at around 5:30 or 6 to put in another couple of hours after the sun has dropped nearer to the horizon and teases you with what you believe to be cooler conditions.

Update on the BRIX levels....
During August I had checked both the Seyval Blanc and the Nortons. The Seyvals were rapidly moving up, first to a 20 reading and then finally to a 25 reading....already time to harvest !! I conferred with my winemaker and was told that the next time I was down here in Virginia I would have to pick them. So here I was, on the 2nd trip to Virginia in the month, only to find that the birds (we suspect turkeys) were monitoring the BRIX levels also. All the Seyvals were eaten !@!@#@! Our next hope is the Nortons (picture above). As of August 16th they measured 20 on the BRIX scale so we think they will be ready by Labor Day or shortly thereafter. Not sure if the birds like red grapes quite as much as they like the white ones, but maybe we can beat them to the harvest this time and give us enough of a test quantity to make some nice table reds or some blush wine.

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