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Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Forever Young" - Building the Winery: Part 10

The last four days have been horribly hot. The days may start out a comfortable 72 degrees, but by mid-morning the humidity starts to take its toll as the thermometer climbs up into the 90's. Any one who works outside needs to do their duty before noon, or the hot climate will start to eat away at you and whatever energy you think you have in reserve.

My day has been starting right around 5 a.m. I know because that is when our rooster decides it will let the world know it is alive and well. Being a light sleeper, I hear this blasted animal regardless of how tired I am or if my head is buried beneath a pillow. But I know I can't see anything outside yet, so the gradual attempt at waking up is the norm. Cereal. Juice. A stiff cup of coffee (or 2). I throw my clothes on, knowing they will be drenched by the humidity, my perspiration, and kneeling down in the grasses still wet from the morning dew.

My body is in automatic now. I have pre-cut the trellis ties I use, placing them in my work apron along with my pruning shears. My short walk takes me from the front of the house to row 44. I have been pruning these Scuppernongs now for near half a month, and in the last couple of days I have been knocking out 2 rows a day (i.e. 5 to 6 hours) because I can sense getting to the end after 21 rows and because Rich has shamed me into completing the job while he is working the other field.

Scuppernongs are a maze of nature. A cultivar of muscadine, left alone they will grow in a zillion directions. Though they had been pruned once early in the season, they now are in a state of complete mayhem. The good news is that they probably have a full 2 month's of growth left before we harvest them, so the pruning will help in their development and even more growth. For those unfamiliar with Scuppernongs, they are a native variety of grape, growing from northern Florida up the east coast to parts of Virginia. They do not have the "normal" bunches you envision grapes to have......they are in small clusters of 5 or 6 or 7. The grapes are the size of golf balls, with a thick outer skin and a very sweet flesh. When you start pruning they are a glob of green leaves, but when the pruning is complete, a structure is made which resembles a grape hedge, with shoots going vertical both upwards and downwards. They grow so well here that I allow 12' of expansion in each direction of the trellis.

This one vine took nearly a half hour to shape.

As I am pruning this vine, in the background Rod Stewart is singing "Forever Young". If you know those 2 words, you have mastered 80% of the song. The masonry crew is on site, recognizing the heat index could only slow them down. The head mason is an older guy, and on the weekend he has the radio blasting from his truck. It is a compilation of 70's and 80's music. Clapton. Steeley Dan. Fleetwood Mac. No hip hop and surprisingly no country. But today it seemed like an endless loop of "Forever Young". It makes you crazy. You are doing basically the same thing over and over and this song gets stuck in your head, long after the radio station has moved to the next jingle. It's over and over again. Please give me a new tune to replace this one ! Another one never comes and the only way I can escape it is complete my rows for the day and go inside where it is much much cooler.

The brick layers did a splendid job in their 4 days on the job. They layered concrete blocks 3 high all around the foundation, attached with mortar on top of the "mud" layer from the prior day's pouring.

The view here is looking east. The vineyard is on the left, while our house is located just beyond the trees in the upper right. The rectangle in the lower right is for our Function Room with a fireplace, while the bigger rectangle will house the main part of the building, including the tasting room and bottle-barrel room. 


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