Showing posts from 2013

"When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others." ~ Dalai Lama

Before we receive a barrage of emails, no, this is not our vineyard.  We cannot even get all the lights to work on our Christmas tree yearly.  One cannot even imagine how much bad language might occur attempting to light up an entire vineyard or the size of the tangled ball of lights.

Amidst all the excitement in preparing for Thanksgiving, Hanukah, and Christmas, we are taking a moment to say a big Thank You to everyone who has helped us out at the rancho this year, from neighbors and neighboring vineyards, to Custom Vineyard for their very professional crews who harvested our lavender and our olives; I would also like to thank all my friends who journeyed out for Girls' Trip 2013, only to find out they were really going to be picking figs, debudding lavender, picking table grapes, and destemming and crushing thousands of grapes and learning to make jams and jellies.  Not only did it get the job done quickly, perhaps it passed down some preserving skills to the Next Gen, so that…

Scenes from 2013-14 Olive Harvest


"The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven, I can scarcely expect bread." ~ Thomas Jefferson

So here we are, two nights before olive harvest, wondering if we will sleep for the next two nights, until we know if we have the minimum weight of olives to be able to go to the mill.  That is the first major hurdle.  Once we know that, we will know how much of our next year will fall into place.  

Without going to the mill, there is no chance for EVOO certification, no chance for competitions, no chance to go forward with marketing, because we won't have anything to sell.  Everything hinges on how many olives are on those trees.  

In the next few years, there will be a time that this will not be a worry we have.  There are 120 new olive trees being planted next spring, so then, there will be new challenges, but until that happens, and until Friday night, we will be experiencing the angst all small farmers experience, worrying about cold temperatures on their crops, worrying about yield, working hard to sanitize hundreds of bottles in a day and a half, sanitizing the fustis, the ha…

“Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”~ Louis Pasteur

The 2013 harvest is winding down.  The Cab and Petite Sirah are sitting on the gross lees for a bit, and then we're going to rack them into their barrels and begin MLF.

We're now in the midst of our assessment of what we could have done better.  Truly, we could not have asked for a better growing season.  The Growing Division of the Rancho knocked it out of the park with the grapes that were presented to the Wine Making Division.  Okay, okay, they weren't presented, they were picked -- by us -- an astounding one ton of grapes, in mind-numbing heat of over 100 degrees.  In a word, the grapes were amazing.  Yes, we would have preferred the deer not eat 15 of our Petite Sirah vines, thus compromising them enough that the grapes got sunburned; yes, we would have preferred it to be 72 on the days we picked; yes, we wish we were still 25, but we all know the saying, "If wishes were horses .  . ." 

What would we change?  We would change a problem that has plagued us f…

More Scenes from Harvest - Heritage Zinfandel and Cabernet Harvest (950 lbs. more of grapes)!


The 2013 Cabernet

Images from kick off week of harvest!


“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way.” ~ Dr. Seuss

The rancho wine grapes look the best they have ever looked and the chemical tests bear that out.  Additionally, they taste the way they should and the seeds are brown and crunchy, so are the stems. What are you waiting for, one might ask?   Ducks are being placed in their rows -- and you know how well ducks work in rows.  We believe our yields will be exceptional this year and therefore need additional bins, and will drive north to pick those up on Tuesday.  In the meantime, the vintner/chemist (and we use those terms very loosely), will run one last set of numbers to see how the harvest will be scheduled.  The balance of Tuesday will be spent cleaning and sanitizing the barrel room floors, the crusher-destemmer, the bins, all of our buckets, all of our picking tools, so we're ready to go at sunrise on Wednesday, September 4th. We don't know our sequence yet or if it will be concurrent or consecutive for the three varietals.  We are resolved, however, to wait:  Wait for the gr…

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” ~ John Steinbeck

Apologize for the hiatus!  As with everyone, some time was taken to bask in the warmth of the summer sun, roast a few marshmallows, go to the fair, watch a few sunsets, and walk barefoot through the grass (only in our minds, otherwise, the rattlesnakes could end the summer quickly).  What's been going on at the rancho, you might ask?  Lots, as always.  The table grapes ripened nicely and surprised us with much more bounty than expected!  The fig tree has produced a serious crop of figs this year.  We're currently producing fig jam, strawberry fig jam -- basically, anything one can think of utilizing figs, as well as our highly anticipated Tequila Jalepeno Grape Jelly and our Ruby Royale Grape Jelly.  Our current cocktail accompaniment is a olive/fig tampenade, with the ranch olive oil, naturally! It was been a sizzling summer here on the Central Coast, with temperatures over 110 since mid-May through the end of July.  The heat broke about the end of July for approximately 10 …

"One should eat to live, not live to eat." ~ Moliere

We've enjoyed this salad that we created often over the most recent heatwave.  It can be served as an entrée, appetizer, or as a side, but it's delicious!  Grill some bread, slathered in olive oil, with a touch of Kosher salt and some finely chopped rosemary, et voila, a meal.  Enjoy!
1/4 cup
1/4 cup
2 tsp. 2 tsp.
6 cups ½ cup 1 cup 1 pkg.
olive oil (preferably AyO’s extra-virgin)
fresh lemon juice
grated lemon peel
1/2 fennel bulb, shredded (I just use the same grater as for the lemon & save the other half of the fennel bulb for the next salad;
coarsely torn arugula 1 package of prosciutto Parmesan cheese flakes Croutons
Whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat oven to 350.Put parchment paper on cookie tray; lay prosciutto on parchment; cook for approximately 15 - 20 minutes or until crispy;
Add arugula to bowl and toss to coat. Crumble prosciutto over salad and add…

“We must become the change we want to see.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

In the old days (three or four years ago), there were down times at the ranch, such as summer and winter.  It could be said that it was because the plantings were not so mature and required far less work, which is, in part, true.  Experienced farmers, wine grape growers, and vintners probably know better.  Slowly, it is becoming evident that free time was abundant because we did not know we were supposed to be doing certain things on a regular schedule, such as spraying the vines, olives and lavender (yes, even the lavender) for disease and pests, thinning the shoots and fruit early in the season, regularly testing the grapes approaching harvest, performing regular chemical tests on our wine, adjusting the SO2 level, topping the barrels, then adding inert gas, all the while planning yeast choices for harvest, calculating harvest estimates and ordering barrels for the wine, bottles, labels, and corks for the oil and the wine.

With all those lessons learned, we are still attempting to d…

“Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror.” ~ Colin Powell

What an amazingly busy time at the rancho this week!  After enjoying a quick jaunt back to Ohio for a wonderfully happy wedding celebration and a family celebration of a graduation, it was time for the ranchers, technically farmers, to turn their attention back to all things rancho, and that careful juggling act of remembering to take care of each item, incorporating new things learned, while continuing the farming education, all the while, not dropping any balls -- or mother nature can be wickedly cruel.

The head rancher spent two weekends at Cal Poly at a vineyard management seminar, which was quite timely, because this is the year the grapes are going to be the lush envy of all Paso (in our heads).  He returned eager to employ all his new-found skills, which worked out perfectly, because in the two weekends his head was being stuffed with information, his grapevines were growing in an out-of-control manner and needed shoot thinning and leaf pulling and spraying.

While this was occur…