Mid-July brought us 4 days of over 100 degree days accompanied with warmish nights (what we consider warm, 60+). Also, we had been fighting powdery mildew pretty hard with organic sprays on a daily basis. It seemed to Phillip the plants needed some relief, on the 3rd day of the heat-spike we made a tea from our plants, trees and herbs growing on the property: ground oak bark (a healer), horsetail (a fungus controller) and stinging nettle (an iron balancer). Pre-stirring we added some drops of valerian (always a soother). After stirring with the sunrise for an hour, we hand sprayed all vineyards with backpacks on foot.

The next day, we applied what we consider the second half of the tea: purchased dried dandelion, our estate chamomile and yarrow flowers, again with some drops of valerian just pre-stirring. To this we added preps of all the same flowers, literally a few grams of each. All of the flowers are considered to have healing qualities, soothing applications–we, humans, take them for the same reasons.

It was time for everything in the vineyards to take a deep breath and relax a little so that once the heat abated, the vines could continue growing and ripening the grapes.

(Picture at left: our copper stirring machine emptying the tea into the water tank from which we fill our backpacks)

July 20th we spotted veraison (the onset of ripening) on Tempranillo–remember Tempranillo resembles “early” in Spanish, and it is so true with this varietal, it is always the first to show it’s red berries. Three days later, nearly a third of the vineyard had turned–it happens that quickly!

To aid this sun-driven-grape-ripening process we stirred 501 (horn silica, a light attractor) pre-dawn for an hour: 1 gram of silica with 3 gallons of water per acre. We also applied this to the leaves of the vine with backpacks as the sun rose.

And in the winery? We racked off the 2009 reds on a descending moon–fruit day. Everything is tasting quite fantastic and vibrant, even though there is still a tiny bit of malolactic fermentation still going on. Using the natural time frame of how quickly the grapes want to work is always going to give us different schedules each year. Last year, Phillip had racked and blended the wines by May. This year it looks like a couple of weeks ago–maybe before harvest…after harvest? What will be, will be.

Stay tuned…there is a honey harvest on the horizon!