The Dog Eared Pages

June 15th, 2012

I have a confession to make and I’m sure it’s a common affliction among some of you.  I am a magazine hoarder, I repeat, I am a full fledged 100% magazine hoarder.  Who shall join me in this self inflicted misery?

I’ve subscribed to many publications for many years, always looking forward to them arriving in the mail every month and I love them and won’t end my subscriptions anytime soon, but what happens is as you know is they stack up quickly and soon you’re left with a pile of paper to either keep or recycle, and I much prefer the latter, but my “Oh there was that great article about boxwood hedges” or “I can’t throw that issue away, that amazing kitchen is inside!” takes over my brain and the piles ensue.

piles of magazine

I decided at the beginning of the year I’d be much better, oh yes I would!  I’d cure my magazine hoarding problem once and for all!!  (insert culturally relevant female empowerment song).

I’ve always dog-eared my favorite pages in the past for reference but what to do with all those articles/spaces/nifty ideas on pages that add up and up and up to piles of magazines filled with ideas and information that I cannot part with?

the dog eared pages

Pinterest has made it easier, now I know I can usually find a space online within a month of publication but I’m forgetful and rarely look for them that way.  I’ve struggled with what to do with all these dog eared pages for years.  Throw them in a binder?  Sure, I guess, but it has always seemed too utilitarian and this is where the practical side of me loses out to the “Why can’t it just be pretty?” side of me and a battle rages within.

As I was strolling through Michaels the other day I spied some simple and affordable white canvas bound sketch books and thought, hey, those would make great “books” to help me solve my “hoarding of the dog eared pages” problem, and an idea was born.  These things always happen if you casually stroll the aisles of Michaels, but I digress.

sketch books

 

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Grafting Pinot Noir

June 14th, 2012

A fascinating thing happened in our backyard last week – at least for us.  Matt and I have a hobby vineyard on our back hill that we’ve mentioned before – those 100 vines can produce up to 25 cases of wine.  We’ve experienced two unfortunate harvest years in a row so we decided to make a change to the varietal of wine that we grow.  Here’s why.

The sugar content of grapes determine their ripeness and it is the key component that influences the future wine.  Weather is the primary factor in growing grapes, we always hope for wet winters, hot summer days with cool evenings, and a dry fall before the grapes are harvested.  For the last two years, we’ve been unable to get the Petite Syrah’s sugar levels high enough to make wine because the varietal doesn’t ripen until late October.  We’ve also been savaged by critters who raid the fruit in October as a source of food, recalled by Matt’s woeful harvest story of 2010.

After consulting with local experts and winemakers, we came to the conclusion we’d be better off if those 100 vines were Pinot Noir grapes (most commonly grown in our terroir) and not the Petite Syrah we planted twelve years ago because they ripen an entire month earlier, and are also the most commonly grown grape within 25 miles.

So what’s a winemaker to do to solve this agricultural dilemma?  It’s a process called grafting, and it’s an old technique that allows us to change the variety of the grapes without the expense of replanting, and a loss of only one year’s crop.  Grafting only costs $1 per plant (plus labor) and at such an affordable rate, it was worth the process.  It takes someone with knowledge to do it, so we hired Miguel with his 12 years of grafting experience who came highly recommended.

The first step was hard to take, he cut down all our green grapevine leaves within an hour leaving big piles of beautiful branches down the rows and across the yard, and then cut the trunks down to 3’ tall, leaving the scene feeling rather naked, for lack of a better word.

trim all vines

 

The next step was the actual grafting process which requires what’s called “scion” wood, that comes from the mother Pinot Noir canes that are collected for this purpose the season before.  We’ve been planning this transformation since our disappointing lack of a harvest last fall, so we planned ahead with a winemaker we consult with every year during the crush, and secured some healthy Pinot Noir stems which were kept in cold storage for many months in anticipation of grafting.

Scion canes are dormant branches that are kept in cold refrigeration after they’re cut in winter.  Each piece of scion wood provides several buds for grafting, here’s a look at one used by Miguel – he looks for the buds that will successfully become new branches.

pinot noir scion cane

 

All canes are kept moist in a carpenter’s box as the grafter moves from vine to vine grafting the new variety.

keep vines moist in carpenter box

 

Here is how this is done up close.  First he trims back the bark in the section where the vine will be grafted.

strip bark

 

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