The Last Year
As you may have noticed, we've been a little MIA over the last year. Here's what you've missed:
We planted 15-20 fruit trees along the back of our property.
We took out 300-400 dead vines and planted new ones (they take about 3 years to produce).
We officially became growers for Mondavi's Constellation Brands.
We attended Woodbridge Winery's "Blessing of the Grapes." Mrs. Mondavi gave a brief address and a local priest gave the blessing while 100 or so growers and winery workers looked on. It was a surprisingly moving experience.
We built a barn.
JP made a really amazing garden that we pretty much forgot about all summer. We had some killer cabbage, tons of squash, tomatoes, and peppers and we didn't eat most of it because we are never home. Story of our life.
We had to put our cat down. It was really sad.
We had a major mice problem. (We killed 16 in the house over the course of the summer. This was almost as sad as losing the cat.)
We got two feral kittens who we "acclimated" to our family inside the house for about 6 weeks and then transitioned into outside cats. (They're still not totally happy about this.)
There was a drought in California. The main impact of the drought was that everything happened earlier. We pruned earlier and we picked earlier.
We found out that our grapes would be sent to Ravenswood in Napa. That means in about 18 months you can drink a glass of Ravenswood petite sirah and say, "I know where these grapes came from..." with some authority.
Due to a capacity issue at the winery, our grapes were picked about 10 days later than they should have been. This was super stressful because we watched our awesome crop get sweeter and sweeter (which also means lighter and lighter) and start turning into raisins.
We decided to try harvesting by machine. It was a significant cost savings and a very different experience because they started at dusk and worked until the early morning hours. There are pros and cons to this method of harvesting and we're not sure we're going to do it again next year.
And...drumroll please...the 2014 crop was... 17.4 tons. Kind of a disappointment. We were expecting twice that amount this year, but hey, that's farming! (Reference Point: Year 1 = 8 tons, Year 2 = 2 tons, Year 3 = 28 tons).
What does 17 tons mean financially? It means that we can cover our expenses, but not much else this year. (Aaannnnddd, that's why we have day jobs.)
We celebrate everything, even lackluster harvests, so we went to Chilis (because that's all we can afford...but it beats being on a Taco Bell budget, right?), went big and ordered dessert.
The vines get a bit of a reprieve until January when we prune and the process starts all over again. Here's to a wet winter!
JP and I are launching a new online business! Something we are very excited about. We hope you'll like it and want to help us get started! We hope to tell you more about it by the end of this week when our site goes live. We can't wait to see where it leads us.