Raven's Call

Raven's Call
Haida Raven

Monday, November 2, 2009

Grapes all harvested, vineyard all pruned

It's been pretty frosty here overnight for the last couple days. I've been watching my pitiful Pinot blanc crop, and finally picked the surviving cluster.

Pinot blanc
This clump tested out at only 16 Brix - meaning there was very little sugar development in the last few weeks. I guess when the temperature is rarely above 50 degrees F there isn't much more development. Time to pick in mid-October - next year.

All of the vines have been now pruned. I forget the name of the method I'm using. It trains two lateral cordons off the upright stem at about 30 inches. A second high wire at about 5 feet will accept the upright growth next year from spurs on the cordons.

Overview of the Madeleine Angevine and Regents

Showing the training style.
About all that is left now for harvest are the kiwis. All in all a good year on the farm.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall harvest at Woodland Creek / Raven's Call

Time to recap some of our fall harvest and button things up for the winter.
The Regent grapes were harvested on 09-Oct-09. I had about 15 lbs from the 32 plants in the vineyard. Brix tested at 19 - not bad for Puget Sound AVA. I still chaptalized the must to 25 Brix - went a bit overboard.

Regent Grapes

Birds were starting to feast on them.

The 2009 Regent harvest
The same day the Syrah from the prior week was ready to press. Some additional modifications to the home-built press now have it working quite well. Time to rebuild it in oak.

Pressing the Yakima Valley Syrah

The 100 lbs of Syrah yielded about 7 gallons of wine into the secondary fermenters.

The Yakima Viognier has been racked to a secondary fermenter (6 gallons), and the Madeleine Angevine as well (3 gallons). I currently have 6 varieties under airlock right now.

As for other crops - our two chestnut trees both produced well this year. The trees are each about 12 years old now - having been planted before we built our house here. One is a seedling from nuts from the tree in the backyard of our prior residence, the other is a seedling from a heritage tree - the "Carson Chestnut" located in the interchange at Highway 167 and Meridian just north of the Puyallup River bridge north of Puyallup. Quite a magnificent tree.

At any rate, this year I detected clear difference in the bur sizes, nut sizes, and ripening time between the two trees. I did some on-line research and decided that the earlier one, with larger nuts, from the Carson Chestnut, must be a Spanish chestnut, Castanea sativa. (I just did a google search and this site http://www.halcyon.com/tmend/heritageplants.htm asserts that the Carson Chestnut, planted before 1861, is C. sativa). The other tree has to be Chinese Chestnut, C. mollisima. I also have a couple American chestnuts C. dentata, one of which finally produced nuts inside the usually empty burs. Boy, are those nuts tiny. Here is the entire crop.

The darker ones (darker only because they ripened sooner) in the back on on the left are Spanish chestnuts. The lighter tray in the front right are the Chinese. And the few tiny ones on the bowl are the American. Despite their tiny size, the American chestnuts are by far the tastiest. We probably had 35 to 40 pounds of chestnuts - time to find some recipes.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Harvest Time at Raven's Call Vineyard

Wow - hard to believe so much time has gone by since last posting. But today's work was a good trigger for a new post. We decided, given the weather forecast (cold and rainy for the next 4 or 5 days) that we had better go ahead and pick the Madeleine Angevine grapes. They have been looking good and individual grapes measuring in the 16 to 19 Brix (% sugar - target would be 22 to 25, but hard to do in Puget Sound).

Row of Madeleine Angevine Mid-Sep-09.
Two year vines.

Row of Regent - two year plants in foreground. Mad Ang in background.
Regent grapes.
It is very hard for me to estimate grape crop yields (yet, as this is only the second year on the plants!). We bought 100 pounds of Viognier (white) and Syrah (red) yesterday from a fellow who brought over 5,000 pounds from Yakima. We processed those on Saturday.
35 pounds of Viognier grapes

Viognier grape cluster with vintage crusher in background.

Syrah grapes from Yakima
At any rate, while my home-built press did a fair job of pressing the white grapes, in the end Michelle extracted quite a bit more juice from the pressings by using her Roma extractor.

Pressing Viognier
Final extraction from Viognier using Roma extractor. In the end we produced about 8 gallons of juice from the Viognier. The Syrah, a red, is of course not pressed yet but is fermented on the skins. The must for the Syrah is about 12 gallons in the primary fermenter.

But back to the local harvest. I decided to pick the Mad Ang, since everything related to the crush, including the garage floor, was covered in a sticky film from the Saturday crush. Here is our first significant harvest at Raven's Call.
First harvest at Raven's Call - Madeleine Angevine - 27-Sep-09

Decent cluster of Mad Ang.

Total 2009 Mad Ang harvest. 37 pounds of grapes.
Hard to tell, but there is about 12 inches of grapes in the tub.
In the end we had about 3 gallons of pressed Mad Ang juice. All three musts are fermenting merrily now!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Raven's Call Vineyard Update

Yes, I re-named the vineyard this winter. It is now "Raven's Call". I expended a fair bit of effort this past winter digging up every other row of grapes I planted last summer, as I determined that the 3-foot spacing between rows was not going to be practical. Not enough room between to maintain.

This required extending rows, and adding more rows, which required clearing space already planted to small trees. Then I built trellis's using my own hand-split cedar posts. The style I'm going to try trains two permanent cordons from each plant onto a main wire at about 30 inches, and each year's new growth will then reach for (hopefully) the upper wire at about 60 inches. Here are the results as of early July.

The Madeleine Angevine grapes are doing the best by far. About 80% have grapes - about 3 to 5 clusters per plant.

The berries seem a bit small to me, given the good block of warm weather we've had, but I may be way off.

But the Regent are not too far behind, as far as foliage. But only about 20% of them have fruit.

The Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir are way behind, but at least they are looking much better than last year. They didn't even warrant building the first 30-inch trellis wire yet.

I purchased cuttings of three more varieties this spring: Muller-Thurgau, Siegerrebe, and Pinot Gris. I had about 90% success on 35 cuttings each so have about 30 each, so another 100 or so plants to plant out. But first I have to clear out more space for them... it's always something.