Well, it’s been a year since we posted our last blog. Just because you haven’t heard from us, it doesn’t mean we weren’t busy. In fact, we were so busy, you haven’t heard from us! Sorry about that. A short run-down then of the last year:
- We grafted over Naomi’s block to a new clone called Mariafeld. 2016 was a year for that clone to grab hold and get some growth, which it has been doing incredibly well!
- Our son, Michael, graduated from school as a Physical Therapy Assistant. This wasn’t that far from his career as a hip-hop dancer and instructor, so we expect to have him keep us in shape in the years to come.
- Before his graduation, our grandson, Gabriel, spent his last week of school working on the vineyard for his externship requirement. Yeah, he really worked. He decided he preferred physics over farming.
- Sadly, Celeste’s mom, Mary Hedge, left us at the end of July. She was a strong, vital woman who loved her family and her career as a nurse almost as much as she the loved the road. She was a force of nature and is sorely missed by her family and friends.
- Celeste became a master leafer, clearing space for the crews to come through and harvest.
- We harvested in September but first, the two of us got up in the middle of the night and harvested and crushed our own little block of Chardonnay. Clay will be making his own wine from this block. We will all be beneficiaries of this endeavor!
- Our vineyard manager, Jim Pratt, hosted a harvest party in October. He personally handed a bonus check and thanked each and every employee in front of the growers for whom they work so hard. Jim is an inspiring employer as well as a terrific manager.
- …and then it rained. A lot.
- We had our biggest olive harvest so far, ending up with 3.5 gallons of some of the nicest olive oil you could want. Every year we come up with a new development to ease the process. Great Christmas gifts!
- In November, we went to New York City to participate in a Russian River Valley Winegrowers Neighborhoods Master Class, hosted by Full Circle Wine Solution, pouring wines indicative of the unique and diverse qualities of the RR wine region.
- …and then it rained some more.
- In January, Celeste participated in the Women’s March, in support of the Graton Day Labor Center, a worker-led day labor center that organizes with domestic workers and day laborers in West Sonoma County, CA for the advancement of their rights and dignity as workers, as immigrants, and as members of the broader community.
- Clay handed over the presidential responsibilities of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers to his successor, Gio Balistreri of Russian River Vineyards.
- …more rain
- In March, our granddaughter, Naomi and her friend, Isaac, opted to spend their Spring Break working at the ranch to get a feel for what winegrape farming is all about. They found out it’s mostly about a lot of work but also can be a lot of fun and very rewarding.
- …and it continued to rain
- April and the growing season begins all over again.
- Celeste hosted her first Russian River Vally Girls luncheon in June with the help of her good friends, Kathy Klopp and Anne Giere.
- These same lovely ladies are spending time volunteering at the Redwood Empire Food Bank, giving back for all the plenty we’ve received.
- A bit more rain, bloom and set.
- Jake helped Celeste run irrigation to Bailey’s spot. Creating and irrigating this area was a first for her. Seems there’s never a time when there isn’t something new to learn.
- The pears are harvested, donating 6 grocery bags to the food bank. I owe Clay a pear tart.
- We returned from vacation to find that we were at 75%+ veraison and have scheduled the bird netting installation for mid-August. We’re expecting harvest about the same time, September 10ish. We’ll see.
There now…we’re all caught up.