2017 Goals ~ Let’s go with Healthy, Wealthy and Wise… and a couple donkeys

I absolutely adore that the advent of the New Year gives one a sense of renewal, a chance to reflect and consequently focus on ones short and long term goals.  We have lots of changes planned for 2017 and, I must say, yes, I must, that we are very, very excited (and a teeny bit scared).  We will be putting all our eggs into our  entrepreneurial basket and focusing our time specifically ~ Pumpjack’s to our new wine business Terroir au Verre and me, Piddlewick, to my Pumpjack & Piddlewick  Shop and the life that goes on behind it, so our blog will get a bit of a face lift too this year.

Welcome 2017! It’s make or break time.
(Hmmm, maybe not a good euphemism when talking about entrepreneurial eggs.) Continue reading

Harvest Widow – the other, though arguably not better, half of wine making

There’s a term in the the wine industry, a ‘Harvest Widow’. I’m a Harvest Widow. In fact this is my 6th time being a widow. No, I haven’t butchered 6 husbands and hidden them under the vines, though harvest time may give one ideas. Harvest season is the best of times and the worst of times, as it brings in the bounty (hopefully) but also means long, long, long hours, getting up before dawn, coming home well after dark, often working through the night. And as a Harvest Widow, I keep the home fires burning, food ready and on the table and to bring to work the next day, the animals fed, watered and walked, and I do lots and lots and lots of laundry. Continue reading

Romancing the grapes – posh plants or down and dirty agriculture?

I don’t know about you, but I never really thought about wine grapes and their vines as part of agriculture. In fact it sounds almost like a dirty word, when associated with wine. To me they weren’t a crop, like wheat, they were too posh for that. They were more like a seasonal delicacy, like asparagus or artichokes, something I enjoyed, but didn’t really pay attention to how it was grown. I just liked the taste.

I have always liked wine, well maybe not so much when I was younger, but as I grow older I appreciate it more and more. The taste of course, but also the variations, the vagaries and sometimes the sheer fun. Of course, living with a wine maker has given me a whole new perception. He has added to my level of knowledge immensely. And, I am still trying to decide if that is a good thing. Continue reading

Frost by Nature – Bud Burst Busted

In the past, I personally wouldn’t care that spring has been tentative in coming. It might not have even registered in all honesty other than to complain it was a bit chilly. But now that we manage vineyards and are looking to buy grape juice this next harvest, what happens now affects our future. So, I am noticing. Continue reading

Downsizing, Giving it all up, Changing your Life… Is it very hard to do?

I’ve ‘given it all up’ in my life, not once, but twice.  By choice. The first time I gave up everything was to travel the world by bicycle.  When I met people they would inevitably ask, “What’s the hardest thing you have had to do?” The answer was always ~ to go.

This answer remains fundamental, whether changing your life style, downsizing or, as in our case, Following our Dream. Giving up the life you know, the life you are comfortable with, is the hardest step to pursuing change. Continue reading

Naming a Wine and Designing a Label is harder than you think!

You watch the vines come to life in the spring and then slowly the leaves start to unfurl and tiny grapes begin to make themselves shown.  You harvest, you press and ultimately you make wine. Then you watch, wait, test, test again, keep testing, adjust, taste, adjust, put in a barrel and finally!… bottle.

Through this all it never really occurs to you what it will be called. Continue reading

Our First Harvest (2015) – a limited edition success

Our first harvest is in, has been made into wine and is now, as of today, in barrel!!! I for one am really proud, and particularly of Pumpjack for all the hard work he did, through out the year, to make the vineyard produce something we could actually harvest.  Twelve hour days, 7 days a week, along with a bit of blood, huge amounts of sweat, and not a few (of my own) tears may not be everyone’s glass of wine, but at least we can call the wine ours. Continue reading

Getting ready for the grape harvest – Time to Test

The time is coming close now, when we will be harvesting our grapes and making wine. But how do you know when to harvest?  There are various tests, but on my simplistic level, I will be testing the level of sugars. This gives an indication of probable alcohol level, and depending on the results, plotted over time, you can estimate when to harvest.

Of course that does not take into account weather. Warm weather can speed up the ripening process, so your sugars increase quicker. And of course vice versa if it is cooler.  Then there are the grape predators – birds, wasps and a variety of other insects,… and ducks. We certainly have our share of those and so I have been hard at work putting up scare-cd’s to try and keep the birds at bay. But there is little I can do about the insects. (Even our duck, Maggie, keeps trying to steal the odd grape or three whenever an opportunity presents itself.)

Continue reading

Winemakers – at one with nature

I will never claim to be an expert on wine making. Because of this, I focus my wine making posts from the outsiders perspective, e.g. we who like to drink the stuff. What I do want to show is that the wine world is not all posh and highbrow, and that there are a few of us ordinary folk out there, following our dreams, and making our own wines. Prime example, our friend Antonio, who is making wine in Priorat Spain as I type. Now, if you want the more ‘expert’ view of wine making, check out his blog…

The Cunning Anchovy

Hello all,

The grapes have all been picked and are now sitting in a tank. Before I tell you what has happened to the grapes, I just want to make sure that you are all aware of what I have gone through to get these grapes.

The slopes in the vineyard are very steep with loose rock which has meant back- breaking work, not to mention long. But that was to be expected at this site.

What I didn’t expect was that, after only about half an hour of picking, I stepped on a wasps nest on the ground (actually two wasps nests working as a team). A busy few minutes ensued involving running, screaming (bravely) and frantic flailing.

Over thirty stings later (this is not an exaggeration), I now had a very fat left hand and a healthy fear of vineyards. So, after that, I picked a tonne of grapes…

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