Friday, May 20, 2016

Cool climate and clay soil = Chablis?



The truth, I have learned, is that cool/cold areas are best suited for white wine production for a variety of reasons. Whites generally ripen earlier, and they are more forgiving, flexible and adaptable. It is easier to make a good wine from a wider range of maturity than reds. So cool regions that have shorter seasons may still produce acceptable and even excellent white wines. That is not so true of red wines.  Red grapes need a long season of hot weather to mature to just the right sweetness.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Leaves unfurled

Now we know. Our new grape vines survived the winter.

We've had the most unusual weather. More than a week of warm sunshine and absolutely no rain. We have not watered in the vineyard or orchard, only the vegetables, flower garden, and greenhouse.

We launched our boat on the high spring tide in Killybegs on Saturday the 7th of May and delivered her from Donegal to Mayo arriving home Tuesday the 10th. We had no rain and little wind en route and it has not rained since. That's a long time without rain and wind in Ireland. How will the vines react to dry stress?  How will they react to a mild winter and frost only for a few weeks in April. Whatever wind we've had has been easterly and northerly again this whole week.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Where have the bees gone?

It appears that our bees have died. There is collapse of hives being reported all over Ireland this winter. The beekeepers remove the box and find dead bees clustered and the honey untouched. They are thinking that it was the wet summer and cool wet winter that caused disease to kill them off. Up to 50% loss and more being reported. Tragic!

But that spells disaster for our orchard and vineyard.  There are plenty of bumblebees. I saw one wasp and quite a few flies, but the fruit trees are laden with flowers that, for the first time since planting, have not been blown off by hurricane force winds. So I went out with an artist's brush this afternoon and pretended to be a bee.

I had seen an article about the Chinese pollinating their crops by hand because of the collapse of their bees and other insects. So I decided to try the same. I don't know if what I am doing will have any effect but I have to try.

 Meanwhile the grapes have not yet unfurled their leaves as it has been cold. But signs of life continue and hope remains eternal. We'll see what this foray into food production will yield this year.

We had one good year with a bumper crop of apples (2014). One bad year with nothing of note, no apples, one mini-pear, and a few cherries eaten by the birds just as they ripened. Growing food is not easy. I wouldn't want to have to depend on it.