Friday, May 21, 2010

Paso Robles Wine Festival and Cerro Prieto

We look forward to meeting many new friends this weekend, and revisiting with old ones. We will not be pouring at the downtown Wine Fest, however, but will be here at the vineyard doing eco tours, taking photographic tours, enjoying the beauty of spring, and doing wine/cheese pairings. What a difference a year makes. One year ago when we poured at the Wine Fest, the temperature under our awning in the park reached 119 degrees. That spoiled 10 cases of our wines which even with huge ice chests and ice, we could not keep ahead of the phenomenal heat. Turned out the rubberized awnings actually acted as heat absorbers, and made the temps 4-5 degrees hotter.
Looking out the windows early this morning, I was treated to a spectacular sunrise, with hillsides of vines as far as the eye could see. The early morning light highlighted the newly mown rows of hay in fields far below and several miles away. The geometry of these mowed fields is in itself a thing of beauty. Looking at the sun glistening off leaves of our fully leafed out vineyard it was hard to imagine a place, or sight more lovely. Lupine are still in bloom, poppies are showing off their yellow and orange everywhere, and all remaining wildflowers are giving it their last gasp prior to storing energy for next year. Sometimes nature has to be allowed to take precedence over our vines. So it is in our top bloc of Syrah, where a lupine bush has taken up residence between two vines. The blue purple color is dazzling, but the size of the bush is no less remarkable. Yesterday it measured some 12 feet in diameter, competing with not 2 but 3 vines for food, water, and sunshine. When you see something like that, it is very easy to let it grow, even though it is compromising several vines' growth. It is unique and you should see it. We do have one other lupine bush, but it is growing on an otherwise barren hillside.

Whereas we will miss not pouring in the park tomorrow, we will be looking forward to seeing many of our friends here at the vineyard. The vineyard at present is about as beautiful as it can get in the spring, and we already have two photographers out and about taking rolls of film. For those interested we have multiple stages of vine growth on display, with potted dormant Sauv Blanc just peeking thru the 6" of dirt piled on top of it. We have half an acre of Pinot just secured to wire yesterday, plus all other vines are fully leafed out. The rain was a Godsend this year, when we got as much as we received the last 3 years combined. Wild turkeys are in abundance(altho you have to be up at first light to see them), some red foxes have actually been hunting gophers in our yard, not 30 feet from our house, coyotes are ever present, and then there are the birds.
Last nite we watched a Stellar bluejay's nest fall from under a beam of our house. It had initially been a finch's nest, which the jays destroyed, including the eggs. Then the jays wove a nest made completely of tiny 3" twigs, right where the finches had been. A pair of perigrine falcons then did the job on the jay's nest and eggs. Survival of the fittest...

Immediately below the house we have a pair of "sopolotes", or turkey vultures sitting on a nest(it is half of an abandoned wood rat nest), and during daytime, the sopolotes take turns flying directly between the trees and within 15 feet of our back deck. This pair was born here some 10 years ago, just below our home, and they have adopted us. Normally one cannot get within 50 yards of turkey vultures, but these guys know that we leave dead gophers and coyotes out in the fields below, for them to feast upon. Watching all this "nature" is doubly enjoyable while sipping our wines which are paired up with Stilton, dry Monterey jack, and French cheddar cheeses. If after visiting the wine fest (or before) you wish to come join us, we would be delighted to share any and all the above with you. Cerro Prieto is truly beautiful, and at certain times is much moreso than others. This is one of those times.

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