What's Happening - 2007

We spent New Year's Eve at Sandy and Rich's house in Napa as usual with our wine-drinking friends. I snapped a number of pictures that night. If you want to take a look, you can look at the Photo Albums page. If you would like me to e-mail you a copy of one or more of the pictures, just let me know which photo number(s) you'd like. The photos put on this web site are compressed. I'll send you a copy of the full size version.

We headed south to visit family again in January. While we were down in Southern California, we made our way down to Ramona, a town north-east of San Diego, to see our friends Gary and Gwen. After spending the night at their place, the four of us drove down to Baja to spend the night in Rosarito. I took our digital camera and my new tripod so I could get lots of practice as I improve my picture taking abilities. I posted a photo essay on my suebarthelow.com web site it you want to check out a few of the pictures.

I'm getting ready for the annual vineyard pruning. Bob and I burned the last of our vineyard piles in December. I now have plenty of space to pile this year's canes. I've found that I can speed up the final vine pruning by making a first pass through the vineyard at any time during the winter. During the first pass, I cut all of the canes off at the top wire and remove the cut material from the vineyard - yes, that means it goes into that new burn pile. By leaving a foot or two of each cane to be cut later, I can still protect the vine from the diseases that may enter the pruning wounds since those diseases don't travel very far very fast. Then, I wait until the sap starts running in late February or early March. That's when I return to do the final pruning.

Hotel in Rosarito     Snacking in Rosarito     View from our room in Rosarito     Vineyard Waiting for Pruning

Just as I returned to start the final pruning, the weather changed. I managed to get about 5 rows pruned when the rains returned. Luckily, the cold weather came with the rains. The cold shuts the vines down again, stopping them from waking up too early. I'm glad for that, of course. I wouldn't want them to wake with the roosters. It snowed on February 27; not rain, just snow. It started coming down during the late afternoon. I shot a couple of pictures from the deck. Then, after dark, I experimented some more. Here are three of my better shots.

The road in     Night snow scene     My snow-covered bird feeder

May is party time once more. Click here to see the invitation.

Are you ready?

If you weren't here, you missed one of the best of the Bullfrog Cellars parties and maybe the best party of the year. This year's gathering drew friends and family from as far south as San Diego, as far north as near Yakima, Washington, as far west as the Pacific coast and as far east as Sparks, Nevada.

Special thanks go to those who traveled far so they wouldn't miss our last big party - number 22. Gary Pellecchia, Dave Mabrey and Bill Pruim all traveled from way down south. From up north, Bob's Washington state cousins and their families arrived as did long-time friend Dennis Rasmussen, who came down from Rogue River, Oregon. Many fought the traffic to drive over from the San Francisco and Montery Bay Areas and down from Chico. And from the east, those sometimes crazy Nevada guys Steve Sedrel and Mike Maupin flew over the Sierras in Steve's airplane and then called a cab to bring them over from the Auburn Airport.

Special thanks also go to Randy Norris for helping with Miss Piggy and Mr. Scape (the goat) as well as to those who brought their wine and food to share.

And let's not forget all who partied with us this year!

It was one of those extended party weekends. The pre party started Saturday afternoon. Joaquin Aiello and his mother Ann arrived followed by Bob's sister Barbara and a group of her PT Cruiser car club friends from Milpitas in the Bay Area. Randy Norris, Paul Seday and Paul's friend also arrived to help build the pig BBQ pit. Everybody joined in to help with the final party preparations. Of course, the party started at noon on Sunday and ended sometime way after Bob and I were already long asleep. I don't know who cleaned up at the poker table, but I didn't hear anybody bragging on Monday. The first post party started at sun-up Monday morning as the many overnighters staggered from their tents, RVs and spots on the living room floor. We started the day with an excellent breakfast spread thanks to sister Barbara and long-time friend Joaquin. Barbara did yet another exceptional job of filling us with bacon, eggs, English muffins and fruit. Joaquin added some of his special Italian sausages. The gathering continued until mid afternoon as family and friends said their goodbyes and headed for home. The second post party began just as the last stragglers were about to leave. Good friends Tamara and Carl from Auburn came over to see how things were going. We sat around relaxing for a while and then dined on sausages and salad, which gave us an unneeded excuse to enjoy a bottle of Ophir Winery Syrah. Thanks, Paul.

Click here to see the party pictures. Although I got some should-have-been-great shots, many of them were out of focus since I was pretty tired and had trouble holding the camera steady. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the wine I was drinking. I included some of the better pictures in the on-line party album.

Was that a party or what?

Don Crawford has taken the Burning Man thing to another level. Not only is he going again this year, he's talked his 3 adult kids into going to. I don't think it was hard to interest them. AND - he's spent the last couple of months building an art car for the event. The art car is a steam engine train built on his tractor. Click on the pictures below to see a larger image of it. Fantastic!

View of train from the front       View of train from the side       View of train inside

I've been working hard in the vineyard. We have powdery mildew again this year. I think we'll loose some of the Sauvignon Blanc crop this year. The mild temperatures we had in May and early June were perfect for mildew growth. We've sprayed and sprayed to keep it under control, but it's proving to be pretty hardy.

Whatís Happening - 2006

We spent a month in Mexico this last winter. It was our first trip down there. We took 2 weeks of Spanish classes in the city of Tlaquepaque near Guadalajara. In case you care to look it up, the school we attended is the Guadalajara Language Center (www.glc.com.mx ). No, we still canít communicate well with native speakers. Weíll just have to keep learning. Since we live in the Sacramento, California area, we have lots of opportunities to watch Mexican television stations, to listen to Mexican radio stations and to find local native Spanish speakers. We traveled a bit after our classes were over. I wrote in my journal every day and ended up with over 110 pages. I guess Iíll have to write a book or something.

I downloaded a freeware photo album program Ė JAlbum Ė and used it to create a web-based photo album of our trip. I hope you enjoy it. (Mexico Trip Photos)

In January, I pruned the vineyard so it would be ready for spring. It was hot in January and then turned cold as soon as we left for Mexico. Thatís a good thing since the longer the vines stay asleep the better. It snowed twice while we were out of town and once (6 inches) last Sunday after we were back. Bobís metal pipe tarp structure used to cover the winery equipment didnít survive the storms while we were gone. Oh well, he managed to put it up again. After getting used to warm weather in Mexico, we were happy to stay in the house.At least we got home in time to see this yearís daffodils.

In January, Bob racked all of the wines in the winery. We plan to bottle the 2003 wines this summer.

Our annual Memorial Day Sunday party came and went. Once more, it was a success and fun was had by all. For those of you who attended, thanks for coming. It was good to see everybody. This year's band was a power trio that did an excellent job of entertaining the crowd.

I've finally had enough of the gophers in my vegetable garden. I'm spending many hours now digging it out and laying hardware cloth about 2 feet down and 1 foot up the sides. Oh my aching back! Since the gophers were ruining most of my crop anyway, I'm not missing much produce yet. I hope to get some things in late but still early enough so we can eat by next winter.

Spring and early summer are hard months in the vineyard. I start a spraying program for powdery mildew every year as soon as the vines break dormancy. We're trying something different this year. I sprayed once with wettable sulfur, which is used to prevent mildew, and then used a combination of Stylet Oil and Kaligreen, which is potassium carbonate and is used to kill mildew. All sprays since then have been a combination of the wettable sulfur and Kaligreen. We're hoping that we actually get a good crop this year. Only time will tell.

Bob and our friend Don Crawford added a wood side to the carport so it is now enclosed on all side except for the front. We'll finally be able to keep the sun off of and the rain out of our storage area.

San Miguel De Allende Street     Our Vineyard in March 06     Our Snowcovered Vineyard 06     Our 06 Wind Damage     Our 06 Cabernet Franc