Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Flora and Fauna of N. di Bacco in April-Upupas, a Strillozzo and a crane?

April 20, 2010
These are the birds of the morning, the super cool looking Upupa and a sparrow-like bird called a Strillozzo..  the crane is of a mechanical nature and will help them put the big iron rods in place to make the cement walls earthquake proof.  Bacco is guarding his soccer field.
We had a whirlwind trip up to Bra, a town of 30,000 in the Barolo area of Piemonte, where in nearby Pollenzo, the university of gastronomic sciences has its HQ and undergrad school.  I was wrong in the previous post in that the masters program is getting bigger and will move to Piemonte from Emilia if all goes as planned.  There are now 3 classes made up of many americans, so you all still have a chance to spend a great year in Italy with Slow Food!  We were invited to share our story with the graduating class for career day and I wish we could hire a bunch of them as they are all qualified and enthusiastic.
We got to see our friend Stefania and met her husband Fabrizio, who treated us to pizza at Cinema' where the motto is Stop War, Eat Pizza.  It is a new restaurant started by ex students of UNISG and was very well thought out.  Stop by during "Cheese" at Bra which is the most fun cheese festival in the world and comes around every 2 years.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Apple blossom time, cement floors, Spring planting and career day at Bra

17 Aprile
The granny smith tree and the redbuds are in bloom as we suffer through another rainy period, just enough to make work in the vineyard miserable.  Yesterday, I tried stripping off the buds from the trunks of the vines, but after a row each of Merlot, Pecorino, Cabernet Franc and Incrocio Bruni, I figured I was about a week to soon as many of the buds have not yet exited enough to merit the work.  We have been passing the time instead with lawn work and new plantings, from bulbs to daisies to spruce up the place for this year's guests.
The winery construction, luckily, has not been derailed by the damp weather and the "earthquake-proof" sunken concrete shafts are all placed and the beginnings of a floor are visible.
Tomorow, we are off to Bra to talk with the students at UNISG on career day and will take them some of our olive oil (not sure I want them to suffer with our wine from stomped grapes).  I will be spending the
5 and a half hour drive thinking about what I can tell them which might be helpful.  On a sad note, we heard the master's program is coming to an end (the great year I spent in 2006-07).
The pictures are of apple & red bud blooms, the construction and Raffaele preparing his anti-mosquito zone with citronella plants.


Friday, April 09, 2010

59 pillars, newly mown grass, baby branches and chomper's bbq in Italy

9 Aprile
We celebrated the day after Easter, Pasquetta, with an outdoor bbq replete with a few snowflakes.  Now we are right back at 70 degrees, but for one day, mother nature slowed our outdoor cooking a bit.  Our friend Camillo has won the right to don my brother's bbq squad cap, Chompers for the day as you see.
We finished the tying of the 30,000 vines, but not before I returned to row no. 1 and re-tied about 1500 to bring some order and symmetry to the whole thing.  The next job is to strip the trunks of each vine of all the  new buds which want to erupt from below, but this should be an easy task in comparison.  I have now mowed the newly sown grass twice in the vineyard and it is looking pretty good.  I just hope it serves its purpose to choke out the weeds as well as it has served to prevent the tractor from slipping while ascending.
The construction crew has 3 more days to finish up the digging and pouring of the 59 pilons sunk 16 meters deep to protect us from any of the major natural disasters including "end of the world" level events.   After that, maybe we will see walls going up.
We have been truly blessed with great spring weather for working in the vineyard!  Rain is forecast for next week on Monday and Tuesday and with the tying behind us, I say, "Bring it on"!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter, 1st construction fotos, mt. flowers and bacco with make up

4 Aprile
Buona Pasqua a tutti!  Finally a day of rest.  We have finished 153/160 rows of the vineyard, tying each vine with 4-5 ties made of plastic in 2 calibers.  My hands are relishing the break as there are holes and fissures in all my fingers, it seems.  Luckily, this is a one time only job, with subsequent years we will tie up only those outliers which have broken or were too short or distorted, etc.  
The winery construction has started this week and they have placed about 30 of 59 eventual "pilons" (sp?) which are sunk 16 meters, filled with re-bar reinforced cement and which will protect us in case of nuclear war, meteor strikes, armegeddon, etc.  
I spent 3.5 hours weed eating the new vineyard where the grasses had reached waist high and the new vines were in full time shade, then took Bacco to the Sibillini mountains for a hike partway up Mt. Vettore.  When we arrived at the 1st big snow field, I crashed and let Bacco do his snow bath thing.  The flowers are starting to bloom in the lower mts, such as crocus and others.  

The photos are of a european goldfinch,  the winery construction site, Bacco with his make up, Bacco removing his make up in the snowfields of Vettore, and mt. flowers.