Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Italian vs. AZ immigration rules, Nocino, ongoing driver's license struggles, winery construction update

30 Giugno

The winery construction is coming along and the roof of the functioning part of the winery, which is the floor of the tasting and sales area is drying and they should be able to take the supports away by next week.  That will leave the lower space open for the installation of the refrigeration system and the electrical works.  So far, we are just a few days behind our tight schedule.
I have now failed the driver's license test twice, which means I had to pay again and re-apply, but I have to have some sort of license and they give me a patente rosa which is my legal paper to drive until I take the test again.  The 1st time I missed 6, this time 5 and only 4 are allowed for a passing grade.  It is a bit frustrating.  On the way home from my excursion to motorizzazione, the police pulled this blonde guy in the convertible z4 over to inspect my papers.  PROFILING!!  I am not sure how AZ will handle their new law and its enforcement, but I can tell you in Italy, you will see random stops by the polizie or the  carabinieri on many roads.  I made my annual trip to the immigration office and did the rounds to get my application for a new permit of stay completed.  I have to show earnings, a dwelling which passes inspection, a valid passport with every page photocopied,  my tax form showing I have paid into their system so I am covered by health insurance, a valid italian "SS# and then there are the little payments to cover their costs for the application.  It is a hassle, but I respect their right to control who lives here and be sure they are legal and can't see why the US states can't do the same. However,  I am not a fan of profiling, surely and hated the way the Leawood cops would pull over any black person driving through, even Lou Smith!  I hope it can be handled discretely and fairly.
We are down to our last 2 rows of vines to prune back, selecting only 1 branch when there are 2 coming from the same place and thinning out the rest, leaving only 5 or 6 per plant.  This allows the plants to concentrate their energy on fewer grape clusters and allows better passage of sunlight and air to help prevent the various fungi which plague us.  One row is taking 3 hours, so I won't be sad to finish this up;  then it is on to thinning grape clusters in the pecorino white grapes or in essence, starting over at the beginning.
I started the Nocino which is walnut liqueur on the 26th of June, so 2 days behind the normal starting day of St. John the Baptist or the 24th, but I picked on the right day.  I will leave the green walnuts, which I quartered in the pure grain alcohol for 40 days with spices and then dilute half with simple syrup and the other half with white wine, to see which I like the best.  Last year's batch was lost in an accidental container drop on day 43, but my tears helped rid the patio of the stickiness!

The last picture is Bacco with his new squeaky pig toy which was a wonderful gift from some return guests from Rome.  He is having a great time playing keep-away with his plastic maiale!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Annual Gola dell'infernaccio hike with Bacco and another mystery tree

22 Giugno
After a 13 hour work day last week, I decided to spoil myself and Bacco, who gets quite annoyed and acts out when I work too much and don't pay enough attention to him (who needs a wife).  We headed up to the trail head for Gola which is about 90 minutes from us in the Sibillini mountains, parked at the entrance and walked the 1st km on the road which gives access to the cattle ranchers who graze their animals up in the mountain valleys.  There is a veil of water which falls from the cliff to the left in the picture above to start you off on the trail.
The cool vapor and sent of greenness meets you (I smelled tomato leaves for some reason) and you hike up into the shear cliffs of the gola which have been eroded by the power of this little torrent over the millenia.
You then walk along the river enveloped in the sound of rushing mountain water, which I love on the same level as wind blowing through the pine trees in Rocky Mt. Natl. Park or in back of Nascondiglio di Bacco.  The 3 y.o. flat coat retriever never tires of submerging his black coat in the cool water and drinking his fill so he can mark the entire length of the trail as his property.
We hiked the hour and a half to the spring which in summer marks the start of the river.  We are just finishing up the snow melt here, so the springs were overshadowed by the water from higher up.  There was no one on the trail, a great place to clear your mind and enjoy the beauty of the mountains on either side, listening to the european goldfinches and european robins and european chickadees singing and once in a while the bellowing of the cattle higher up.
Now, here is the picture of the mystery tree which is full of hanging bunches of yellow flowers without any scent, but impressive nonetheless.  Kudos to whoever guesses correctly...I am just too lazy to search it out on google right now.
Finally, a couple of photos from the return trip and an update on the winery construction where just before our 1st serious rain in a month, the roof of the working part of the cantina was finished.  Now we are almost ready for those who do the inside work, such as the tubing for wine and must transfer, electricity, refrigeration, etc.  In the vineyard, we are still choosing which branches to keep and which to cut away and have just the montepulciano vines to finish, maybe another weeks worth of work.  Then, back to the beginning and we will start to cut away excess grapes, so our young vines can concentrate all their energy on just the 5 or 6 bunches we leave hanging.
The town is Montefortino as viewed from the road to Gola dell'Infernaccio.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Roof over our heads, roses, corn and tomatoes and What fruit is this?

10 giugno
I am underwater with work in the vineyard and our high season kicks in shortly at Nascondiglio di Bacco.  We are currently choosing which branches of each grapevine to keep and which to tear off for compost and have finished perhaps half of the vineyard to date.  I have been weed-eating in between the plants, row by row which is laborious, but the weeds are at least as capable as the vines at growing by leaps and bounds.
Here are the latest photos of the construction and I think by the end of the week or early next week they will have poured the cement for the roof of the cantina proper.  The rose is one of the prettiest I have grown and looks like it is made of velvet.  The tree you see with the green fruit is a mystery to me and I would appreciate any ideas as to what kind it is, perhaps some strange type of plum?  Finally, my peaches and cream corn row with my latest construction project behind to support my tomato plants should they survive.
We had a nice visit with the Butins from KC and they were nice enough to gift me some Bryant's and Gate's rubs for bbq'ing as well as much needed pure vanilla extract.  I am hopeful they had a nice Marche  experience... we were up against some tough competition with Rome and Paris on their itinerary!