April 29, 2011

Hello to all. Spring is busting out all over. The vineyard is growing by leaps and bounds. When I left for Seattle, just about 4 weeks ago, the vines were just starting to sprout. I had just finished fertilizing and weed controlling, and thought I had finished just in time – as both of those tasks need to be finished before the new shoots really get going. Well – once they started, they have really taken off!! The lack of sustained cold weather over the winter has allowed the vines to awaken about 2 weeks earlier than usual, and the pre-flower buds are out!! Each of the clusters of buds will, we hope, fully flower. The result will be a grape cluster for every cluster of flower buds. This year’s set looks really good. Here, they predict the harvest as 100 days after flowering. So if flowering occurs in the next 10 days, as the budding would suggest, then harvest could be early – like the 1st of September. Work this last week had been all about getting the new little plants put into the ground. The T-handled tool is for making the holes for the bare-root vine and for the stake. The flat end of the handle is used for making the ‘piscine’ (pool for water) around the plant to ensure as much water reaches the vine as possible. The blue netting gets wrapped around the vine and the stake to protect the new plant’s growth from baby rabbits…they LOVE new vine shoots..and we HATE rabbits!! With a crew of three guys planting, one person driving the ‘water wagon’.. and me – placing the supplies at each planting location, we were able to get about 600 of the little guys planted in 18 hours!! ALL BY HAND !!! The planting team is the same group that comes and helps harvest every year – what a hard-working gang. The tractor driver is the father of my neighbor, who I coerced into helping while he is here visiting on vacation – he seemed bored when I saw him the other evening, and so I offered him something to do…and he took it! WINE SALES are growing , albeit very slowly. Without a US distributor, it is difficult to move enough wine to stay afloat, but I keep scratching…we’ll see……………… On a personal note, two ‘happenings’; First – I finally received my ‘Carte Vitale’, which is the ID card for using the French National health system. SO now if anything happens to me, they will act first and ask for insurance second. And, Oh Yeah, I have been wrangling with the French administration FOR 2 YEARS to get this….. Second, and a little disconcerting, is that after the 5+ month wait for my renewed Carte de Sejour,I came back to town from Seattle to find, in my mailbox, a request for MORE documentation. Where had they been since December?? Where had they been since January, or February, or March when I asked and was continually told”No Problem – just a little delay”…..So now I have to scramble to pull together some of the same documents I gave them before – – so I can give them to them again!! ARGH!!!