January 30th, 2009

HI All

Another couple-three weeks have gone by. And I have some so-so news and some so-so news.

The Wine:

So, it turns out that here in the Cotes du Rhone they take their wine pretty seriously. Here, to get the head-nod to call your wine a “Cotes du Rhone” wine, every year you must submit samples to the local CDR office where they analyze AND TASTE the wine to determine whether or not it meets their standards. If they don’t think it meets their standards, then you cannot call it a ‘Cotes du Rhone’ – it is only a “Vin de Pays”. This can have significant impact on the price you can charge, as Cotes du Rhone does carry a certain cache.

Per the rules, I sent them a notification 10 days prior to bottling, so they could come sample. Well – they came early this week (2 days before bottling day) to collect the samples…and then I had to wait for the results:..tension, tension, tension……………and……today, with my consultant oenologist, we called and got the results:

The ROSE passed with flying colors (got an “A” score).

The RED , however, did not quite meet their standards and received a “B” score.

That means that I can resubmit for further analysis/testing if I choose. We knew we were close, so while not a surprise, it is a bit of a disappointment. And it isn’t a big deal to fix – it just means we have to make a couple of minor adjustments to get it right – which I will do next week – and then resubmit.

BUT – in the mean time, I missed the bottling window I had set for this week. And the next opportunity to bottle is not until March 16!!! The truck is tied-up until then. Now it looks as though I will still have wine to bring back to Seattle in April for Linda’s dinner, etc., but just barely!

The Vineyard:

Winter pruning is almost done – we should finish next week. And the pulling up of the old dead vines is on-going – I am about 25% there – have been focused on the wine and on ‘raking’ the dead wood from the pruning.

I had an ‘almost’ thing today.Was out raking the cut-off dead wood using the big red tractor with a claw attachment. An at the end of every row, you take the stuff you’ve raked and put it onto a pile for burning. Had been doiing this all morning, and the last couple of days, so I was feeling pretty conficant in my ability to cruise around on the tractor and get this done.

Well at the end of one of the rows, as I was turning to go up the little incline, the throttle stuck on me and the tractor decided to pull a ‘tractor wheelie’…not a fun thing on something that big!!! I thought for sure that it was going to go over on its back! Only by quickly hitting the clutch, did I get the front wheels back on the ground.

Unfortunately, in rearing up like that it put excessive force on the framework that supports the claw attachment, and I bent a couple of pieces……Tractor Repair!!! Fortunately I called my friend Thierry, – my all-around mechanic ( thank you Jean Marie) who came over this afternoon – scoped it out – and told me he could have it fixed by Wednesday!! So I only lose a few days…..and add several new grey hairs.

Home Front:

I heard this week (after my accountant and I visited and called them) that my Carte de Sejour (residency card) was on hold because the tax administration didn‘t think that the winery would make enough profit to support me…yup – knew that. With the help of my accountant, we submitted more info to them that showed my Boeing pension, and the winery business plan…and that seemed to suffice. However – my VISA expired this month…and I don’t yet have my Carte de Sejour, so I am only sorta street legal..need to watch my driving, etc.

I think that’s it for now. Will let you know the results of the re-submit of the red…and how we finish up with pruning.

Be good to each other.