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* When pruning first year wines in the winter
after the first growing season, do not prune
them too high above the cordon wire. Some
people recommend two inches above the
cordon. Others recommend just below the
cordon. In any event, don't go above two
inches. (Alternatively, if you want to take more
time to develop a strong root system, you can
prune down to the bottom of the vine, to
establish a very strong trunk in year two --
then in year 3, prune at the cordon wire to
establish the cordons. This approach takes
longer, but will result in a strong root system.)
* As much as you would rather be tying vines
and pruning in the winter/spring, get the
gophers! (Get them early to avoid
multiplication of the problem after they breed!)
* After the first year, don't hesitate to prune
any "weak" cordons. I know, you worked hard
all summer to grow those first cordons, but if
they're weak, prune them off in the winter
before spring. You'll be amazed at the
strength of the new cordons which grow out
-- and you'll have a much stronger cordon.
* If you can cold soak must after picking and
crush, do it! A few days of soaking allows
color and "fruit" to enter into the must, without
harsh tannins. You can use containers (used
milk, orange juice cartons filled with water
then turned to ice from the freezer) to keep
the must cool. If you put in dry ice, watch out
for a bubbling volcano!
* Be wary of storing wine in new, small oak
barrels that have not been rinsed thoroughly
and broken in (the wine may become
over-oaked within two weeks!)
* Even though you over-oaked the wine, be
patient. The harsh flavor will dissipate with
time. Patience is a winemaker's virtue.
* Don't attach a sulpher stick to a rubber
bung when sulphering a barrel. When the
sulpher burns, it may melt the rubber (not a
pleasant tasting addition for a barrel).
* If you don't get all the sulpher out of the
barrel, your wine may have the nose of used
* When selecting a home-site for a vineyard,
a mountain top offers fabulous views and
excellent drainage, but flat land is easier to
walk on, develop and maintain. (Retaining
walls may be more expensive to construct
than your vineyard!)
* Don't buy a house in the country just
because your dog needs more room. If the
coyotes and the snakes don't get him, the
* Inspect the dog's toes for foxtails twice a
day, or withdraw $2,000 from the ATM to pay
for the upcoming visit to the vet.
* In the long run it's cheaper to purchase
$25/bottle wine from the local winery than to
make your own. (But not nearly as fun.)
* Don't leave your cases of wine in the
garage if the temperatures rest at 90
degrees for a month or so. The wine will
oxidize, turn brownish and change taste.
Said one taster: "Hmm, reminds me of
'medicino'." A polite way to say the Syrah had
turned to medicine!
* Just because a self-proclaimed wine judge
doesn't ooh and aah over the best bottle of
wine you ever made doesn't mean it's not an
*Seen on a T-Shirt: "I spent most of my
money on wine and women. The rest of it I
*Things that go bump in the dark: Watch out
for scorpions when getting a glass of water
in the middle of the night.
* Watch out for black widows when pulling
the cover off of your wine containers.
* A glass of white wine isn't so bad if you've
only been quaffing red for the last year.
* The rabbits will eat the buds and first
leaves from your newly planted roots -- put
the plastic covers on, fool!
(To be continued.)
Stay out of the water.
Hit the ball straight.