Hurricane Irony

What goes “I don’t know what you are talking about mother, I see absolutely no evidence of hurricane Bertha here” and then spends all week picking up entire rows of vines that have been knocked over by the aforementioned storm? Well, er, me. (This also partially explains the unacceptably large gap between this and the last missive from the viticultural front line). And it was all going so well until the elements turned up and started making work for us. The weather was mostly good – well good enough, we’d like it a little hotter, but one takes what one can get when the children are summer holidaying – the weeds and the grass had started to relax after their excesses in June and July and the vines were just about ready to stop growing and start getting down to the important task of ripening their delicious grapey offspring.

Being sort of reverse omnipotent, I hold myself entirely responsible for this turn of events. Had the conversation with mother gone something along the lines of “I’m really worried about this storm, I doubt that anything will be upright when it passes”, it would doubtless have passed with nary a snapped post. We have had some pretty lively stuff pass through before – notably in the “Barbecue summer” of 2009 (ho ho ho) and the equally appalling summer of 2012 – but our not at all excellent wooden posts were not in their current parlous state then.

At this point you will doubtless be thinking “Aren’t you quite a new vineyard, did you buy second hand posts, you irrepressible cheapskate?”. Sadly this isn’t the case, and what’s more, I detect the distinct whiff of a marketing racket. When we were looking to source our posts, we had the choice of using wood or metal. I had seen little metal posts (3′ high or so) in Burgundy before and thought that they weren’t particularly aesthetically pleasing, and just before we ordered had a look at some 6′ metal posts that are used for English style trellising (which is borrowed from New Zealand). While I’m sure that they are just the trick for some folks – folks who want trellising that doesn’t immediately fall to pieces – I personally think that they have an air of Soviet style architecture about them and didn’t want to spend the next, er, as long as it takes Lucy to see sense and kick me out, looking at them. So it had to be wood.

The chap that we bought the land from has been farming for longer than I have been alive, so we went to canvass his opinion and he immediately started darkly muttering about how posts are now entirely rubbish and that they were much better when television was in black in white. I asked around and discovered that this is because that blue stuff that they treat them with isn’t full of arsenic and other equally appalling goodies any more. But how bad could they be? Answer: very, very bad. By the time that I had finished clobbering the last ones into the ground, the first ones had already assumed a sinister grey colour after spending just a few months in the rain. I still needed to buy some (slightly thicker) end posts, so went and bought them somewhere else, same result. You might recall that we came up with the brilliant scheme of painting the bottom of the replacement posts, the jury is still out on that solution, but I’m not holding my breath.

But what’s this? New and incredible posts that are guaranteed to last for 15 years and only cost twice the price of the other snappy ones! A less cynical man wouldn’t suggest that whoever makes that blue gloop that they treat wood with has been deliberately producing ineffective gloop so that they can manufacture a market for their premier league gloop. If you think this is unlikely, I politely draw your attention to everything that you have ever owned that mysteriously stopped working the very moment that the warranty ran out.

Okay, less whine, more wine. At the end of last week’s drama, we cracked open a bottle of rosé last weekend and were absolutely delighted with the result. I’ll confess that we, okay I, couldn’t resist having a go at it much too early and found it a little flat, but in common with every other bottle of wine that we have ever made, leaving it for the appropriate period of time seems to have done the trick. It’s now back to its glorious strawberries and cream best. We’ll be arranging some labels in the next week or so and we will be able to finally get the world’s most hard won bottle of wine (see previous entries for ad nauseam generator woe) onto the market. You’ve been warned.

I’m currently writing this wearing a dressing gown under the watchful eye of a pair of soaking wet trousers, but it hasn’t rained at all today. This can only mean one thing: we have mechanised the water supply and now have proper water pressure and a limitless supply of water like normal people. Unfortunately the limitless supply of water has a couple of small leaks, so I’ll tell you all about that when I have attended to the leaks and have developed a sense of humour about it, let’s say about this time next week?

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