During the process of purchasing the vineyard many people asked, “You’re buying a vineyard in Colorado?  How do the vines survive the harsh winter?”  My response never waned, “The Grand Valley is the banana belt of Colorado, man.  It almost never snows and the temperature rarely dips below zero.  You don’t even need a snow shovel, just a broom.”  Anyone close to the valley knows that certainly wasn’t the case last winter, as the fruit crop was decimated in many areas due to severely bitter temps in December and a late frost in spring.  Just an anomaly, right?

The early winter 2010-2011 has been mild and slow-footed.  It’s been a gradual descent, which gave the vines time to “dry out” and begin vegetative hibernation.  But you knew it was coming, right?  This new foray into the agriculture and farming lifestyle couldn’t let us get by one season without at least a little trepidation.  Heredity and genetics have bequeathed the light of worry into my being, so I’ve found the right business I guess.

The forecast on NYE was not advantageous.  It would certainly plunge below zero, how far we could only speculate.  The weather system crept across California dumping rain in the basins and snow in the Sierras, and we knew it was heading this way.  The stratospheric low-pressure system arrived, spreading her frigid inversion across the valley.  The outdoor thermometers at MPV aren’t extremely precise, but the coldest I saw was 5 below around 1:00 AM.  Granted, that was near the house and above the lowest section of the estate, where the coldest certainly settled.  It was so cold the dogs wouldn’t go outside without coaxing!

On Sunday I worked in the winery for most of the day.  I did the year-end inventory and trucked the 4 barrels of 2010 Petit Verdot and 5 barrels of 2010 Cab Sauv from the winery; they were completing malolactic fermentation in the slightly warmer temperature, to the cellar for long-term aging.  Such relaxing and fulfilling work, my universe becomes peaceful and serene.  Ushered along by the tomes and ballads of Jerry and the Dead (a live set from Winterland 1972 I believe), which were pulsating from the speakers, I couldn’t stop working.  Before I knew it I had swept and mopped the floor, rearranged the labeling station for the coming weekend and brushed the snow off the tractor and quad runner.  As my last act of the day, I decided on taking a few vineyard samples for testing.  Seeing as I was in the winery, my initial cutting was the first vine on Cab Sauv row 27.  Next I went halfway up row 22 and for the last cutting I ducked under the fruiting wire row after row (instead of walking to the end row and back down the sought row), until reaching the middle of the Cab Franc.  I took them in the house and began dinner.  After allowing 2 hours to warm (I’ve since learned from our neighbor to let them warm for 24 hours), I used a razor blade to slice horizontally through the bud.  I was relieved to see green.  This weekend I’ll take samples from the lower Cab Sauv and Merlot.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.

This should be a relaxed weekend around MPV.  Tomorrow, Greg and I have two helpers coming over to assist labeling the pallet of Cab Franc we started in October.  I’ve chipped at it, a case here and there, but it takes one person a long time!  I’ll be glad to have that task purged.  Beyond that, it’s just playoff football, chicken wings and beer on the docket.

A quick thought on the temperament of the business world in Western Colorado.  They seem to have resurrected a long dead occurrence in my world, casual Friday.  I’m talking blue jeans and cowboy boots casual.  Nice.