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“Sleepless in ….”: The Green Feather Harvest 2012

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What was the last thing you did that was so good that you could not go to sleep? A film, a book, meeting someone? For me last night, it was the harvest of the Green Feather Silvaner yesterday, the buzz of so many friends and colleagues helping us out, the excitement of all the things we had researched and discussed now sitting in our hands (quite literally, in the case of some very ripe grapes).

We started the day in a fog that left the exact end of our harvesting effort a bit fuzzy. By the time of our lunch picnic, we glanced into the sun as if it was a mid-summer’s day. The parrots flapped their wings, as if this was part of the official grape treatment procedure. What was a moment of cheerful goodbyes to parrots and friends at the end of that afternoon, was also the start-gun for the – for us novices possibly nerve-racking – transition from grapes to wine. The grapes will go through some pretty transforming stages, hopefully give us the essential aromas from the grape skins and come up with some clear juice. The clear juice then dives into fermentation, to resurface as wine.

In all of these steps, the question is how deep you put your hands into the drawer of supporting powders, etc. We try to work even harder and use less of those! More on that another day, but before I head to bed, I wanted to thank everyone who turned this harvest ‘job’ into such an amazing day!

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The First Green Feather Wine Fan Post

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The first fan mail arrived!

The first Green Feather Wine fan mail has arrived! It’s from Jim (no relations), sent via Franz (with relations) and caused surprised looks from the parrot. Why? I suspect that they like nibbling on bottle corks so much that a parrot and a cork merging into must have looked to them like a glimpse of nirvana. Jim writes: “… ten out of ten for a marvelous wine” and “ …much better than a lot of so called professionally made wines”. This distinction might be correct in one sense, in that we are beginners, but Green Feather Wine is a professionally done wine, we cannot claim that such a nice wine came together in our bathtub. Green Feather Wine claims it needs a professional “Fass” in the same way as “hospitals need vas-es” (to quote one of my favourite John Hegley poem);  (“Fass” being the German term for “wine tank”,  in our case a stainless steel tank.)

Ein wein fass vor der Reining wird von Papageien geprueft

A stainless steel tank or “Fass” has an inspection.

All in all, a parcel (and email) that brought a big smile to my face, – many thanks, Jim!

Searching for a new vineyard!

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What’s the opposite of a bio-vineyard? No vineyard, in our case.  We swapped herbicides for manual weeding; chemical fertiliser for manure; we got ready for the bio-battle against illnesses. The bio-certification-application was stamped and signed.  But what we didn’t know:  Our step-by-step efforts over the last two years were like blocks put onto a Jenga-tower.  And while the vintner we are renting from gave his nods to all the previous blocks we placed onto the tower, the last step, the prospect of certification, must have given him cold feet and he let the bio-tower collapse.

jenga turm spiel faellt zusammen

a jenga tower collapsing (Shutterstock)

This means we are on the hunt for a new vineyard, where we are allowed to do bio, ideally in the same area, Rheinhessen, near Mainz. Any suggestions, let us know.

If chemicals weren’t allowed to reduce the ground underneath the vines to a brown carpet, the vineyard would risk looking like the “Wild, wild West”, we were told. This seems to be the fear that made the bio-Jenga-tower collapse. I respect that fear and won’t call in the demonstration- or tree-chaining squat. After all, Mitt Romney has weird opinions, too. But it might just be that the very ‘brown carpet’ that the chemicals create are more likely to trigger associations of the ‘Wild, wild West’…

The memory that will stay in mind from this lovely piece of land called “Am Sprung”: Our vineyard had become the ‘talk of town’, we were told, because the vines carried so many grapes. The bio-jenga-blocks must have done some good, after all.

a search for a needle in a haystack

The search for a new vineyard is on. Will it be like searching for a needle in a haystack?

A Berliner writing on Veltliner

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This post starts with a lie: I wanted to post a quick note on Silvaner, but it refused to rhyme (or almost rhyme, in the case of Veltliner, an Austrian white wine variety) with my current location, a hotel room in Berlin. And so Silvaner got ditched from the headline, a familiar fate, as this article (in German) explains (see the second half of the interview). It’s such a nice summary of Silvaner wines in Germany and how the author, Stephan Reinhardt, got into Silvaner wine, that this paragraph at least should be translated into English. Maybe it will have a dramatic effect and we’ll all start ordering these Silvaners from Franken, Roter Hang, Kaiserstuhl, etc. Or at least people will no longer think, – “Silvaner?? They must have made that one up.”

white wine fermentation yeast 2012 German silvaner

The first 2012 juice bubbling away: but a taster suggests it’s way too early, the grapes need more sun.

There is another ‘endangered species’ of German white wine, if the same author is to be believed: the semi-dry (halbtrocken oder feinherb, in German) ‘Riesling Kabinett’. In this article he explores why this amphibian (light, mixed with a hint of sweet, neither entirely dry nor heavy-sweet) is such a rarity and pictures us as readers putting in so many repeat orders for ‘Riesling Kabinett halb-trocken’ that the vintners suddenly break with old habits and drive their harvesting devices out into the fields at exactly that time when sun and grapes agree on ‘Kabinett’. As for our own grapes, their sugar levels currently stand at 65 (Oechsle), so they still have some talking to do with a friendly sun.