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Harvest Season

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” William Blake

There’s something magical about harvest season when you live in wine country. It’s a current of electricity that runs through the everyone and everything. I always think of Dr. Seuss. Ya know those giant machines that come in to clean up after “It 1 and 2 and the kids? Well, there are grape. Picking machines driving on the roads at this time, and Dr Seuss is at the forefront of my thoughts…I kind of giggle like a child when they get in front of me. I can take it for a mile or so, but then I have to pass them, but not without waving like a deranged lunatic. It is just exciting!!

We don’t use machines to harvest our grapes, we have to hire people. My husband as well as our winemaker get out in the field and pick with all the other people working in our fields. Just this past week we have already processes several tons of grapes, and pressed them. So, the fermentation process is already starting for the 2017 wines. I believe the Merlot for this year has already been picked, destemed, and pressed. 

These were photos of the grapes before some of the fruit was dropped. We have to drop fruit so the healthiest grapes will get the most water, and the best sunshine. Depending on the variety, canopy may have to be cut back to get the right amount of sun, or less sun. We want to pick at just the right amount of Brix, which is the sugar content in the grapes, too high, and the wine is too sweet, you want just the right amount to make great wine.

 We try to maintain a sustainable vineyard, and keep the dropped fruit for compost. Once the grapes are pressed the must will be used for more compost to mix back into the soil and boost the soil with microbes that recondition the soil.  Our ducks are always in the vineyard taking care of the slugs, and soon we want to introduce babydoll sheep and chickens. The sheep will help with the grass and cover crops, and the chickens will take care of the insects in the vineyard. The chickens will also give us fantastic eggs to eat. It all makes for better wine every year. A wine that you can enjoy and feel good about drinking. We look forward to getting closer to becoming more biodynamic! 

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Winery Ducks

Recently, a lady brought over her rescue duck Aflac, and I want to tell you he has made friends with these two white ducks and the one black duck. These three were added recently by an unknown person. We happened to see the two white ones and the black one hanging out together. We do have several wild ducks that stop at the pond, and help the domesticated ducks finish their food at the end of the evening.

We are so happy that Aflac is adjusting to life at the winery.

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Nun Playing A Violin

Although this is a print, it is an antique print. The original was a painting from the Italian Renaissance. The painter and subject are unknown. The face of the nun appears very young. Which is not a surprise, since families often sent a daughter to the convent. Often, the families just couldn’t afford a dowery for more than one girl, and sometimes they couldn’t afford one. A young woman would go to the convent ready to serve the church. Gardening, cleaning, praying, helping the poor. Mother Superior was in charge of the fate of the young lady.

This print reminds me of an educated lady, grieving for her family. Maybe it is an evening of a full moon where the light hits the courtyard just right, and the echo of her violin playing brings tears to the eyes of the other young ladies that have come to the convent. Young ladies that miss their families, and their old way of life.

Of course, there were young ladies that came to the convent and had a better life after they were surrounded by other young ladies. There would have been young ladies that would be able to eat good food once they were in the convent. I was once told that city poor was much different than country poor. If you were poor and lived in the city it was a little tougher to obtain fresh food. If you were poor in the country one could glean from neighboring farmers, there were eggs from chickens, and one could grow some of their own food.

Looking at old images really makes me grateful to live here and now. I am so thankful, and appreciate our ancestors, each and everyone of them. The lives they had were not easy! The choices they had to make were so different, and so far removed from the world we live in today.

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Finally Done

San Marcos Creek Villa is done, and here are the results of all our hard work…

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When Life Gives You Sh*t…

When life gives you sh*t, you make compost. Farm life isn’t always about the cute animals, they have a lot of crap. We compost all our garbage, and even the poo. Nothing, really goes to waste. LOL!

Not only do we compost, but we also have a vermicompost. What is vermicompost? So, we have been utilizing this system since our eldest child was 18months old. We wanted our children to understand the cycle of life, as well as start them young with finding an alternative to the landfill. This is such a great way to incorporate your shredded paper, coffee grounds, apple cores, banana peels, etc. I don’t mix the two systems. The animal waste products and the vermicompost.

The bigger pile has to be rotated, and it takes about a year to use in the garden. So, it may not be pretty, but it is a part of farm life. Sustainable practices like our grandparents and great grandparents used as they farmed. Caring for the land, and not striping the land. Every living thing is important, including the worms.

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Aflac at the Winery

The other day, a lady comes to the winey and ask me to allow her to release her duck. The name of the duck Aflac. She even brought a giant bag of food to feed her duck, and ask me if it was ok to bring some apples to feed Aflac. We took the very large cage over to the pond to allow Aflac to see the water. Here are some of the photos of his release…

The other duck with the red bill is Matilda, and she is the other loner that I believed might be a friend or buddy to Aflac. The two mallards are the bullies of the pond. Once Aflac got into the pond the two mallards went after Aflac. I have found myself looking for Aflac in the afternoon, and making sure he has food. It is a little heartbreaking that he hasn’t made any pond friends. Maybe, he just needs time to fit into the pond with the other ducks.

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New Goat on the Farm

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Meet Rocco, he is our new goat. He is in the stall with Charlie Daniels. We brought Charlie up from the pasture since Rocco was crying so much. Goats are herd animals and like to be with others, so we had to get him a little friend to share his stall with for a couple of nights. Once we take the two of them down to meet all the girls, he will have a friend.

Next, we have to move all the girlfriends of Willie Nelson over to the other pasture. Then, once the girls are pregnant they can go up to the stalls. By that time, we should also have a calf. We will keep you all posted on how it’s going on the farm.

 

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One Year Anniversary

September 9th is our anniversary day, we have been winery owners for one full year. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and there was lots of work to do. We got grass added to the back patio area, bocce ball court, a beautiful fountain, and Reale Leone Inn open.

After I had it all decorated, and ready to go…Roberto tells me, “Honey, there needs to be a pressure pump for the water.” Tears started welling up in my eyes. I didn’t want to cry in front of everyone, so I went over to the Inn. I went upstairs and starting wailing like a baby. We’ve spent millions of dollars and we still can’t make money until we have the Inn open…Oh, what have we done?

I hear someone is in the Inn with me. I see our air conditioning technician. He tells me “Kimberly, we may have to open this wall to get this air conditioner to work correctly.” What? We just finished the place, and you may have to open the wall? He reminded me that it would be the last thing they would do if nothing else worked. I hid upstairs again, and cried, and cried, and cried. I’m not exaggerating when I am telling you that I cried all day long!

I have learned that it takes a little while (months) for people to spread the word about a place of interest. Before we opened, people would tell us “Oh, I can’t wait to rent the whole Inn.” Well, that hasn’t happened as of yet. We have been full for several days at a time, and now, most weekends are full. It took a while before it happened though.

We just opened our “Casa Dell Arte“, a place where young and old can learn paintings, crafts, yoga, dance. A destination where people can learn. Paint and sip classes for adults, and painting classes for children. Yoga classes in the morning, and dance classes in the evening. Craft classes for fun and exciting activities.

We are about to openĀ villadelsole-logo-rgb

The big house on the hill that is 5,000 square feet. The last few items that need to be finished are wireless, washer and dryer need to be installed, and direct tv. The villa has a wrap around porch. Huge kitchen for several people to gather at the same time. Comfy and beautiful rooms, super spacious bathrooms.

We love our winery, and it’s even more gorgeous than it was when we purchased it. We are expanding on the dream of the original owner, and trying to preserve his legacy as well. I’m sure I haven’t spent my last day crying, but most days are fantastic. We are going to carry on, and get better with every year!

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Rebecca Lovejoy Hagar Adkins

Rebecca was born in 1838 in Cabell County, Virginia. She was the child of William Lovejoy and Docia Stowers. She was married three times, and had 7 children. She died in 1876 at the age of 38.

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Her first marriage was at 17 years old. Her unsound died by the time she was 22. At the same time the Southern states secedes from the United States. In 1865 on April 5th. Rebecca married Luke G. Adkins, she was 27 years old.

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In 1876 Rebecca died. She is buried in Lincoln County, West Virginia.

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Only The Strong Survive

We started off with more than 100 chickens, and we are down to two. Dovie and her daughter are our two remaining chickens. Dovie, named because she kinda reminded us of a dove. The daughter of Dovie is only only surviving chicken that was born here on the farm.

What happened to our chickens? Well, going to football games, parties, winery events has had it’s toll on the chickens. We would come home, and 30 chickens would be gone. We wanted our chickens to be “Free Range”, well, they were free range, but so are coyotes and foxes. The foxes are so beautiful, I sometimes just want to give them a chicken, especially a rooster. LOL!

 

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Dovie, and her daughter like to hang out with the cow (Luna), and the goats. They come around in the morning for their scratch food, and then wander around the farm. So, we will not get any new chickens, until we have put up fences to keep the chickens in one location, and keep the coyotes and foxes out of the chicken coop area. Another lesson learned from the farm. Fences are a good thing.