February 27, 2005

A New Whine

Wired Magazine has a very interesting article on the differences between wine making in Europe and the rest of this planet.

The article is two pages in length. I will cherry pick a few paragraphs.

Tradition, Tech Clash Over Wine
To the horreur of traditional winemakers in old Europe, the ancient art of making wine is being transformed by science and technology.

New vino-producing countries like Australia and Chile are becoming winemaking forces, thanks to new technology shunned by vintners in France and Spain — to their detriment.

Science is driving change across the entire industry, from irrigation to new corking systems, and from vine genetics to bacterial and disease control.

And some of these techniques:

Perhaps the single biggest factor in the success of the New World has been improvements in irrigation technology, something that is prohibited in many parts of the old winemaking world.

Australia's Southcorp, for example, responsible for Penfolds and Lindemans wines, uses drip irrigation, which requires high capital investment but is far more efficient than traditional flood irrigation. Another technique is restricted deficit irrigation, which keeps vines under stress conditions, giving growers control over grape size and quality.

Through advances in the plant sciences, many New World wine regions use irrigation intelligently to maximize quality,” said Kennedy. “This has been achieved through progress in understanding vine stress and its relationship to wine composition, and being able to manage this situation.”

And talking about the French concept of terroir

“As we look at wine more as something that is produced, rather than as a unique product from a particular place, this also allows us to think of ways to increase the level of flavor or speed up aging,” said James Lapsley, a wine economist at the University of California at Davis. Micro-oxygenation, for example, imparts a barrel-aged flavor to wine stored in stainless steel. Adding oak chips to wine and analyzing the amount of oak flavor is a quick, easy way to add complex flavor.

One thing we are looking at very closely is yeast:

Besides irrigation, the biggest changes due to pure science have come from the now-intimate understanding of the key organism in fermentation, yeast.

“Huge changes have taken place because of the understanding of the relationship between microbial growth in musts and wine, and the influence on wine flavor,” said Kennedy. “Tremendous advances have been made in characterizing flavor compounds and the microorganisms that contribute to them. When the flavor compounds are detrimental to wine quality, we have become much more effective in controlling the growth of these organisms.”As is typical in the modern world, advances in science and technology outpace changes in legislation. For example, in Spain the law says that a Reserva wine must be aged for at least 12 months, and a Gran Reserva for at least 18 months. But when Teresa Garde Cerdán, a researcher in chemical sciences at the Public University of Navarre in northern Spain, conducted the first chemical analysis experiments on different types of wines and casks, what she found was unexpected.

The maximum concentrations of aromatic compounds transferred to wine from wood is reached after 10 to 12 months of the wine being stored in wooden casks, Cerdán found. After that, the compounds either remain the same or even begin to decrease.

“Our results have been published in scientific journals, but we don't know if these journals are read in the cellars,” said Cerdán. “So we will have to wait a little to see what happens.”

The emphasis is mine on the “we don't know…” quote in the paragraph above. The differences between yeast strains are critical. Given the same starting must, I can get totally different flavor profiles based on fermentation temperature and yeast strain.

An interesting and thoughtful article. There is a lot of tradition in Cider and Mead Making just as there is in Wine Making but we should not be blind to new technologies that come along.

The quality of the finished product is the ultimate goal.

We are not making Bud Light or Ripple here…

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February 25, 2005

Network fun and games

This household was off-line for a few hours today because our ISP Starband Systems needed to switch us from one Satellite to another. They had “oversubscribed” the first bird and people were complaining about sluggish traffic so they bought space on another.

This was a planned outage and I am very happy with their service especially that of their local installer Saberis Satellite. David also handles several other satellite services including DishNetwork. If you live in the Northwest Washington and are thinking about satellite Internet or Television, give them a call at 360-303-0174 or visit their website for email info.

An unsolicited plug for some very good people…

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February 19, 2005

New links added

I added some new categories to our links section in the right column of your screen.

Commercial Cideries
Westcott Bay
West County Winery
Ford Farms Cyderworks
Blue Mountain Cider Company
Merridale Ciderworks

Mead Links
Got Mead?
Mead Made Complicated
SCA Historic Brewing
Honeywine
An Analysis of Mead, Mead Making…

Commercial Meaderies
Sky River
Redstone Meadery
Rabbits Foot Meadery
Ambrosia by Kristy

Enjoy…

Posted by DaveH at 05:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Changes to the website

I just made a major change to the software that I use to maintain this website. I am checking to see that there are no big surprises.

Any inadvertent changes in format (colors, page layout, etc…) should be taken care of today.

Posted by DaveH at 03:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2005

Last few days

I have not posted anything for a few days. Here is why:

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Jen and I took delivery of three cords of firewood. (A Cord is a volumetric measure for wood - 128 Cubic Feet or a box four by four by eight feet.) I took the picture above after we had stacked about half of it. This is green wood, still heavy and full of sap so it will not be used this winter but will be perfect for next winter's heating. Only problem is that Self-Stacking firewood has not been invented. If there was ever a case for Genetic Modification, this is it.

The weather was nice yesterday and today so Jen and I took the time off from our other projects:

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Finally, we were done — here is next years heat. We also have ten acres of timber and are having someone come in to thin it this spring. We will be getting a couple more cords out of that too so we will be nice and snug inside.

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And of course we took a break and played the rural version of a classic video game:

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February 13, 2005

Weather today

The Mt. Baker Ski area had some gorgeous weather today. They got about seven inches of new powder this morning so skiing and snowboarding was really good.

It was fun going into Maple Falls earlier today — I had to cross the main highway (542) and traffic was so heavy, it took a couple minutes for a gap to appear…

Here are some photos from their gallery:

Top of Chair 6

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Gunners to The Canyon

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Parting Shot: Mt. Shuksan

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Posted by DaveH at 06:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tasting

One of the key analytical tools for making Cider is your sense of smell and taste. With training, the average person can detect parts-per-million of the chemicals that affect flavor and aroma.

The same is true with Wine. The Sacramento Bee has a fun article about this.
The author J. Freedom du Lac is invited to judge at the 2005 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Here is the link to the article at the Bee — they require “free” registration but you can use the website Bugmenot to get a username and password.

You be the judge
Does a first-time wine judge have the palate to sip with the big sniffers?

The competition hasn't even started when palate paranoia sets in.
Shortly after 8:30 a.m., an angular-faced guy in a white lab coat sitting to my right begins boasting about having power-tasted his way through nearly 200 wines in a six-hour period - and then having done the same thing the very next day.

I'm sure I didn't taste that many in all of 2003 and 2004, let alone over any two-day period, ever.

But whatever.

Right now, the focus is on quality - which, suddenly, I'm not so certain I can discern.

Sitting among so many enological experts with teeth that appear to be permanently stained a grapey purple color will do that to you.

It's the first day of the 2005 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair building, and for some reason, I received an official invitation to participate in this thing.

It feels like interloping, given that I've never before judged in a wine competition.

And yet I'm about to help decide the medal-winning fates of a good many of the record 3,200 wines submitted for this competition - which, I'm told, is now the largest one for American wines.

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The story is a lot of fun — some interesting characters at this event.

The rest of the article is available by clicking on the Continue reading “Tasting” link below.

Hat tip to the Vinography Blog for this link

Good thing I've seen “Sideways” and, therefore, know how to look the part of Serious Wine Taster.

You know: Swirl. Sniff. Sip. Gaze skyward while getting a Deep Thoughts look. Spit.

Rinse. Repeat.

“It's like I tell my customers: It's whatever you like,” says Kristi Mohar, wine buyer for Fiesta Market, a grocery in nearby Sebastopol. “It's just grape juice, if you think about it.”

Mohar is trying to make me feel better, having learned just moments ago that I'm a wine competition virgin.

It works, kind of.

I can do this, I'm now telling myself.

I know from bad boxed wine.

My self-trained palate sits on the right side of the American average.

Then the meeting starts, the introductions are made, and I realize that I'm well out of my league.

But it's too late: I'm now committed to tasting 71 chardonnays before lunch - and to comparing my dubious notes and ratings with two professional wine critics, the wine-savvy owner of Sacramento's Italian Importing Co. and a retired viticulture professor who has a wine bacterium named in his honor.

Though rarely said out loud, the sole purpose of wine competitions - of which there are dozens annually in the United States - is to offer an assist to the $20 billion domestic wine industry.

Some consumers, you see, need a reason beyond a pretty label to buy a particular bottle - and a “Double Gold Medal” sticker on the store shelf apparently can help make that happen.

Jess Jackson, who lords over the Kendall-Jackson wine empire, even credits a silver medal with helping his billion-dollar business get going in the early 1980s. (Couldn't find a New York distributor to save my life, he says, until our chardonnay got that medal.)

But while the competitions are vetting devices, in which experts separate the wine world's wheat from its chaff, there also exists considerable internal pressure to give generous scores - to the point that one veteran panelist half-jokingly notes at the judges' meeting here that “the goal is to give golds to half the wines.”

Unafraid to acknowledge the elephant in the room, Bob Fraser, the executive director of the competition, is basically admitting as much at this gathering of great fermented-grape tasters.

“My idea of the competition is to give wineries help in selling wine,” Fraser tells the judges, of whom there are around 50 - wine writers, wine buyers, winemakers, wine professors and such. “It's for the sake of the industry.”

As Fraser says this, Robert Mayfield's eyes are coming uncorked.

The publisher and editor of a wine journal called The Wine Iconoclast appears to be amazed by Fraser's frankness.

“That,” Mayfield says, “is the first time I've ever heard somebody at a competition actually admit that's the goal.”

Hey - me, too! Of course, I've never been to a competition before.

Nor, by the way, have I tasted wine this early in the morning.

And yet, it's now 9:30 a.m., and I'm shuffling to my assigned tasting area - a few tables arranged in an L, covered with white tablecloths and surrounded by silver and burgundy curtains.

At each of the five folding metal chairs is a lineup of 10 wines in crystal glasses with numbers written on the base - 72 through 81.

There are other tools of the trade, too: A stack of scoring sheets, two pencils, a red plastic cup and small white bucket for spitting out the wine. (Spitting is critical at a competition, in part because you need to stay fresh while tasting so many wines, but also, apparently, because a good number of the wines are bad enough that they could well kill you.)

There is also a bottle of water, a bread plate and a lab coat - which no doubt delights my fellow panelist, Ralph E. Kunkee, the retired enology professor from the University of California, Davis, for whom the wine bacterium Lactobacillus kunkeei is named. (Loose translation: Don't drink this!)

The mad wine scientist is seated two spots to my right, next to Eric Degerman, an associate editor for Wine Press Northwest who has drawn the assignment of baby-sitting me during the competition.

Wedged between Kunkee and Luigi Velo, the Italian Importing Co. owner, is Rosina Tinari Wilson, a senior editor at Wine X Magazine.

Staring at the five of us is Debbie Moore, a volunteer coordinator whose primary role, it seems, is to help make those results positive for the wine producers who've submitted their wares.

In real life, when she's not working for free wine at this competition, Moore is an executive at a mortgage brokerage.

Here, she is a taskmaster: She tells us that we can personally assign a gold, silver, bronze or no-medal ranking to each wine.

But, she adds: “Think gold.”

And thus, after brief introductions, the heavy lifting (drinking?) begins.

All my panel knows is that the 71 wines we're scheduled to taste this morning are chardonnays, costing between $14 and $19.99, and produced in California, Washington, Oregon or Idaho - the four states invited to submit wines at this competition.

We taste the first 10 wines in silence, aside from the occasional sound of somebody sniffing or spitting loudly.

I manage to convince myself that a couple of the wines are very good. Three, I decide, are horrible. The rest are somewhere in between: Potable but hardly profound - whatever that means.

After maybe 10 minutes, the fun begins in earnest as Moore asks us each to read our rankings out loud to determine what, if any, medal each wine will win.

The gig is up, I think; surely, I'll be exposed as a fraud and asked to turn in my lab coat.

But a strange thing happens: As we read from our results sheets, wine-by-wine, I realize that my rankings are aligned with the rest of the panelists' - particularly Velo's and Wilson's.

I begin to feel better about my palate, which has never had any formal training - no sensory evaluation courses, no tasting seminars, nothing but wine books and wine magazines and conversations with winemakers and, of course, all those bottles I've consumed over the past 10 years.

I don't even flinch when Moore gets all pop-quizzy and asks me to talk up a wine that I'd scored higher than anybody else, in the hope that I can persuade them to raise their rankings (a common practice at this competition, as it turns out).

Though nobody moves their medal up, I still hold my own by speaking in tongues about, like, green apple notes on the nose and lemon-curd flavors and bright acidity and well-integrated oak and all that.

In all, the first flight passes without incident: Though two of the 10 wines do not receive a medal, and four are awarded bronze, there are two golds to go along with a pair of silvers - enough to keep the coordinator Moore happy.

Kunkee exhales. He's judged at a few tastings in each of the past 30 or so years. But still, he says, “The first flight is always nerve-racking.”

This rookie is now relaxed. Already, I'm thinking about lunch and a nice walk through town.

Just then, two guys wheel in a cart that's holding another 50 glasses - 10 more wines for each panelist.

Flight 2 of seven in our chardonnay round.

This is going to be a long, long day - though I don't even know the half of it yet: Fraser stops by later to tell my panel that we're adding a bunch of port wines to our afternoon schedule, which already includes cabernet francs.

By the end of the day, we'll have tasted 159 wines in six hours - a period during which my mouth turns purple, my handwriting turns to Sanskrit and I can literally feel the enamel melting away from my teeth.

I'll also have consumed eight bottles of water and, somehow, 16 dinner rolls.

(Even if my palate does not impress my fellow tasters, I am sure my appetite does.)

In 2004, the panelists received denim shirts that identified them thusly: “Professional Judge.” This year, the shirts we're given say nothing about being professional.

It's my fault, I'm sure.

Most of the other judges, after all, have probably spit out more great wine in their lives than I've dreamed of drinking.

It's a blue-ribbon group of wine geeks that includes winemaker John Parducci, one of the founders of this competition, which has seen staggering growth since it was first held in 1983.

It was known then as the Cloverdale Citrus Fair Wine Competition, and five judges - including Parducci - evaluated 38 wines from a small area in and around town.

This year, there are more than that many in just the sweepstakes round, which includes the top wine from each of the 56 classifications - from sauvignon blanc and pinot gris to pinot noir under $14 and zinfandel $30 and over.

In total, more than 3,200 wines have been submitted by about 900 wineries for consideration.

The majority will receive medals.

So, too, should I.

After all, this is hard work.

Really.

Wine judging is not the boondoggle it may seem in theory.

You are exhausted by the end of each day, if not earlier. You sit on metal folding chairs for hours and subject yourself to more than your share of terrible wines.

You don't get out much, either. Cloverdale may well be a swell place, but I wouldn't know: I didn't have a chance to see much beyond the Citrus Fair building and the nearby motel where the judges were sequestered over three nights

“It's jury duty with alcohol,” jokes Tim McDonald, a longtime judge who works as a marketing executive for Gallo.

Says Fraser, the executive director of the competition: “It's not easy. It's physically and mentally taxing.”

So why do it?

There's ego involved, for sure. Your presence on a judging panel implies that you have a particularly good palate.

There's also a social aspect: Most of the judges seem to know each other, as though this is some sort of fraternity. (And it is more fraternity than sorority, as the panelists tend to fit a particular demographic: 40-plus white male.)

There are professional reasons, too. Velo, the Italian Importing Co. owner, says he uses the results to make purchasing decisions. Winemakers and educators and writers say they like to take the industry's pulse by tasting a bunch of wines in a short period of time.

But there's also the undeniable fact that these people simply love their wine.

They talk about it incessantly before, during and after the tasting - about soil types and synthetic corks and cabernet clones and great German rieslings, about whether the American appellation system makes sense and whether there's such a thing as a great petite sirah.

“This is a privilege,” says Sue Straight, the marketing director for Limerick Lane Cellars. She has been doing the Cloverdale tasting for about 15 years. Wouldn't miss it for the world, she says. “We're so fortunate to be able to do this.”

So, when it's time for sweepstakes on the final day and the judges come together to taste the top 56 wines from the competition, I tell myself that I should count my lucky stars rather than wonder how in the world my fatigued palate is ever going to pick the best red, white and sparkling wine out of the field.

And then, the palate paranoia returns as I look around the room at all the experts and realize that my vote will count just as much.

Something is wrong with this picture.

Still, I soldier on and make my picks.

And when I compare notes with Wine Press Northwest's Degerman after the ballots have been collected, I see that he loved the 2003 Earthquake Petite Sirah from Lodi enough to rank it in first place.

Then, Fraser tells us that the red-wine sweepstakes winner is … the 2003 Earthquake Petite Sirah.

Degerman beams. “I do know what I'm talking about,” he says.

Apparently, so do I: I'd ranked the wine second out of 39 reds on my ballot.

I guess my palate's nothing to sniff at, after all.
Posted by DaveH at 04:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2005

Our Products

There was a question raised by an earlier entry — the one discussing our use of Apple Juice Concentrate.

The Concentrate will be used in one and only one of our products.
This is the “farm cider” which will be sold in Kegs and Mini-Kegs.

Our trees will be coming into full production in three years and when they do, we will be offering varietal ciders made from 100% apples grown in our own orchard. We will continue to make the Cider from concentrate (there is a large market for this) but the two products will not mix.

Our Mead production will start this Spring when the fresh local Honey becomes available. Mead takes about six months to make so sales will begin in Fall.

A word about the Mini-Kegs:

These are pretty slick — they hold 2.5 Gallons, fit into a standard refrigerator and are reusable. There is a food-grade bag inside that holds the Cider. There is an “activation pouch” that fits between the outside of this bag and the inside of the bottle and this provides constant pressure to maintain carbonation and dispense the product. When the keg is returned, the bag and pouch are discarded and the rest of the Keg can be reused.

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What got me thinking about these is that we are on the road leading to a major camping and recreational area and also two miles away from the road leading to the Mt. Baker Ski Resort. Skiers will get a group of friends together to rent a cottage and what could be more refreshing after a day on the slopes than a nice glass or two of hand-made Cider. We plan to provide this to them…

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A letter from home...

Jen found this on one of the online forums she reads (Homesteading today)

Dear Redneck son,

I'm writing this slow because I know you can't read fast. We don't live where we did when you left home.

Your dad read in the newspaper that most accidents happen within 20 miles of your home, so we moved. I won't be able to send you the address because the last West Virginia family that lived here took the house numbers when they moved so they wouldn't have to change their address.

This place is really nice. It even has a washing machine. I'm not sure about it. I put a load of clothes in and pulled the chain. We haven't seen them since.

The weather isn't bad here. It only rained twice last week; the first time for three days and the second time for four days.

About that coat you wanted me to send; your Uncle Billy Bob said it would be too heavy to send in the mail with the buttons on, so we cut them off and put them in the pockets.

Bubba locked his keys in the car yesterday. We were really worried because it took him two hours to get me and your father out.

Your sister had a baby this morning, but I haven't found out what it is yet so I don't know if you are an aunt or uncle. The baby looks just like your brother.

Uncle Bobby Ray fell into a whiskey vat last week. Some men tried to pull him out but he fought them off and drowned. We had him cremated, he burned for three days.

Three of your friends went off a bridge in a pickup truck. Butch was driving. He rolled down the window and swam to safety. Your other two friends were in the back. They drowned because they couldn't get the tailgate down.

There isn't much more news at this time. Nothing much out of the normal has happened.

Your Favorite Aunt,

Mom
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February 11, 2005

Apple Juice Concentrate

Also today, we received some samples of Apple Juice Concentrate from Tree Top. I know that for some Cider Makers, this is tantamount to admitting that you like to smash small fuzzy bunnies with a mallet but we will be making a variety of Cider with this. This will be coming out this fall (if we get our licensing approved by then) and the product will be sold in Kegs to restaurants and taverns. We will also offer reusable 2.5 Gallon portable kegs with carbonation for people to take home.

It is going to be another three years before our own 140 trees start producing fruit in any appreciable quantity and we need to get something on the market now. The other commercial Cider Companies (Spire etc…) brew this way too but they generally brew at double strength and high temperature to turn out lots of product fast. We will be brewing as though it was real juice — slow cool fermentation and standard strength — so our product will come out tasting a lot better. The concentrate comes from Washington grown apples so this gives it a regional appeal.

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Posted by DaveH at 03:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Final stages of test brewing

Today's photo shows our final test brewing for both Cider, Cyser, Melomel and Mead.

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The carboys contain the following. Top row (counter) left to right:
* A yeast slurry to be pitched into the Blackberry Honey Sweet Mead (the small jar)
* Criterion, Ashmeads Kernal and Dabinett blend Cider
* Criterion, Brown Snout and Dabinett blend Cider
* Stayman Winesap Varietal fermenting with a wild yeast collected at our farm
* Stayman Winesap Varietal fermenting with a commercial yeast
* Blackberry Honey Sweet Mead

Lower Row (table) left to right
* Mixed Berry Melomel
* Commercial Honey sweet mead
* Blackberry Honey and Honeycrisp Cyser
* Stayman Winesap Varietal fermenting with a commercial yeast

NOTES:

The yeast slurry and the Mead are separate because the Mead is still a little too hot to add the yeast. You can get off flavors if not outright killing your yeast if you combine them at too high a temperature. I pasteurize the wort at 160 degrees F and need to cool it down. The yeast slurry is prepared by making a small batch of Mead, adding the powdered yeast and letting it ferment. At the height of fermentation when the yeast has multiplied and are very happily fermenting away, I then add it to the final batch of Mead. This ensures a solid start to my fermentation.

The wild yeast that I am experimenting with is one that we found by letting some one-gallon batches ferment on their own. Some were not good but this one has a very nice flavor profile on the finished product. It would be very nice if this one could be scaled up to our commercial production. Finally a use for my College Microbiology classes and Jen's Biochemistry background…

The Stayman Winesap apples came from trees already on property. They are a fine eating apple and make awesome Cider — we will be grafting more of these as our orchard expands…

The Ashmeads Kernal, Brown Snout and Dabinett Cider apples came from the Western Washington Fruit Research Center — they hold Fall Openhouses and give the starting Cidermaker the opportunity to buy some of their fruit.

The Mixed Berry (Raspberry, Blueberry and Marionberry) Melomel has not had the berries added yet — I am letting the Honey ferment for a few weeks first. I will then transfer the juice to a tank and mash the berries in, letting them sit under a CO2 blanket for a about two weeks. I will then strain out this mess and transfer it back into a new fermenting carboy for the final fermentation and clarification. A lot more work but the end result is this wonderful wine-like berry-like flavor that really improves with cellaring. This will be one of the Premium Products we sell but it will be worth it…

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February 09, 2005

Growing apple trees

It was perfect conditions today to spray dormant oil and Bordeaux on our trees.

The Bordeaux is a mix of Lime and Copper Sulphate which help to knock out any fungal infections that are trying to overwinter. The oil helps the Bordeaux to stick and smothers any insect eggs that happen to be on the trees. These two treatments are essential and fall within Organic Management techniques.

Our spray rig is is a bit improvised but it offers pin-point spray control with minimal overshoot and waste:

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Closeup of the sprayer itself. You are looking at a 14 gallon polyethylene tank with a marine-grade pump mounted on top. It is powered by the car battery. The pump was originally designed to pump potable water in boats and has a built-in pressure sensor and it shuts off when you are not using it. High reliability, great pressure and very easy to maintain and repair. Cheap too…

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Here's me spraying all sorts of fun stuff…

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The day was dead still, dry and fairly warm so it was perfect for spraying. This is about the only treatment these trees will get except for fertilization (compost) and mulching (more compost).

Posted by DaveH at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

Brewing

As I mentioned here, Jen and I have been making some more test batches of Cider and Mead. Here is a photo of our kitchen with the five gallon carboys.

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The reason for all the different batches is that we are trying out different varieties of yeast and blends of juice to see what we like best. Each strain of yeast imparts a slightly different flavor profile to the finished cider and by doing this, we can find out what we like and want to make.

As of today, there is one more carboy of Mead on this table and two scheduled for Friday.

Posted by DaveH at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 06, 2005

Cider (and Mead) making today

Jen and I had frozen some of the extra juice from last Fall's pressings and we spent today making some more Cider. Did about 30 Gallons of various Apple varieties and we are testing a some different kinds of yeast including a wild one collected from one of our trees.

We also made 5 Gallons of Sweet Mead (15 Lbs. of good Clover Honey) and planning to make a couple other batches using some of the Blackberry honey we got from Jerry Guilmette — I wrote about him here.

I'll post photos of all the carboys bubbling happily in a few days…

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Intermittent weather updates

Because of the high volume of snowfall, the automatic uploads of weather information may miss one or two 15-minutes cycles.

Our internet service is via a two-way satellite connection and we have had to sweep the snow off the dish a couple times already today…

Otherwise, the Mt. Baker Ski area is going great guns and reporting lots of new snow.

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SNOW!

Woke up this morning to a light snowfall and it has been getting progressively heavier and heavier.

One of our dogs is a Siberian Husky and she is in seventh heaven right now.
Just hanging out — chillin'

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February 04, 2005

Weather on Mt. Baker

We are finally getting some snow at Mt. Baker. The temperature has dropped to 38 where we are (700') and Black Mountain has patches of snow at around 1,500'.

The Mt. Baker snow report as of 7:21pm today was 8” of new snowfall.

We have had about 1.6” of rain down here so it looks like the ski season will be back online in a day or two.

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And yes, it was that color today for about 30 minutes.
Heavy overcast skies and a small break in the clouds to reveal the light of the setting sun.

Posted by DaveH at 07:52 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2005

New links added / one changed

I have added a few new links under the Cider Links section at the lower right of this page.
They are all from England. Added are:

Marcher Apple Network
The Real Cider and Perry Page
National Association of Cider Makers (U.K.)
Peter Mitchell Food and Drink (Cider classes)

The Marcher site represents the work of about 300 apple and pear enthusiasts who work to revive old varieties of apples and pears in the Southern Welsh Marches in England.

The Real Cider and Perry website was first developed in 1990 by Gillian Grafton (last update 6 May 1996) and was taken over in 2003 by Paul Gunningham who is the present editor.

The National Association of Cider Makers is a commercial association of the large UK Cider Makers — some interesting photographs and information.

Peter Mitchell is the main person for teaching people how to go into Cider production. He comes over to this part of the planet (Mt. Vernon) twice a year and teaches some fantastic classes. Jen and I have each taken one of his classes and look forward to more.

The link that changed was the one for the Long Ashton Research Station.
They closed and their facilities were absorbed into Rothamsted Research Centre.
The link now points to Rothamsted.

Posted by DaveH at 06:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Weather links for Mt. Baker area

I have had some requests for more weather information specifically for the Mt. Baker area.

I found a couple of good links:

Mt. Baker — updated hourly, automated
http://www.nwac.us/products/OSOMTB

SUMMARY BACKCOUNTRY AVALANCHE FORECAST FOR THE OLYMPICS AND WASHINGTON CASCADES
http://www.nwac.us/products/SABWA

Washington State Mountain Pass Road Report — Mt. Baker
http://wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/PassInformation.aspx#baker

WS-DOT alerts and warnings
http://wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/trafficalerts/

And finally two others of interest:

NOOKSACK River AT DEMING
http://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/river/station/flowplot/flowplot.cgi?DEMW1

Mt St Helens VolcanoCam
http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/index.shtml

These will be incorporated in our main Maple Falls / Glacier / Mt. Baker weather page here when I finish the new website. The new site should go live in about a week.

Posted by DaveH at 03:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 01, 2005

Goat Hiking

The weather was gorgeous today (dry, temps in the 50's) so Jen and I loaded up our two goats into the back of the pickup and went for a walk in the woods.

goat-trail-01.jpg
Click for full-size Image

Here I am with the goats — Gohan is the older and bigger one.
Oreo is the little bundle of trouble on the left.

goat-trail-02.jpg
Click for full-size Image

Jen is leading them up the trail — Gohan is wearing his saddle and panniers. He can carry about 40 pounds of supplies and being a goat, he does not need to have food brought along — he can forage.

Gohan had done packing before so he was used to it. This was Oreo's first time out on a leash and with Gohan so he had some pretty strong ideas about what he wanted to do…

Posted by DaveH at 04:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack