All of our posts from 2015

The August Santa Claus

It is August and we have to think of Xmas, or winter, at least.  We want the ground to be full of nutrients in the New Year, without adding it chemically.  We therefore have to sow some plants that can do that. Our “Santa Claus” thus arrived with the “Winterbegruenung” and to leave the ground undisturbed, we flattened the seeds into the ground with the big wheely thing.  All highly technical and scientific. The whole scene was overlooked by one of our friendlier “scare crows”.

TJ and Walze


Shades of pips

They announce it in the newspapers here in Germany.  The harvest has started. Bacchus in particular.  We have Bacchus (a bit, – the main bits are Silvaner, which ripens later).  We are not harvesting right now.  The Bacchus tastes yummy though, so clearly on its way.

To be more scientific, here are the pips.  We have three bits within the “motorway of vines”, “3 Stueckerl”, Silvaner, Silvaner and Bacchus. That’s the order of the pictures below.  The pip turning brown is an indication of ripeness.  As I said, all very scientific.  I would call the last pic halfway between green and brown.  So even our Bacchus has a bit to go. Phew. We would not be ready yet.

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Why Londoners should drink Silvaner

Or: the Art of Making Silvaner.

Our silvaner grape, growing on a very fertile “Loess” soil, has a few annoying habits and no amount of hugging or love-deprivation seems to get rid of it.

Those habits are:

1) the berries on each bunch love to stand squeezed in a tight second-row spot, as if travelling the London or Tokyo tube during rush hour.

2) the vines produce way too many grapes.  A third of that and the plant would stand a chance of carrying them to full ripeness without turning into a mouldy mess.

3) at the end of all of that, ie when we come to take them off, they don’t want to let go of their juice. I DON’T BELIEVE IT! All that trouble for the whole year and he/she/thegrape/theberry holds it in, like you would do, if you tried to avoid the toilets during a music festival. (Roddy Doyle, in “The Guts”, gives you a more graphic description of the latter.)


All of these habits would deserve its own chapter, on how we try to get round those terrible habits, with tricks or sheer hard work.  Suffice to say that making wine out of totally ripe and clean (ie, no mould) Silvaner grapes amounts to an art.  You should try the results!

Evidence of Habit No 1:


the "second row" berry found hiding when cutting away the first row. Expected to go mouldy when feeling the squeeze from first row, if left growing as-is. Will evenutally turn the whole bunch into a mouldy mess.

the “second row” berry found hiding when cutting away the first row. Expected to go mouldy when feeling the squeeze from first row, if left growing as-is. Will eventually turn the whole bunch into a mouldy mess.

Evidence of Habit No 2:

"before and after" cutting two thirds away

“before and after” cutting two thirds away

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Too tightly packed, those berries, and it is only July:

berries London Underground squeeze too tightly packed


Here is what the London underground feel would look like, if left untreated! For more gory details, click here.

To say it is disheartening, knowing that these bunches are heading for “mouldy” doom in the “bio/organic” world (if left untreated), is an understatement.  And the short-term treatment, – lots of cutting out, is even more disheartening.

Just messin

tj and erbse in the vineyard

Weekend fun.  A hot summer day. Even the parrots wanted sun hats, they seemed to suggest.  They sat in the shade of the vines, mostly.  The border of that shade marked on the hot ground was so solid for them, they looked at it and refused to step over it into the sun. They tend to do things on their terms :o).

picture quiz round

Here are three possible descriptions for the pictures below and the correct allocation can be discussed over the next glass of Green Feather Wine:

a) our vineyard jungle before the sort-out
b) our vineyard (jungle) after the sort-out
c) the neighbour’s all-tees-crossed-and-all-iis-dotted- approach to keeping the vineyard groomed.

despite the dry weather, the nonstop growth of vines and weeds pose a challange and the different responses (tractor or manual, etc) result in very different in appearance :o)

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smoothie power

Eating unripe grapes?  Doesn’t sound tempting.

Pictures and blog post on what we did with the unripe grapes last year can be found here: or “verjus” for the experts.

Getting a smooth smoothy despite the pips is a challenge, but this smoothie operator (see a list here) was up to the job:


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The head is spinning…

Relevant considerations at the moment would be: (1) is there any moisture left in that “Loess”-ground our vines sit in?  (2) Is the tiny windy and pretty weed (“Almwinde”) going to take over our vineyard (no chemicals allowed yo) with its impressive climbing skills?

… which considerations would send our heads spinning, even without any alcohol…

Instead, we watch the parrots, Marzipan and Erbse, react to a different type of spinning action. The washing machine as their new best friend? Oh, it may be a bit scary too.

Carrot Protest

If only all those large protests held in Germany at the moment were about a simple-to-solve question such as  „Are we heading out today?“.

We were not heading out this weekend for more cutting of the vines, due to lurgies and weather (snow).

Nick was out for an „Abstich“ (taking the young wine from the yeast; – the yellowish mud coming out of the barrel in the photo below is the yeast), but that was it.

Bad news for the parrots. I could, of course, be imagining that the shredding of a large carrot was done in protest at not heading out.  it was fun to watch, in particular the skill with which he stopped the carrot from dropping to the floor again and again. The only difficult bit was the other parrot, Marzipan, nibbling on the phone camera, while I was filming the carrot destruction project.

The kitchen has been freed from orange carrot bits; the parrots are grooming; and we can go back to the question how long we intend to leave the 2014 vintage in the vats, before bottling it.

abstich holzfass

parrot and carrot

almost dropping the carrot….. The actual parrot toy would be just behind him, but everything the humans use is much more interesting.

Pleeeease, – can we do some cutting today?

The New Year has started and we want to be out on weekend cutting sessions.  But the weather has had other ideas and we found ourselves dusted in new snow.  We let the pictures tell their story, while we try cutting again.

The sunny but freezing cold day.

A sunny but freezing cold day.


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another day and we were surprised by snow, – and had to leave.

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another day, another attempt at cutting, but….


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… rain strikes and it is time to stop again.

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a special light rig for post-5pm cutting

a special light rig for post-5pm cutting