parrots

Herbst (Autumn)



Herbst.

An important period in a vintner’s yearly cycle. Unless you believe that cutting the vines in winter has more influence on what you harvest than the harvest itself.

Herbst.

A staccato mention of “Herbst” (and the other seasons, Herbst-Winter-Fruehling-Sommer) is part of the theatre play that Nick is part of at the moment, – a tale on how to remember a friend that is no longer around. On at the Mollerhaus Theatre in Darmstadt and in various schools.  There’s another theatre link: Green Feather Wine can be enjoyed at the Zuckmayer play (Carl Zuckmayer being from Nackenheim in Rheinhessen and thus neighbour to the grapes that made it into Green Feather Wine; Carl Zuckmayer probably ringing a bell in the Marlene Dietrich-context, if not otherwise) “Die Fastnachtsbeichte” at the Neue Buehne in Arheiligen.

Herbst. Winter.

The play gives you an idea that our autumn season was different (see below). As for winter, our wine will be at the Bessunger Christmas Market/Weihnachtsmarkt 2017:

Forstmeisterplatz, Darmstadt, Dec 1-3 and Dec 8-10. Till 8pm. (Fridays from 4pm; Sat/Sun from 2pm)

How was our autumn different? We took stock. I tried to learn new skills in a big vineyard (hence the red wine pic; – even the vineyards looked pink), we both got the chance to let it all sink in. Only when the wine hasn’t been such a prominent feature (feather, the spell check wanted to say, funny) for a few days, could I take it out of the fridge and taste it with an open mind, as opposed to the burdened-with-worry mind I adopt so easily.

“We did that?” – And: can I enjoy the “We did that?”.  And: can I enjoy the many more questions about our wine, thanks to a very touching write-up by journalist Franziska Neuer in this publication.

Germany is very focused on qualifications, so doing something to a high standard without the obvious qualification is alien to many people.  I can respond by throwing in lots of details about thiols; by recalling the longing for a glass and a pipette in a restaurant to cuvee the different raw reds together; or by simply learning to enjoy when Green Feather customers are happy and excited about the bottle I hand over to them. We hope to do this many times in Bessungen. See you there!

 

Vineyard update

Our current work in the vineyard resembles a fight with a big octopus (and if you think this sounds like an exaggeration I grant you that). All these long fragile shoots (as in, the octopus legs) have to be fed into an enclosure made of wire, so as to create a ‘wall of leaves’.  A wall that will eventually be home to the grapes (blossom happening at the moment).

spot the two orange heads

spot the two orange heads

I have never tested the fragility of actual octopus legs, but the stuff or shoots we are ‘fighting’ with is pretty fragile, so, yes, there is a fair amount of swearing, if another one bites the dust.  And if we don’t break them, the tractor will: you can probably picture it quite easily how the tractor will rip off any shoots that refuse to go into the wired enclosure and instead try to crawl along the ground.  The ‘wall of leaves’ we create helps the wind breeze through, thus stopping the spreading of the dreaded fungus, and makes the spraying more effective. With any scepticism towards the spraying, bio or conventional, it seems even more important that whatever concoction is applied, it hits its targets, ie the leaves, and doesn’t just ‘enrich’ the air.

The parrots were with me for this task last weekend and seemingly split the tasks between them: Erbse was ‘in charge’ of the ground or the vine stems, whereas Marzipan preferred the leaves. While they might seem like vineyard-pros by now, they have not yet confirmed their participation in the Loerzweiler wine-festival (July 5-8, 2013).

erbse weinberg heften

Green Feather goes Pecha Kucha

The third Darmstadt Pecha Kucha Night on 21 June 2013 at CoWo21 (21 slides of 21 seconds each on 21st at 21h, get it…) offered thoughts on the lives of inventors, philosophers, app-developers, sustainability-in-blanket-wrappers, creatives, development-aid-thinkers, – and dogs. OH yes, and thoughts on wine. You can watch the video of the six Pecha Kucha presentations on the CoWo21 site. But if you prefer to look at the slides, as opposed to the person presenting, a video of the Green Feather 21 June pecha kucha presentation is available here, in German and English.  The parrots weren’t there.  They were busy with the watering can (which is a lie, of course, chronologically). 🙂

Vineyard Friends plant vines

Time to reflect on yesterday’s bank holiday when I was joined by a few friends to re-plant missing vines: When I left home this morning, my view of the wing mirror was obstructed by a little red dot: a pomegranate pip as it turned out, still stuck to the mirror, even after a few kilometers on the motorway. A nice reminder of yesterday’s fun action in the vineyard, the pomegranate pip left behind by two snacking parrots climbing around the car, with Marzipan observing our vineyard-hole-digging action from his most favourite perch ever: the steering wheel. Yes, they were also sitting between the vines conducting no doubt a very thorough “ground investigation” with their beaks on the soil that came out of the planting holes, but every parrot needs to take a rest from such strenuous tasks. And their most strenuous activity came at lunch time, as we sat down for a well-deserved picnic: climbing from one person to the next, the parrots tested which human offered them the best chance of getting a crumb of Astrid’s yummy cake; or, for that matter, shoes they could nibble on. (In fact, Frank’s shoes could no longer be nibbled on, the clay-like soil, “Loess” as it is called, had already been the last nail in his shoe coffin.)

gepflanzete rebe hochstamm

Foto by Frank Rein

If you picture what we did all day long to plant 62 vines, you might have in your head the kind of image of a local politician smiling into the camera with his or her foot on a spade to mark the thrive in new development in the local area. Yes, we did that, 62 times, just without the suit and the cameras. (in fact, Jula did take amazing pictures, but my camera could not muster the energy to record them. )

But this day was about so much more than that: a very special day of ‘things’ coming together in an amazing way: ‘people’ coming together in a remote field based on instructions scribbled on a map; ‘plants and equipment’ coming together, ie reaching Darmstadt ahead of the bank holiday (-it was very close).  Time and time again I observed a beaming sensation written into faces looking up while arms moved through soil in zen-mode; and the same sensation voiced several times during the day (“Das ist sooo schoen!), even as our energy faded.

By then we had also driven almost 300 l water and 500 kg planting soil up the hill, had “sucked for England/Germany/Austria/Lörzweiler/Darmstadt” to make the water flow from the big tanks stationed in the car into the smaller containers and had chatted with various passers-by.

It was a day on which I felt supported, by the Lörzweiler community as well as by a digging and planting group of friends. A neighbouring vintner took one look at my planting water set up, disappeared and came back with some essential accessories that smoothened our operations, eased our backs. And whether you like management speak or not (our workflow of digging/root removal/planting soil/fungus/plant/pole/ties/watering/closing-up-the-hole could have easily filled 40 powerpoint slides, never mind the parrot-related in-between-steps), it is a fair conclusion that as a team we “stepped up to the plate to streamline our workflow”  :o).

So much for the many content ‘ahhhhhs’  on the day, which continued over a drink in barely-can-speak-mode, once the last spade was squeezed into a seemingly puffed-up-t0-twice-its-size Kangoo (or Kangaroo, as the car was renamed, thanks to Sam 😮 ). The big question now remains whether the 62 plants sitting right now  in the “wellness pools” we have created for them will appreciate the TLC they received from us. “Success rate” (Erfolgsquote) is the term used on agricultural forums, when they discuss how many plants they had to ‘RIP’ out the following years, due to frost, or because the roots did not manage to penetrate the hard ground surrounding the “wellness pool”. This may sound like a long wait for the last and 41st powerpoint slide to be drafted on yesterday’s venture, but if I can post pictures in 2 years’ time, of leaves and grapes on those new vines (“Hochstämme”), then llka, Astrid, Jula, Frank, Sam, Claus and I will know that the sore muscles were all worth it. Will we then still remember the awning we had to set up to find cover from the rain? The worms (earthworm/Regenwurm) we accidentally cut in halves with our spades? The 30-year-old root-block we capitulated on (“Close the hole again, we’ll never get this one out”)? – We will have to see!

traubenwickler falle einbindig

There is a scientific explanation as to how this moth count (“einbindiger Traubenwickler) from the pheromone traps relates to the health of our grapes in autumn, – I am just not sure you would want to hear it :o)

Happy New Year

The Parrots’ approach to the New Year seems to be: Secure your bottle tops early. (Is there a hint in there, I wonder? Bottle tops instead of corks this year?) If you want to watch two minutes of Marzipan and Erbse (two male caiques) playfighting, check out the video below (barely any sound, just some content gurgling noises).  How would you describe those moves? Karate? Feather-shoulder-stands? Contact-improvisation?  Who knows.  But if it put a smile to your face, then it served its purpose: Happy New Year!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq5jAhlv_SA&w=560&h=315]