San Diego Magazine Feature

Shelley Metcalf's Photo of our Home and Vineyard Last fall at harvest time, our gifted architect, Bill Bocken  brought his partner, Paul Adams, a talented San Diego landscape designer, and his amazing photographer, Shelley Metcalf to photograph our home for the first time since the completion of our home remodel.

San Diego Magazine took notice and features Metcalf's photos, article written by Kimberly Cunningham in their January 2014 San Diego Magazine feature "Design: Living" article Accidental Winemakers.

This article features many indoor and outdoor photos depicting our home, property, and lifestyle. Cunningham cleverly added the feature "Get The Look" for resources and details that brought our design and style together.

Shelley Metcalf in Action

I wrote extensively on our remodel progress as it was literally unfolding in a quick ten months. For more reading on our remodel, please go to Remodel Project.

What a great way to start 2014!

Composting with Grape Pomace

DSC_0971 I'm a firm believer in backyard composting. I love the idea of recycling what you have from your own garden, property, and kitchen scrapes into your own personal compost recipe. It is especially important to compost when you have backyard chickens. In fact, I really delve into this subject of backyard composting and backyard chickens in my book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens for Dummies. See also my previous post, How To Compost In Your Backyard.

I call backyard composting a personal compost recipe of your life, because it is the layering of greens and browns, essentially by-products of your cooking, gardening, and property which create this custom compost mixture. My husband, John, and I have a small backyard vineyard. We use the grape pomace in our compost each fall. Grape pomace is the skins, seeds, and stems of the vineyard grapes after the wine making process. Grapes are a form of green or the fire that heats up the compost mixture, where the browns such as our chicken bedding, or rice hulls is considered the browns and fuel for the compost. Grape pomace heats up our compost to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, an incredible temperature for a backyard compost mixture. Composting with our grape pomace creates a rich organic material called humus, which will go back into our garden soil, and flowerbeds.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit Annie's Annuals and Perennials with my fellow garden bloggers attending the three day San Francisco Fling. One of the highlights of this three day adventure was Richmond east bay nursery, Annie's Annuals and Perennials. If you are ever in the Bay Area, make a visit to Annie's Annuals. A truly incredible nursery. Plants can be purchased online and shipped, too. While visiting Annie's Annuals, I noticed a sign and display, that grape pomace is one of her favorite compost materials.

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This was the middle of summer, and not Halloween, as this sassy and colorful mannequin greeted you at the nursery entrance. I can only imagine how she is costumed this week, two days before Halloween!

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Annie and I know a good thing, composted grape pomace. Try contacting your local vineyards in the fall, for possible sources of grape pomace. It is a great way to enjoy the colorful autumn season, maybe have a quick wine tasting, and purchase wonderful grape pomace for your backyard composting.

DDM Harvest & Bottling 2013

DSC_0691 Here at Domaine de Manion we are especially grateful for the family and friends who help us harvest the grapes from the vines, sort the grapes before crushing, and share a delightful dish. This year, we had a bit of a heat wave right before our intended harvest, and so had to scramble and bring the grapes in a week earlier. We had a record yield of 860 pounds of beautiful fruit clusters which reached a desired 25.5 brix, or sugar percentage.

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The fruit looked beautiful, dark, and inky as syrah should be. We quickly look at the luscious grape clusters on a sorting table before they are scooped up, destined for our grape auger which gently squeezes and destems them before putting them on dry ice for about two days to extract their skin color. The grapes are then brought back to room temperature, a pre-determined yeast is carefully added, and the fermentation process begins.

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A week later, we invited everyone for bottling and more celebration. Situated under our huge Torrey Pine tree providing shade, we had a huge assembly line of able and willing helpers, filling the bottles, corking, labeling, and boxing all of last year's vintage which had been carefully aged in kegs the entire previous year. We had a total of 37 cases, when we finished and broke for a huge "Bottling Potluck" and a little Domaine de Manion wine.

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Thanks again everyone, for all of your help and enthusiasm!