Posts tagged Domaine de Manion
Purposeful Pruning of a Vineyard

VintageGardenGal Pruning The Vineyard My husband, John, and I like to have our backyard syrah vineyard here in Southern California pruned by early February or Super Bowl time frame. It is a necessary and important annual task for the vineyard. At this point in the year, the vines are dormant and barren with no leaves to be seen. The vineyard has its own structural beauty showing the trunks and cordons of each vine.

The pruning task at hand is trimming last years shoots, that have matured into canes back down to the fruiting zone of the vines cordons or arms. If you look carefully you can see and count the buds along last year's canes, close to the cordons. There is usually one bud underneath, and more buds follow on the top side. Count one, two buds on top side of mature cane, close to your cordon. Trim at a 45 degree angle an inch away from the second bud. Mature canes trimmed to the two top-sided buds become your new fruit spurs on your cordons. It is ideal to have fruit spurs straight and perpendicular to your cordon arm, and towards the front or the cordon for better sun exposure.

Pruning is a technique that kicks off the entire grape growing season once again, for the year ahead. It is also time to review each vine. It takes some time, because each vine needs to be assessed. Do you have your 4-5 fruit spurs on each cordon. Are your fruit spurs about a "closed fist" length apart. Are there any dead wood parts of the cordon which should be trimmed off. Do you need to pull a mature cane over and create a new cordon, replacing a cordon that is not doing well. Are your fruit spurs out of the central "v" area of your vine. I call it "purposeful pruning".

Your time invested now in meticulous pruning yields all kinds of benefits this coming year such as greater fruit yield, better quality fruit clusters, good canopy management, and allowance for sun exposure and air circulation. Please note there are various pruning techniques for grapevines, not all grapevines are pruned in the technique we use here at Domaine de Manion.

VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme...

The word is out. The 6th Annual Encinitas Garden Festival & Tour is Saturday, April 30, 2011. Save the date! Please go to Encinitas Garden Festival for more detailed information.

Surprise at Orange County Fair

Domaine de Manion Wine Label My husband, John and I had been encouraged to enter our wines in this year's 34th Orange County Fair 2010 Home Winemaker Competition. The Orange County Home Winemaker Competition is larger in number of participants and California geographical representation than the San Diego County Fair Home Winemaker Competition.

Last year's Orange County Fair Home Winemaker Competition had approximately 663 entries from all parts of California. California home winemakers represented in this year's competition were from such places as Healdsburg, Los Gatos, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Temecula, Templeton, Jamul, Olivenhain, San Jose, Walnut Creek, Napa, and many more.

At the Orange County Fair, awards are slightly different from that of San Diego County Fair's Home Winemaker Competition. Double-Gold, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mention awards are offered in each category of wine. One coveted "Best of Show" is given in each wine category.

We entered three of our home-made wines, our syrah (our first vintage from our backyard vineyard), a merlot (a wine we made from grapes we purchased from Dry Creek, Sonoma), and a "merrah" (a wine blend we made up of our own syrah and the merlot). We also entered our two new wine labels in the "wine label" contest. The wine labels were created by our friend and graphic artist Robin Dujanovic.

Our wines placed well and with similar results at the Orange County Fair, as in the  recent 2010  San Diego County Fair Home Winemaker Competition. The  surprising Orange County Fair 2010 results are as follows:

Bronze.....Merlot Syrah........Silver (Our First Vintage From Our Backyard Vineyard) Merrah.....Gold

Wine Glass & Chicken Label, 1st Place Garage Label, 3rd Place

"Le Vin de Garage" Forever Remembered

Our friend and graphic artist, Robin Dujanovic, rdujanovic@aol.com, at last year's harvest asked if she could design a few wine labels for us. We whole-heartedly thank her again for such unique and appealing wine labels which capture the essence and character of Domaine de Manion, "Which came first, the chickens or the vines?"  We know.

Once again, we wish to thank all of our family and friends for helping us throughout the year, and their enthusiasm in our backyard vineyard and wine making efforts. Salut!

Please share what you enjoy the most about your local summer fair?  The food? The rides? The animals? Entering your hobby? The art? The music?

Trifecta at the Fair

 Wine Competition Awards, San Diego County Fair 2010 This past year we have been so busy with our home remodel, I haven't written much about our backyard vineyard, now in its fifth year. With one's own vineyard, life does go on. The grapes need to be tended to, the grapevines do grow, the grapevines flower and tiny grape clusters begin to emerge. The vineyard has its own timetable throughout the year.

We did however, have time to enter three of our wines (and two wine labels) in the "Home-Made Wine Competition" at the San Diego County Fair 2010. This year it was held at the posh "Turf Club" at the Del Mar Race Track within the San Diego County Fair Grounds.

There were approximately 100 participants who entered around 300 wines to be judged in various divisions. It is always a great occasion as we see many wine-making friends, teachers, fellow students from our wine and vineyard classes, and really the who's who of San Diego County amateur and professional wine makers.

Domaine de Manion Bronze, Silver, and Gold Winners

My husband, John, and I entered three of our home-made wines, our syrah (our first vintage from our backyard vineyard), a merlot (a wine we made from grapes we purchased from Dry Creek, Sonoma), and a "merrah" (a wine blend we made up of our own syrah and the merlot). We also entered our two new wine labels in the "wine label" contest. The wine labels were created by our friend and graphic artist Robin Dujanovic.

I was a little anxious, especially with our syrah wine, with all of the years of diligent effort that passed to create this bottle of wine. It now comes down to this pinnacle moment. Not to worry, unbelievably we got a silver for our own syrah. It didn't stop there, we had an incredible afternoon with a clean sweep of awards, and much more. It was a "trifecta" of bronze, silver, gold at the fair.

Merlot....Bronze Syrah.....Silver Merrah...Gold (Best of Class), and coveted Best of Division (includes all Red Blend Wines)

Chicken & Wine Glass Label, 1st Place Whimsical Label Garage Label, 2nd Place, Best Story In a Picture Label

Our friends, Steve and Amy joined us for the afternoon, and to cheer us on as the competition unfolded. We wish to thank all of our family and friends for helping us throughout the year, and their enthusiasm in our backyard vineyard and wine making efforts. Salut!

Please comment on your local summer fair? Please share if you enter your hobby at your local fair.

Sun Sets On "Le Vin de Garage"

Sun Sets On "Le Vin de Garage" Sometimes the hardest part of a home remodel, is letting go of the old. Soon, it will be out with the old, and in with the new. It really is not that cut and dry. We have carefully thought this through, and tipped the scale in favor of our new barn.

In the above photo, is our revered garage named  "Le Vin de Garage," where until recently we made and stored our Domaine de Manion vintages. My husband, John, cleverly tweaked a photo of our "Le Vin de Garage" for our first label. It placed "Fourth Place" in "wine label category" at the San Diego County Fair a few years ago.

John got the "garage idea," one night, when we were watching the movie, A Good Year (Full-Screen Edition), based in Provence, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Russell Crowe in one of his only comedy roles. Based on the book, A Good Year, one of the many books written by Peter Mayle, the endearing plot revolves around a tasty mysterious boutique cult wine. These tasty cult wines called "garage wines" as mentioned in the movie, were from small vineyards, small productions, and often commanding super premium prices.

Our home was originally built in 1930, and we believe this stand alone garage was built a little later in the 1960's. It has to be close to 50 years old. A previous unknown owner took the time to enhance its character, with whales, waves, and crossed oars. If only our "Le Vin de Garage" could tell us some of its colorful stories of the past.

Alas, our garage has served us well over the last ten years, and it is sad to see it go. It does have termite damage from past neglect. When we have a heavy rain it does leak a bit. Now with our remodel plans, it is not in the best location.

Actually our "Le Vin de Garage," is not totally going away. We've decided to re-purpose its best materials in the form of a shed, close to our vineyard. In a way, it will live on, and continue to help us with our vineyard maintenance and vintages.

Our new barn is nearly finished. It has our new wine-making room on its ground floor, with a work counter for testing the wines, storage area for our equipment, and a harvest table. We really have come a long way, from the day we got the idea to plant a vineyard.

Please share if you make home-made wine? Please share how you got started making wine. Please comment on what kind of area or space you devote to making wine.

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Beginning Of A Home Remodel

Domaine de Manion Remodel Autumn is one of my favorite seasons of the year. Normally, I would be sharing so many tips, photos, and ideas with you this season. However, we have embarked on a home remodel this past month which has been many years in the planning, and has already to proved to be an adventure. Since this project is expected to take a year, I thought I would share with you some of the highlights of this remodel as we go along. Don't worry, my roots for this blog are still in the garden.

Our remodel vision was to create a home which was more comfortable, more energy efficient, an enhancement of our views, and to integrate our home and garden more fully. It's a little bit scary. It's a little bit fun. It's a little bit unknown. Please follow along with us, my husband and me, on our journey as our Domaine de Manion remodel unfolds. Yes, our "Hollywood girls" and "French girls", aka our beloved hens, are fine and are enjoying all the new freshly turned dirt and excitement.

Our spanish style home was originally built in 1930, and was one of only three homes back then in the area, all the way to the Pacific Ocean a mile away. Our home sits a top a gentle rising coastal ridge about 300 feet above sea level. A massive mature Italian Stone Pine and Torrey Pine tree dominate our home and property, and act as subtle protectors. We're saving our charming home and pushing out on its west side and south side. We're building a stand alone "barn" which among other uses, will have a wine-making room.

I keep saying to myself, to embrace the journey as much as the destination.

Have you gone through a home remodel? Do you have any tips to share? Please comment on your remodel experience.