Happy Summer, all! The heat is on! Local farmers markets, fresh fruit cobblers, ice cream, baseball championship games have us anticipating Independence Day next week. The muscadines look good, and they enjoy the heat, which this week is plentiful. Have a super July 4, and your enjoy time with friends, family, and nature!
Baltimore Orioles... we have eight!
What season is it? The calendar says Springtime, but if we did not know better, we would swear it is Summertime. Hot and sultry weather, evening fireflies, snakes, and hot dogs... hot canines, that is... indicate summer’s arrival, in our view! The muscadine vines have exploded with growth, as has the grass.
A large array of birds are busy eating and building nests. We even have a presence of Baltimore orioles this year!
So far, we have had some periodic rains, but the main focus this week is the irrigation system. The best news is that the irrigation pump worked straight away, for the first time ever following its winter slumber!
We noticed that the first tropical system of the season landed in Florida this week... See, summer is here, folks!
Happy New Year! Our thoughts are with the vineyards and wineries in California who have had to contend not only with the wildfires, but now with the heavy rains and mudslides. Agriculture is hard enough under the best of circumstances. Worry about personal safety of family, friends, and community makes a challenging industry more stressful, particularly for those experiencing losses.
On a brighter note, today was a beautiful day in our vineyard. It took a while for the fog to lift, but the sun broke through, and the temperatures warmed into the low 60's while we proceeded with our pruning. I wonder if the animals and birds know that a bit of snow is forecast for tomorrow... just a dusting, but a plummet in temperatures. We would welcome some snow. We have felt a little cheated that Florida has had more snow than we this season!
Well, it is plenty cold, but mostly anticipating that over the next two days will be even colder. We would not mind some snow to provide some protection to the roots, acting as an insulating blanket. We continue to work at pruning the vines, though the cold weather may drive us in a couple of days. The big birds are around. Eagles and hawks have been more present than is typical. They make for nice company!
Whew! With harvest over, and equipment cleaned and stored., we took a short breather, and now winter preps are underway. Irrigation pipes are drained, rows "bermed-up," and equipment shifted to muscadine vineyard pruning mode.
Before we could even realize it, Christmas is upon us! We are listening to our holiday playlists,, planning our special holiday meals, and finishing our preparations, although the farm work never really ends. Wide temperature fluctuations from day to day dictate much of our schedule.
Sadly, we were too far north to get the big snows that hit the southern United States last week. We cannot help but continue to check long-range forecasts, wishing for our shot at a nice snow, but at least rain! The photos featured this month, so far, are from another year... but hey, worth revisiting for Christmastime!!
Last call for the bronze Carlos this weekend! If any winemakers want Carlos muscadines this year, call to make arrangements for coming to get them!
We are starting to pick Noble (dark red) muscadines. The warm days have made them ripen more quickly than usual, and a cold front with chance of thunderstorms and wind is coming by midweek.
Call Ed Fay at 479-209-2184 to discuss your muscadine needs and arrange a time to get your muscadines.
We continue the prep for Carlos harvest in a few days!
Harvester at sunset, awaiting the day!
Late summer sunset
Enjoying muscadine love in the green grass.
Look how green it is at the end of the summer in an Arkansas September, thanks to abundant rainfall the past six weeks or so. Keeping up with grass control in the vineyard has been a bear, particularly when portions of the vineyard were too wet to mow. Now we are cool and dry, with lows about 50 degrees Fahrenheit this week and highs near 80. But best of all, we have some ripe muscadines! The photos on our gallery show muscadine love by our family and friends! Eating them fresh off the vine is a big treat. Then they make their way home with enough to eat for meals or prepare jams, jellies, and cobblers. Wine- and juice-making friends usually wait for the Carlos and Noble that are ripening more with each passing day!
What a summer! Rain! Belote average temps! Fun stuff. The muscadine vineyard looks terrific. A bit of color is emerging on the Noble.
What a lovely summer! Despite low irrigation pond levels at the end of spring, the rains made up for lost time! Abundant rains and moderate summer heat make us happy to sit on the front porch at 'most any opportunity! One amazing thunderstorm last weekend dropped almost two inches of rain on us. During the process, our friend, photographer and weather chaser Brian Emfinger, caught this breathtaking photo aloft just outside Clarksville, Arkansas, facing our direction. I am willing to bet we were on our front porch when this photo was shot, and we promptly hauled ourselves inside, the strikes were so close! Thanks for permission to share your photo, Brian! You can follow Brian on Instagram and Twitter @brianemfinger
Happy Father's Day to all dads, especially you muscadine-loving dads! So far, the muscadine season promises to be a good one. Some of us recently travelled to the north country-- really north-- where gooseberries thrive. It was novel to taste gooseberries, which was a first for us as southerners. It's always fun to try the local fruit and vegetable specialties when traveling. In Arkansas and the rest of the southeastern states we will have the 2017 muscadine harvests September and October... and until then, we will all enjoy muscadine juices, wines, jellies, and jams, cobblers, ice cream, sherbets, and anything else we can imagine!
Gooseberry with Tart Tartin, artisan vanilla ice cream, and berry reduction. Delectable combination, Le Petit Opus Café, Montreal, Canada
Whoops! Correction in last post... larkspur! Away from editing tools to fix directly...
In other news, we survived major storm threats last night with only some wind issues that are fixable. Some vines blew down. Otherwise, we are good to go!
Strong winds last night.
...after the storm.
Larkspir bloom is at its height this week. We got these shots prior to expected storms this weekend. We do our best to allow the wildflowers to go to seed, and the effort has paid off, with increased patches of these vibrant jewels!
Today the larkspur burst into bloom! Always a welcome sight, we had to stop what during our chores and take a photo to post, relishing the vibrant blues. While driving through the muscadine vineyard today, we noticed many blooming wildflowers growing between the rows and in the surrounding meadows. We are happy for them to seed before the inevitable mowing, eager for the flowers to re-emerge next year!
If a vineyard can smile, ours is smiling for sure! We had abundant rain over the past couple of days. Today is cool and sunny, then another round of major rain predicted for the weekend will do a lot to fill the ponds! We are smiling too!
April showers... we want as many as we can get! The early onset of spring is here in Arkansas, with warm temperatures and early growth. Carlos (bronze) muscadines are blooming this week! We love the green grass and trees and look forward to the growing season!
"Early spring." Sounds wonderful at first blush! When farmers use the term, there is a tinge of anxiety connected. Has there been enough dormancy to impact overwintering insects? Will we get enough rain to fill the ponds before summer heat sets in? And the ever-present drama, will a late freeze, more impactful with early budding and flowering, threaten the peach/plum/pear (pick your fruit!) or grape crop? As muscadine farmers, we worry a tad less about late freeze, since muscadine bloom typically is quite late. Also, muscadines will put on a second, smaller crop if the first freezes. Still, all eyes are on the threatened freezing temperatures for this weekend. Fingers crossed, especially for those peach farmers!
Here is the release featuring Fay Vineyards Muscadines. It's always a pleasure to work with Winemaker Steven Dollar and with John Trickett at Circle T Winery and Vineyards. We also cannot contain our excitement about such an excellent new muscadine offering!