January in Arkansas bears watching for muscadine vineyard owners. The biggest danger is excessively cold weather, which for us is Zero degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature reaches that critical low or below, the risk is almost certain killing of the roots, killing the plant. One protection can be to “berm up” the ground in the fall, mounding it to try to increase the soil depth at a critical point for the plant. By the way, to berm the ground is a particular skill, using a particular berming hoe behind a tractor. In the spring, after danger of the cold weather, the process is reversed to remove the extra soil.

The good news is that we had one brush with colder weather this month, but the single digits did not make it to the vineyard, and the long-range forecast look promising, with moderated, normal temperatures. So far, so good! After January, the chances for single digits typically are much reduced. Maybe you are hearing a slight sigh of hopeful relief from here!

Heavy rain overnight gave way to a beautiful, strangely warm winter day with dramatic clouds.  When we thought the day could not get prettier, we had sunset reflecting pink hues off the mountain, then a confectionary sunset sky!  



Warm winter day in the muscadine vineyard


Sunset illuminating Ozark Mountains  


Another spectacular Arkansas sunset

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Since the last entry, we have been in recuperation mode from a wild but successful harvest season! Now that we have had hard freezes, we are pruning away in anticipation of 2019 growing season. The most exciting thing, other than holiday preparations, is a recent visit by a bobcat! We know they are around, but we actually got footage of the fellow traipsing across our lawn. We will see what we can do to get a photo up for you. He is a really big fellow and may be the reason our cats have been laying low recently. I hope he is not expecting to be invited to Christmas dinner…

Harvest is imminent!  Harvestor and tractors are serviced, replacement parts restocked.  Bins are in place.  Meeting today to plan timeline.  We need a resident percussion section with drum line to reflect the current mood and drama.  Maybe a playlist will have to suffice?  


Rain, rain!  We love you!   Finally, some excellent, soaking rain over the past 10 days.  The vineyard is happy!  We have flowing creeks, full ponds, happy birds, and happier farmers.  Fall is just around the corner.  We can tell, with some muscadines turning and a few just ripe enough to sample.  Sugargate will be coming on first, we hope by the first of September.  Next will be Carlos, then Noble.  Ed is getting the harvest equipment oiled and in good repair.  We feel a little like athletes getting the gear ready for the race.  Anticipation!

Such a nice week we are having, with a few showers and some lower temperatures!  The grapes are looking good.  The Altus grape festival had perfect weather this weekend.  We have had an array of wildlife this week, topped off with a black bear, second sighting within the month.  We have relocated the game camera to see if the bear is, as we suspect, entering the vineyard.  Drought in the area puts pressure on the vineyard, which is irrigated, so mighty tempting for animals!  We will keep you posted!

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!  


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!!

Muscadine Harvest TIme!!

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!   


Placing bins...


Harvester at sunset, awaiting the day! 

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


July 2017 Thunderstorm near Clarksville, Arkansas @brianemfinger

July 2017 Thunderstorm near Clarksville, Arkansas @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