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Thursday, March 17, 2011

DAY 62 - MENDOCINO WINE COUNTRY, CALIFORNIA

Begin today's update with MARA...Hostess at a Wine Tasting to close out my busy and exciting day.

MARA composes, writes and sings...as one in our small audience said..."..to instantly hush a room"


Walked the Old River Road today, which runs South of Ukiah, California for about 15 miles ending at HOPLAND, California on US 101.


Our first introduction to California Wine Country, Mendocino is referred to as "North Coast" wines, which produce somewhat less grapes per acre than the more Southern Sonoma and Napa Valley vineyards. One Vineyard owner referred to Ukiah Valley as Second Cousin to the more popular growing regions of California.


Nontheless, I found the North Coast vineyards and people to be beautiful to see, interesting to talk to, and gracious as any folks I have met on our walk.



click click to see Brucie Baby in his current walking get up...today, I anticipated rain, but most of the day was intermittent overcast and Sun. This evening, the Moon came out high in the Southern Sky.




Many Vineyards have elaborate signs out front.






Since we are still in Winter, the grape plants are dormant. This is the season for cutting back last-years growth to the basic plant...I call it "cutting the suckers"...although, the growers probably have an elegant name for it.


Nearly EVERY vineyard is indeed elegant...Gometric...Perfect...pleasing to look at




Yesterday, we met the CCC, California Conservation Corps. My pic of Linda was washed out from all the rain on my camera, so this morning, I drove back to their "camp" and asked Linda for another photograph...please, meet Linda...Coordinator for member activities, schooling, and growth during the 1-year stay at the Mendocino Camp on the Old River Road, Ukiah, California.





A Vineyard Home on Old River Road.




Water is crucial to Wine Grape Farmers. Those who remember the TV Show, FALCON CREST, will remember just how important water is.


Nearly every Vineyard included a suitably sized pond - in some cases, lake - to assure water is available.


Look closely at the individual Vines...near the roots - or sometimes a foot or so above ground - runs a pipe delivering water to EVERY vine directly at the roots. Appears not a drop is wasted.



Individual Vines, showing "suckers" being trimmed as I walked by. The horizontal line above the ground is a small water pipe, delivering precious water to each plant.




Other things are farmed in Mendocino - including the newly "legal" (some cal it POT).


A Vineyard under the Mendocino Hills - looking Southwest.




Vineyards are a thing of beauty and efficiency.




The Geometry of Vineyards is absolutely PERFECT.

Look in any direction...each and every plant is aligned with every other plant in straight lines at all angles...no matter in what direction or from what angle one looks.




With all the branches and leaves gone for the dormant Winter season, one can easily see the great precision of each plants preparation for maximum later growth and efficiency.


And, all this work is done by hand...one branch...one ribbon at a time tied just to to train and hold the entire plant in the place with ultimate care and precision.


I found it to be breath-taking.


I was hoping to get in on a work crew to actually do some plant work...not yet...but will keep trying.



The metal "frames" which support the endless rows of plants.


Note the water pipes for each row.





This Wild Turkey was frantic. High "chicken wire" fences surround most Vineyards. This lady somehow ended up on the wrong side of the fence. I walked back two hours later...spoor Baby was still trying to find a way to the other side...her mate was calling calling calling...


Came back by with SPIA a bit later...she was nowhere to be seen.


Saw another pair also...they were actually flying across the road in front of me while I walked along the Old River Road.



Please meet Patrick (right) and Son Randy, owners of vast tracts of Vineyards, Bartlett Pear Groves, and pastured animal's up on the Mendocino Hills.


Their family first came to California in 1850...homesteaded the Talmage just East of Ukiah, and have remained. Many Ukiah Valley Ranches are family owned. Trees planted in 1858, Randy tells me, are still producing fruit.


Richard is 74...upset, I think, because I was older than him.


Thanks, guys for your hospitality...you, of course, a major reason for my walk.



Also a major crop in the Ukiah Valley is Bartlett Pears. This is a small portion of the orchard cared for by Richard and Randy.



This is a field of Wine Grape Vines during the cutting operation of the "suckers"
The vines on the right are completed...
The vines on the left of the photograph are waiting to have their trimming.


This Vine in this photograph is a single plant. It has been trained to reach out in both directions along a tightly stretched wire. The water pipe can be seen just below the limbs.
The plant is securely tied to the wire with plastic ribbons...about 8 or 10 to each branch.
All this is hand labor. Hundreds of individual plants in each row of the Vineyard. Thousands of individual plants in the Vineyard...
And the entire Ukiah Valley is covered with such Vineyards.
Love to be here to see the vines grow...the grapes to appear...the juice to be transformed into the famous California Wines.


Here is a single grape vine...trimmed, tied, and elegantly displayed between the two white posts of one of Fester's Vineyards.



Preparation complete...now we wait for Mother Nature to do her thing.




Those small white posts are actually pipe-like protection placed around newly planted Grape Vines...



This Pergola - Grape Vine Covered area - is the entrance to the 6-month old Company of Greg and Anna, supported by their Core Cast of MARA, TOM, JILL, ALLEN, AUSTIN, AND JUAN.
I walked into this majestic setting in response to a "Wine Tasting" sign out on the Old River Road"...adding another notch onto my Stock of Life.
Oh, the wine tasting went just fine. Choosing from four of the really good Wineries from Ukiah Valley, this small cast of folks are creating a "destination" for wine lovers and real "lovers" too.
The 50 acre grounds are like a Campus, complete with fish ponds, fruit orchards, vegetable gardens, professional kitchens (where TV shows have been filmed), and reservations or 11 of the 12 Months of the year for Weddings already on the books.

Each Cast Member has their own private "home" on the grounds.
And they all welcomed SPIA, SAM & ME with open arms. SPIA set up camp in the driveway of Allen's home - complete with electricity and home cooked dinner (thank you Allen & Austin).
Thomas worked out a simplified walking program for Me to follow in the morning to Cloverdale and has prompted me in nutrition and physical health...having tutored Triathalon competitors when he is not himself out bicycling the countryside.
and Mara...pouring each "taste of wine" with knowledgeable insight...and not least, filling the Tasting Room with soft music from her guitar and herself....
I recorded a number Mara wrote and performed...will try to attach the recording to this blog.



The Convention House, site of numerous TV Cuisine Shows (Julia Childs, for example)



Delicacies are growing throughout the "Garden" area, where entertaining and Weddings can be held, complete with organic fruits, flowers, and vegetables grown along the walking paths of the Garden.



Remaining Winter veggies...Thomas dragged me through his garden, plastic bag in my hand, coming out with at least 3 dozen delicacies for tonight's dinner salad.


The Convention Building overlooking the Garden Lake - fishing is also possible.


In all, I had a full and rewarding day.
DAILY REPORT: Walked 24 miles today - count 12 miles
SEE YOUR IMPACT.ORG: Credit 12 miles @ $0.02 = $0.24 for the day.
Tomorrow, Allen will drive me at 7:00 am to the town of CLOVERDALE, California. I will walk back to HOPLAND, California - mostly on US 101.
Then, will drive SPIA South to Cloverdale and arrange a route to walk to GYERSVILLE, California, where we will pick up Hwy 128 for CALISTOGA, California.


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