Vintage 2015 Update: Napa and New York

I’m in Napa this week checking in on the rapidly progressing vintage 2015. After one serious frost event this season a couple of weeks ago the vintage seems to be off to an otherwise not so bad start. Right now the shoots are between 10-14″ long and most varieties are blooming with the one exception of Cabernet which is just getting started. There was a bit of rain late in April which threatened to make trouble however it didn’t last very long (both fortunately and unfortunately depending on if your greatest worry is the crop or the drought). A quick run up into the 90s on Friday surprised everyone and those that had sprayed sulfur right before May have had some burning due to the quick heat spike. The weather today is a normal Bay Area foggy morning that will clear up to a sunny and warm afternoon, a trend with should continue for the foreseeable future. The vintage is currently running ahead due to an early bud break similar to last year. By all accounts Napa seems to be ok for water this year just getting enough rain this past season to keep the wolf from the door so to speak. While I’m not watching any particular vineyard out here now, I plan to keep you updated on the vintage progress.

In New York, we haven’t hit bud break yet. The trees have started blooming in earnest putting everyone on allergy high alert. We are seeing buds swelling now so we start to hope for minimal frost after the tough winter. Many growers are leaving extra buds to compensates for the winter damage however many of the Finger Lakes growers that I’ve spoken with say their vinifera came through fine. In some cases the snow pack was so high it reached the fruit zone and provided additional temperature moderation to protect the graft, trunks and buds. The weather has been warm with softly cool nights in the high 40s and low 50s. Hopefully that trend continues but overall we are behind about a week.

I’m Not Defending the Millennial Generation Any More


The above is a picture of the actual Oregon Trail ruts in Wyoming.  Picture from here.

Quite a while ago I wrote a post about “Who are the Millennials? Generally, I was trying to defend the amazing generalization that the media had been painting about people born during a huge 20 year timeframe.

I’ve never agreed with the lumping that many years into one Generation particularly if you look at the rapid change in technology over that time frame.  In my post I tried to hold on to the Millennial status and make an argument that the generation behind us should be the “Wired” generation.  Those that were born from 1986-2000.

Then this week I read this post “The Oregon Trail Generation: Life Before and After Mainstream Tech.” She’s basically saying the same thing I was however what I really like is that he is shedding the Millennial title and adopting a new one.  We are naming ourselves as a Generation and I LOVE it!  Who in my small range of a “micro Generation” doesn’t remember sitting down to computer lab and agonizing over the decisions to take extra food or another wagon axel before setting out to conquer the Green and Black dot matrix American West!

Our age range of the micro Generation is very similar. This excerpt from my post…

“Millennials are people who came of age during the 2000 millennial change so anywhere between 14-22 years of age on January 1st, 2000. We are old enough to remember a time pre Internet but young enough to not remember a time before computers. This may seem trivial but we are the last generation that can say that the Internet did not exist in our lifetime. We did not grow up with the instant access to information via cell phones and mobile technology although we adapted quickly enough when it came along. The generations behind us may never know the weight of 5 volumes of the encyclopedia britannica while trying to write notes on index cards.”

Then her post…

“We used pay-phones; we showed up at each other’s houses without warning; we often spoke to our friends’ parents before we got to speak to them; and we had to wait at least an hour to see any photos we’d taken.  But for the group of kids just a little younger than us, the whole world changed, and that’s not an exaggeration.  In fact, it’s possible that you had a completely different childhood experience than a sibling just 5 years your junior, which is pretty mind-blowing.”

So here we are, the micro generation.  The generation with roots in the glorious American heyday of the pre-9/11 era and the reality of growing into adults during the post-9/11 wars and recessions.

Will marketer’s care about our 6-8 year generation as they court the much larger Gen X or now the Millennial Generation behind us?  Maybe the generation I’ve been trying so hard to defend is not actually my generation at all.  From here on out my allegiance is Oregon Trail Generation!  I definitely relate to all of this generation’s generalizations!

Taking a Chance: One of the Best Decisions of my Life.


Last week, I went to the one place on earth that I can honestly say I found my people. Most of my biographies mention my degree from Cornell which I am exceptionally proud of but what most of them fail to mention is that I would have never been at Cornell if it weren’t for my time in the Horticulture Department at Morrisville. In 2002, I transferred to SUNY Morrisville, now known as Morrisville State College (That’s State University of New York for the outside of New Yorkers). There are moments in one’s life that set the course for the rest of it. My decision to leave South Carolina when all of my friends were staying and travel to a place pretty much alone (my now husband was 45 minutes away) was daunting but it was one of the best decisions of my life.
In the amazing greenhouses, I learned to care for so many plants. I learned that in each tiny cell, there is the ability to create a whole new plant under the right conditions. I learned that I could make a hibiscus bloom three different colors. Most of all, I learned that there were people that were as passionate and excited about plants as I was and accepted me completely for the quirky, anxious, awful dresser, older than my years person that I was at 19. I had a one track mind, completely focused on roses. I wanted to grow pretty things. Flowers that would make people smile and bring color to a house or even a room. I had worked in a floral shop for my first year of college and the fun of floral design is something I have kept my toes in throughout my career. The teachers in the Horticulture Department encouraged me to look beyond that single species. What I found was grapevines, and that love affair has driven my entire career. They encouraged me to go to Cornell. They showed me that I could be more than I had imagined. They became my family and support structure. They cared.
Walking back into Spader Hall last week after being gone for 12 years I was struck at how little it had changed. The smell of soilless potting mix hit me as soon as I opened the door. The greenhouses still has the moist but sweet scent of humidity, damp earth, water on tile floors and the slightly metallic smell that makes up a greenhouse. My professors welcomed me back with open arms and we talked about what had transpired in the past years. I met a student which could have easily been me over a decade ago and I couldn’t help but wonder where life would take her after she was launched out into the world by the catapult of graduation.
I graduated top of my class in 2003 with a 3.99 GPA only kept from being perfect by a 1 credit hour microbiology lab in which I received an A-. No one has ever asked me about my grades and after working my tail off to achieve it I learned sometimes it is better to relax and enjoy life rather than strive for perfection.
Even now, whenever I walk through a vineyard, there are times when my mind is not on the fruit, but it is on my first love, the vines. Bright green leaves facing up to the sun. Tiny tendrils reaching for something to grasp. Shoots unfurling with miniature cloths covered in a fine coat of silken hairs. To me, they are incredible. The vines are the reason I do what I do and I would never have found that love if I hadn’t taken a chance so many years ago to find a place where people understood my passion.