Good morning from southern Arizona. We are crawling ever so slowly out of our winter season here, and the first activities of our spring season are just now starting to bubble, as we prepare for the color, warmth and sunshine to again fill our desert home. This is an interesting time of year when we assess the damage of the winter freeze, prepare for replanting in April and sharpen our pruning shears. The cold mornings here are spent outside in the remote reaches of Cochise County, Arizona in the wee hours at first light discussing pruning strategy in Spanish over hot coffee and a warm mesquite campfire, and we bundle up, put on our well-worn leather gloves and head out to the fields to tame our grapevines for bud break. The beauty of the morning is incredible out there, as we watch the sun break over the Dos Cabezas mountains & old Mexico and shower our valley with the light of day.
It’s also a great time for both reflection and looking ahead. The cold is everywhere around us, but the warmer season is ahead and we know the now-dormant, still field of woody grapevines is about to set off on a race that will fill the field with massive blooms, foliage, a sea of bright green leaves and heavy, hanging grape clusters as far as the eye can see. This is where wine comes from – it starts in these cold, spartan and remote expanses of southeastern Arizona, with hardworking folks tending to the vine’s every need. And so, with cold in mind and as our colder months pass behind us, I want to share with you some cold-weather pictures that are both interesting and will be fun to look back on when we’re out working in the 108F degree heat in July… but first, an update on our new tasting room in Willcox …
FLV’s Willcox Tasting Room – Floor Nearly Finished, Mesquite Tasting Tables DONE!!!
It is very hard to believe, but the historic floor at the old Headquarters Saloon in downtown Willcox is almost done. Literally, we are putting wax on it now and buffing it to a beautiful sheen. I’ve attached a closeup picture showing the old floor’s texture, as well as the finished look of the sealer and urethane. The wax will dull this shine down and smooth it out to a really nice, warm glow. A lot of the old floorboards were badly eaten by termites, so we treated those areas with termite killer and filled in the pinky wood with an epoxy & sawdust filler. To stabilize the floor, we used bracing I-beams underneath it and screwed the pieces on down. It’s ready to go!
Also, recall in a previous blog posting we discussed and sent out some pictures of the raw mesquite slabs we were finishing to serve as tasting tables for the new tasting room. They are now finished, and you ought to see the finish on these slabs of wood. UNREAL. We bought two slices of mesquite from a very rare log. Mesquite just doesn’t grow straight, and rarely do you get a piece this size (which is why a lot of mesquite tables are pieced together to form a large, horizontal surface). It just so happened that we wanted these pieces precisely BECAUSE they weren’t straight. Instead, the tree grew at a nice curve, and the slabs of wood we cut from it became a nice, gentle curved table. We book-matched them, so that the two pieces laid out back to back would form a large, nearly 14-foot table that allowed a tasting room manager to pour wine more efficiently. The grain of the pieces is incredible. I am attaching before & after pictures: (a) “Raw Mesquite – Sanded Top.jpg” shows one of the two 2.5″-thick slabs as it looked after a few passes through the massive belt sanding machine. Notice the bark is still on the wood, and there are a lot of cracks, pits and irregularities in the wood; in (b) “Finished Mesquite Pieces.jpg” shows the final, finished pieces – notice, all the cracks are filled, the bark is removed and a beautiful hand-rubbed oil-based finish of Danish oil and mineral spirit is applied. The sheen comes from several smears of lemon oil. These pieces way about 100-lbs each, and they are truly works of art.
Winter Snow in Arizona
Snow in the desert is always a conversation piece, and for us it’s big news. When you live in a cauldron of heat in a land speckled with cactus, coyotes and lizards, the appearance of snowfall is so extraordinary that it dominates everything around you – local news, radio, conversations at work and the web. And so, we wanted to put some of these images into a blog so that we could share the beauty of an Arizona snow with all of our friends. These pictures don’t need much explanation – one is taken through my windshield as I was driving up to the winery in Elgin, and the others are just cool photos I took that morning. In total, they give you an idea of how cold and wintry this area can be at this time of the year, so we hope you enjoy the pictures.
As always, thank you for your interest in our vineyards and winery. We’ve been updating our website over the past weeks, so check out the new look at http://www.flyingleapvineyards.com. We are going to be incorporating our e-commerce platform shortly, so you’ll be able to select and purchase wines online. Also, FLV will be participating and pouring wine at the following upcoming spring events and festivals:
- 12 APRIL, “Eat, Drink & Be Pretty“, Scottsdale, AZ at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, see http://scottsdalefest.org/?post_type=eventpost&p=65, and also http://scottsdalefest.org/?wineries=flying-leap-vineyards
- 13 APRIL, “Chef Wine Dinner“, Scottsdale, AZ … FLV will be paired with J&G Steakhouse of Phoenix – see http://scottsdalefest.org/?post_type=eventpost&p=60
- 18 APRIL, “Annual Local Food, Beer & Wine Tasting“, Tucson, AZ at the Lodge On The Desert, FLV will be pouring wine at this local food and wine celebration (see http://www.lodgeonthedesert.com/dining_events.php)
- 18-19 MAY, “Willcox Wine Festival“, Willcox, AZ see http://www.willcoxwines.com/index.html