Fall 2013 Ranch Package

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Hello Friends!  After a busy few days I’m finally sitting down to do some “desk work”.

My next Ranch Package will be distributed to Ranch Club Members at our pick-up party on Saturday, November 2nd from 1-4pm.  The Ranch Package for Fall 2013 will be a 25lb box of All-Natural Grass Fed Beef and 6 bottles of Mighty Nimble wine (3 bottles 2011 Rock Candy, 2 bottles 2011 Fruit Tramp, 1 bottle 2011 Small Black).

To become a Ranch Club Member, all you have to do is purchase a Ranch Package…Simple!  Ranch Club Members receive complimentary tours and tasting at the winery, 20% discount on wine purchases of 6 bottles or more, and advance notice of special events.

Non-members can purchase beef or wine individually.  A 25lb box of Grass Fed Beef costs $275, and the wines are priced as follows: 2011 Rock Candy $32/bottle, 2011 Fruit Tramp $36/bottle, 2011 Small Black $65/bottle.

If you would like to place an order you can do so now by emailing me at Hilary@mightynimble.com.  I will take orders until September 28th, 2013.  I only harvest the number of steers needed to fill orders, so I usually don’t have any leftover beef to sell.

The pick-up party is a lot of fun, with great food by Chef Jed Lachance and plenty of Mighty Nimble wine.  And no promises, but I might be able to encourage an appearance by renowned western artist Bob Coronato, creator of the buckin’ bronco that appears on the Mighty Nimble label, and his lovely wife, Lisa.

Attendance at the pick-up party is complimentary for Ranch Club Members, and $30 per person for guests.

I am so appreciative of all the encouragement and excitement from all of you.  Thank you for supporting our family farming operation!

Afton Field Farm

By the time I take care of my kids, my husband, my meat birds, my laying hens, my dogs, my pigs, my garden, and my clients, there hasn’t been a lot of time left in the day to write.  Notice there is no mention of my vineyard or my wines?  That’s because I’ve run out of time and they are being neglected at the moment.  I’m working that out.

Did I mention that I am now applying sunscreen to my pigs every morning?  Yes friends, and if you have never smeared sunscreen on a pig, you haven’t lived.  Their big, white, floppy ears got really sunburned adjusting to the beautiful California weather.  If you think it takes some serious effort to get sunscreen on your kids, try getting a pig to stand still while you put sunscreen on it’s ears.  Best way I’ve learned is to wait until they are really hungry, feed them, and then do it while they are eating.  Just in case you ever have to do it, now you have a strategy.

Back on topic…Our Oregon road trip to pick up the pigs was so much fun.  We saw lots of really beautiful country.  At the top of my list of things to do was to visit Afton Field Farm in Corvallis.

I had read about Tyler and Alicia Jones and their Oregon farm a few years ago, although I cannot remember where.  I started following Alicia’s blog, which I love!  She is really funny and witty, and the thing I like best is that she is honest!  If something is hard, she says so.  If she has a bad day, she shares that.  She is down-to-earth and real.  Those are qualities that are important to me.

I was bummed that we didn’t get to meet them (they were out of town when we visited), but we did meet Tyler’s brother, Kyle, and we checked out their farm.  Really beautiful.  And they are doing an amazing job of growing healthy food in a family farm setting while being conservationists at the same time.  It is easy to see that their animals are really well cared for.  They were all so curious and friendly.  Check out the little pig snout peeping out of the fence in the photo below.  It is important to me to know that the animals that I raise for food had a great life while they were with me.  It was easy to see that Tyler and Alicia and the Afton Field Farm crew feel the same.

One of the cornerstones of their farming philosophy is the health and vitality of their beautiful pastures.

While admiring these pastures on the beautiful afternoon that we visited, I fell in love with Cora and Irene, two of the most personable and charming cows I have ever met.

Tyler and Alicia rotate their animals on these vibrant pastures in a way that is optimal for the animals and the land, and provides the healthiest conditions for the animals.  You could really spend a lot of time talking about this one important aspect of their farm alone, and I’m afraid that I am not educated enough about it to do it justice in this short blog post.  If you want to learn more you should check out the Afton Field Farm website and read about Tyler’s experience at Polyface Farm where he learned the finer points of pasture raised food from Joel Salatin himself.

It is really hard work to have a farm like this, and I think that most people don’t understand that.  So many people take for granted that they can just rock up to the grocery store and buy a big ol’ pork chop.  Guess what folks?  Somebody, somewhere worked really hard to get that food to you.

One of the things that struck me about their farm is that they are happy to share what they know with colleagues and customers, and I really believe that what they are doing is so important.  They have an “open door” policy…these are generous people, guys.  If you happen to be in the area check them out and support their family farm.  They host some really cool events as well.  I wish I didn’t live so far away…

Thing One and Thing Two…Multiplied

If you are wondering what has kept me from writing lately, I’ll share them with you.  They started out as Thing One and Thing Two…

These big white boxes hold fermentations I named "Thing One" and "Thing Two"

and then multiplied to Things 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

Thing One and Thing Two make up the entire Syrah component of Vintage 2011 for Graves Winegrowers.  We had a devastatingly low yield this year.  I had to purchase fruit for the first time in years to make up for it.

Thing Two is a Syrah-Viognier coferment.  This means that I put Syrah and Viognier together in the same vessel to ferment at one time.  There is only a small amount of Viognier in it, but I am interested to see how it turns out.  It looked like this when I first brought the fruit into the winery.

Syrah-Viognier Coferment

Thing One is just Syrah.  Look how beautiful it is!

Syrah

The winery is now full to the rim with ferments.  You can barely even walk between them there are so many.  After the Syrah I brought in Grenache, Mourvedre and, for the first time, Cabernet.  I’m really excited about adding the Cabernet to the line-up.  Here is a picture of the calm before the storm.  Everything was so shiny and clean!  Not now.

Another harvest shot I’d like to share, this photo shows step one of the process when we bring the fruit into the winery.  This is how we get the fruit out of picking bins and into the fermentation vessel.  The workers are sorting through the fruit, removing anything that is less than perfect.

Doesn’t look so hard you say?  Well, let me take you through a day in the life of Hilary Graves during harvest.  Up at 5am to pack lunches for school, run some laundry, put a chicken or some beans in a dutch oven to cook real slow all day so that there is something for dinner.  Feed and water chickens, turkeys and dogs.  Leave at 6am to get a crew started picking grapes at 6:30.  Sometimes my husband can stay home with the girls in the morning to get them ready for school but if he can’t my mom comes over.  Back at 8:30 to drive the kids to school and drop them off.  Over to the winery for morning winery work.  Harvested fruit arrives sometime during the day and I put it in cold storage if I cannot process it immediately. Pick the girls up at school at 3pm, drive to swim practice  or sewing class which is from 3:30-4:30.  Then drive home.  Pick up eggs, feed the kids, do homework.  Bedtime at 8:30 for the girls, then back to winery to process fruit or do evening winery work.  It’s crazy!

I’m starting to feel like my life is getting back to normal although I still have one ferment left to manage at the winery.  Everything else has been pressed and is resting in barrel.  Overall I am really happy with the wines for Vintage 2011.  They are going to be great, but available in small quantity due to the tiny yields.

I hope to be back to posting a little more regularly now.  Happy weekend!

Portsmouth, NH

Loved this town! If it was required, I could live here (possibly. Ok maybe not in the winter.) Beautiful buildings.

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Artsy feel around town.

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With the added bonus of lots of great shops where I picked up a pair of Frye boots and an aqua blue kitchen colander. Finished the day across the border in Kittery Maine for late lunch at Bob’s Clam Hut. Found it on roadfood.com. It was great!

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Stuck at airport in San Diego

Well I guess there are worse places to be marooned! Our beloved JetBlue has let us down. Our flight is delayed 4 hours. We have now crashed the party at the Sheraton across the street where we look like a homeless family with bags taking over the hammock in the common area. Thinking that we will hop on the hotel shuttle to return to the airport. Too bad we don’t have swimsuits in our carry on bags-we could be lounging at the pool drinking BFRD’s.

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