Thursday, March 28, 2019
March in the Vineyard
March came in the arms of sunny days, wind, rain, some severe storms and even snow. The vineyard is still taking its long winter rest. From approximately November to March, the vines are dormant as the sap has retreated into the root system, protection against the harsh Swiss winters. It's pruning season!
Before the growing season starts again, the vines must all be pruned for good reason: fruit only happens on wood that is one year old. So it's important to remember, pruning is not just haphazard hacking but it's hard work that has to be done by hand with great care, experience and intentionality, leaving two buds on one year old wood and cutting out the old wood that would divert vital energy from the harvest.
Viticulturists consider pruning to be both an art and a science shaping the future of the vineyard!
Monday, March 18, 2019
Vineyard Pictures: New Packages and Pricing
Photography has become more important than ever to grab attention on websites, in social media and within emails. I work with clients to find the right style for their produce and show their brands in the best possible light. For wineries I offer a variety of photography services including image retouching:
-Vineyard, Landscape and Plant Photography
-Winery, Winemaking and Viticulture Photography
-Wine and Food Pairing Photography
-Tasting Room and Event Photography
-Bottle Grouping and Isolated Bottle Shots
-Vineyard Animals Portraits
-Social Media Photography
-Art Direction and Storyboarding
90 Minutes - 10 Pictures - CHF 350.-
120 Minutes - 15 Pictures - CHF 490.-
Friday, March 8, 2019
Book recommendation: The Vintner's Daughter
The Vintner's Daughter by Kristen Harnisch is a beautifully written story that comes full circle with a most satisfying and unpredictable ending. The story pulls you into the life and culture of the French Wine Country, New York City and Napa Valley at the end of the 19th century. Harnisch's characters are deep in emotion and personality, her settings are vibrant and full of life and her knowledge of winemaking woven throughout the gripping story was my favorite part!
Sara Thibault's coming of age, from a vintner's daughter to a true vintner herself, through trial after trial, kept me turning pages, fully engrossed in the story. I recommend this book for women who read romance and historical novels and enjoy wine tasting!
The Vintner's Daughter written by Kristen Harnisch
Publisher She Writes Press/ISBN 978-1-63152929-0
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
February in the Vineyard
It's been a while since it really snowed all across Switzerland (rather than just on the mountains). But one morning early in February we woke to a blanket of snow. Clad in thick winter layers, I headed out to the vineyard in admiration for the Narnia landscape that had appeared overnight. After taking photos, the heavy skies collapsed again and more thick white flurries started tumbling towards the ground. What is it about winter wonderland that incites such a sense of magic? What is it about snow that takes us straight back to our childhood, casting aside any inhibitions and immediately inciting a sense of play?
Yes, there's beauty in any weather, but it's not quite the same as a vineyard landscape coated in white.
Meanwhile snow has (mostly) melted, green is taking over again and memories of the enchanting wintry vineyard have already begun to fade away.
Friday, February 15, 2019
Why Vineyard Photography?
Well, I've always been fascinated by all things nature offers us. Specially by all the things that do not display beauty so evidently. Like when I stroll through the vineyard and pass these old and gnarly vines. The transition of their canes from autumnal leaf senescence to the time of pruning and cutoff into final winter dormancy could so easily be overlooked. To me these are the unique moments when a creative approach with the camera can transform subjects from "nothing" into something.
Yes, taking vineyard images is challenging, it takes patience and perfect weather conditions. Only overcast days allow to take pictures all day because the clouds diffuse the intense sunlight, giving an even lighting for me to work with. There is so much to admire about the burgeoning wine scene and I consider vineyards to be highly photogenic locales!
Monday, February 4, 2019
In midwinter some vintners are turning their attention to a late-harvesting version: icewine. This is a type of sweet dessert wine - and ideal companion to tangy cheeses - that can only be produced in cold climates. It's made of frozen grapes still on the vines. The sugars in the fruit, unlike water, do not freeze, so while the grapes themselves are frozen, it's possible to concentrate their flavors when it's time to harvest; this process takes around six hours and can only be done under perfect weather conditions (below minus 7 degrees Celcius are required). The combination of risk, labor-intense winemaking and government regulations are the reasons why icewine is an expensive treat. In some winters, frost may not happen at all, the grapes rot or are otherwise lost. Freezing grapes also creates a naturally lower yield, so there is less icewine in circulation overall making this delicacy rarer and thus even a lot more valuable.
Friday, January 25, 2019
January in the Vineyard
Slight snowfall has transformed the vineyard into an even more magical landscape overnight. Besides the beauty it spreads, snow provides us with two more benefits: the water itself plus the phytosanitary value contributing to the prevention of diseases.
Both snow and low temperatures have the potential to kill off fungi and other parasites hiding inside the roots of the dormant vines. Melting snow, on the other hand, soakes the soil in a very effective manner without causing soil erosion or damages to the plants (as opposed to heavy rainfalls or hailstorms).
The more snow, the more the vineyard is forced into a beneficial rest, while at the same time negative future impacts of various pests are reduced or completely eliminated. Or like the vintners use to say:
"a year of snow is a year of prosperty!"
Monday, January 14, 2019
Hello from a sunny morning in the vineyard!
I have plans for this blog, namely: from this day on, in addition to documenting the transitions of the vineyard from season to season, I'm going to ginger it up with stories of my journey as a vineyard photographer. Sounds boring? I promise: it isn't. There is not one single day passing by without kind of a micro adventure taking place out there.
Vineyard photography is extremely challenging, I'm not only talking about lighting and other technical issues, but also about the minor and major miracles of nature and the incredible beauty that makes a vineyard such an exceptional place that even the best photos most of the times just cannot do justice.
Thanks for joining me!
Monday, December 24, 2018
Have a wonderful Christmas everyone! However and wherever you spend it, I hope you have time to reflect and be thankful for all the good things that have been last year.
Cheers and thanks for reading!
Friday, December 14, 2018
December in the Vineyard
What a difference a few weeks can make! December arrived in the arms of the long needed rainfalls and of a storm that ripped off the remaining leaves from the vines. After a couple of weeks of unseasonably warm weather, extraneous out-of-season growth occured in the plants, but luckily the wintry weather we finally got last week took care of these issues!
The cloudy days we are enjoying now, give everything in the vineyard a soft, diffuse light which makes for quite a contrast to the almost unbroken summer and autumn blue we were used to.
The grape vines worked so hard all year round. Plus they had to struggle with the most severe drought this country has ever seen. And still they gifted us with an incredibly bountiful harvest. Now the vines get ready for their well deserved winter dormancy.
Thursday, December 6, 2018
Turning out sheep (or other farm animals) into the vineyard over winter, when the grass is green and the vines are dormant, has become increasingly popular over the last years. For good reasons, as sheep not only do a great job in weed control and as grass mowers, but also contribute to naturally and sustainably fertilizing soil and vines.
That's what Best Management Practice looks like and to go even further, this is what we call Biodynamic
Viticulture, a philosophy that involves managing a farm holistically as a regenerative living organism. Vines are fertilized using compost created in the vineyard and soils are regenerated naturally through the waste droppings of the animals.
And on top of that: are these wooly weeders not a perfect addition to the vineyard landscape?
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Grapes/Raisins: a truly festive feeder for birds
Fruit specialists such as Robins, Blackbirds or Bullfinches rarely eat birdseed. To attract them, leave some grapes on the bare vines to give birds a natural food source they can rely on during winter.
Raisins can also be offered to all berry-eating birds. For those of you who have their own vines, sun drying or dehydrating a seedless variety of grapes can be a good way to manage a bountiful harvest.
If you decide to buy raisins, just make sure they are sulfite free. Soak the raisins in warm water and chop them up a bit before putting them out, this makes it easier for the birds to peck at and swallow.
Grapes left on the vines or raisins served on a table feeder in a save place are appetizing to the birds and provide them with an important dietary element!
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
November in the Vineyard
Only two words are needed to describe the beautiful scenery: fall foliage. Different grape varieties change colour at different times creating breathtaking views and surprising us with autumnal vineyard treasures.
For me, November is not only a deliciously melancholic season but without any doubt also the most beautiful and most pieceful time of the year in the vineyard.
I thoroughly enjoy those soft, still, dreamy days. Those days to stand still among the fall coloured vines just to soak up the warm, magical light and the blissful quiet surrounding us.
So grab your camera and head to the next vineyard for some incredible photo opportunities! It truly is a photographer's delight!
Thursday, November 15, 2018
The second Life of a Sunflower
Using sunflower heads to feed birds in winter is a sustainable option. Not only are sunflowers easy to grow in almost any type of garden soil and climate, but creating a hanging sunflower bird feeder is a simple and inexpensive hands on activity.
When the sunflowers are well-formed and the heads begin to dry, cut the top quarter off at the stalk and let the flower (of any size) and stalk dry in a cool, open and well areated spot for a few weeks. They are fully dried once the front of the head is a crispy brown hue and the back of the head is yellow.
Once the sunflower has cured, cut off the remaining stem from the flower. Then make a hole near the top of the head using a strong needle and thread parcel twine through it. You can now hang the head on a tree branch for the birds to snack on!
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
How to create that specific Winery Vibe online
Wineries exist for the sustenance of the communities in which they reside. Customers look to your vineyard for news, education, tips, stories and more. Share content that engages your community! What are customers asking? What do they want to know? If you decide on writing a blog, use it to educate your fans about what's in season, provide them with recipes for outstanding food and wine pairings and keep them abreast of upcoming winery events. Talk about what's happening in the world of wines, provide them with beautiful plant portraits alongside the little details to entire photo stories; the right photography reflects so much about your winery - your style, your clientele, your future. If you can attract online visitors and earn their trust with engaging and informational content, they will keep coming back for more! Isn't this a great way to build a sense of community? You need help? Just ask!
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Field Notes: Embracing the Outdoors in Autumn
October is winding down and November is almost here. Personally, I find it baffling when people prefer to hide indoors at this time of year. I love autumn and it's honestly my favourite season for getting outside and walking in the countryside.
We are so lucky to be surrounded by rolling hills, vast moors, towering mountains, tranquil lakes and magnificent forests and there it so much to discover all throughout the year. As for the weather, all it takes is being well prepared!
There's something magical about fresh air. It clears your head and gets your creative juices flowing. Why wouldn't you want to spend time outdoors and make the most of the spectacular scenery autumn offers us so generously?
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Recipe: Grape Cake
Wine is fine, but it's not all that grapes are good for! This grape cake is a delicious dessert or sweet meal.
Preparation time: 20 minutes / baking 40 minutes
To prepare the recipe, start preheating the oven to 220 C (200 C fan).
Gently fold the short pastry into a 25 cm baking dish and spoon over a thin layer of grated coconot. Cover the base of the dish with a layer of halved grapes. Beat together curd, milk and ginger syrup until light. Beat in two eggs and stir until evenly mixed. Spoon over the cake mixture.
Bake the grape cake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and leave for 10 minutes before turning out.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream!
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Reasons why your Winery needs to be blogging
Being close to the beverages we consume has become increasingly important. As lovers of wine we now care about where it comes from and who grows and produces it. There is a new awareness of lowering our collective carbon footprint and a focus on healthier and more sustainable lifestyles.
Your winery has more to say than you realize and your customers want to hear from you! That specific winery vibe created online can produce a bountiful harvest of business for your market!
By blogging you engage with visitors and earn trust, by sharing content you build a sense of community and you get more people to visit your winery!
I'm sure together we will find the best way to go for your blog. Please get in touch and let's discuss!
Thursday, October 4, 2018
What about homegrown Grapes?
Grape vines are climbing plants providing us with decorative leaves and tendrils that tumble along trellises, walls and fences. With just a litttle planning and pruning it's easily possible to grow vines in containers successfully. If you don't have a lot of room in your yard or on your terrace for a free standing trellis, the area next to a wall of your home might start looking good because it provides a flat, exposed spot against which the plant can rest. Grape vines - like roses - are well suited to living right next to a house. You just have to decide which sunny part of the wall is suitable go be greened with vines. The correct training form for the plant depends on the size and shape of the greening area. Basic requirements for a healthy grape vine suitable to your hardiness zone are: a large container, good quality soil, a hot and sunny place, a lot of water the first 2-3 years and a generous amount of nutrients!
Thursday, September 20, 2018
The Benefits of Minimalist Design in Websites
Why I think minimalism will continue to take over:
It's designed around the content without competition from other elements. Focus is key when it comes to making minimalism work!
It works well in responsive environments. Less information equals less loading time!
It can stand out against all the other design clutter because it's different. Go minimal and your website will grab the eye of the online passerby first!
It's timeless and classy. Simplicity works with many different types of content, styles and trends!
I'm sure we will find the optimal solution for your design needs. Please get in touch and let's discuss!
Friday, September 14, 2018
The Grapes we eat. The Grapes we drink.
Whether they are a healthy snack or are used in wine production, grapes are an incredible fruit. While it might be natural to assume the grapes we eat are the same as those used to make wine, this isn't the case.
Table grapes have a thin skin and have been bred over the years to have smaller seeds or none at all.
Wine grapes on the other hand are much smaller and have a thicker skin as well as lots of prominent seeds.
However, wine grapes are edible too, when ripe they will be much sweeter, softer and juicier than table grapes who generally are bigger, more crispy and crunchy and when picked withstand deterioration much longer.
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Bit of Building
Wine country is an exceptional place to be. Romantic, tender and ultimately fragile, but also rough and brutal sometimes. And at the end of the day, who does not love our wines? Maybe the product should be number one on the list of so many things which embody the allure of the vineyards.
No matter though, there is so much to discover in a vineyard. This building for example emphasises one feature of the wine business which has intrigued me: while simple in design, it also has a certain Old World atmosphere of tradition and mystery.
Take this concept of winery building construction and its evolving philosophy of winemaking, then add the strong character of the land itself to the mix - that vineyard cocktail is pretty darn great!
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Field Notes: The Forest
Inspiration is everywhere.
Abundant beauty around each corner.
Now in the beginning transition from summer to early autumn the light is amazing. I absolutely love these colours, the soft, earthy tones mixed with the brightness of wild berries and forest flowers.
The beginning of the autumnal season is a time of reflection and the current bounty with all the small details can put everything into perspective.
After a long summer, a heat wave that seemed to be endless and a terrible drought, I've never been more ready for my favourite season of all!
Grape Vine Media :: Arletta Rusterholz :: Zopfstrasse 28 :: 8804 Au :: Switzerland