Monday, August 27, 2012

The Dog Days are over (we hope)

The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional period of the “Dog Days” as the 40 days beginning July 3rd and ending August 11th, coinciding with the ancient heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. These are the days of the year with the least rainfall in the Northern Hemisphere. Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies." according to Brady’s Clavis Calendaria, 1813. Without sounding too smug, I have to admit that as many of you across the country experienced some form of these hot summer scourges, we here in the Napa Valley had a summer of nearly perfect weather.

at the Napa Farmer's Market

In my last post, all the way back in June, I talked about the glories of the Santa Rosa plum. Though not a great year for plum yields in general, the great weather yielded us amazing crops of white and yellow nectarines, peaches, apples, blackberries, and a few pluots (a cross between a plum and an apricot). The warm, sunny days in the Napa Valley are perfect for bringing out the sugars and the coastal-influenced cool nights are key for bringing out the acidity and unbelievable flavors of the fruit!

an heirloom plum variety called "Howard's Miracle" it has a very floral
 smell and tastes a little like grapefruit.

Many of our favorite Napa restaurants, including OenotriZuzuNorman RosePizzeria Azzurro, and ABC Bakery, used the fruit on salads, in desserts, as pizza toppings, and as a topping for French toast. We also sold fruit at the Napa Farmer’s Market.

The harvest was so bountiful that I was also able to make LOTS of jam, including Peach Raspberry and Heavenly White Nectarine-Ginger, Pink Pearl Apple Butter, and soon I will be picking Mission Figs for a round of Fig Jam.

Baring any unforeseen calamities, we are expecting a great 2012 grape harvest. We will be picking the Sauvignon blanc for our White Wine blend this week. Growing conditions were close to perfect this summer, and we’re looking forward to fantastic quality wines!

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