Over the past 3 months we've often felt like we’re digging a canyon with a teaspoon, but progress is being made! And we have been very very busy....
Crazy winter weather
The winter started with a seemingly endless series of warm sunny days and hardly any rain or snow. Just when we were starting to wonder if winter would ever really arrive we were hit with the biggest snow storm since 1956, dumping over 1.5 meters of snow paired to freezing, blizzard-like conditions. Luck would have it that Mirco and I were in the US with the Indie Wineries Road Show (more below) and we missed the whole thing. Basically we sat helpless on the other side of the world worrying about our precious trees and praying that the temperatures would not drop any further. Olive trees can begin to suffer serious damage at around -5 degrees C. Reports were coming in of temps dropping to 6, 7, 8 below zero and loads of snow accumulating on branches with serious risk of breakage. We finally returned home to find things at the Costa better than we feared. There was no structural damage to limbs, but we did find some frost damage on quite a few trees. We won’t know the extent of the damage until the spring when the trees will kick out new vegetation and if we’re lucky the limbs will not have suffered permanent damage and will replace their leaves over the next year (if not they will they have to be removed completely). At this point we also have no idea whether the trees will produce any fruit at all in 2012… again only spring will tell. On a positive note we returned to find our Well overflowing and the rest of Costa is in good shape and glad for all the much needed water.
Our fingers are crossed for the full recovery of our trees and for a harvest for our Costa Digiano Single Orchard Cru olive oil in 2012….
Meanwhile, we’ve been hard at work with pruning the olive trees, packaging our 2011 extra virgin olive oil in time to have it shipped off to the US, Mulching and clearing mountains of brambles, climbing ivy and acacia forests that are covering every structure on the property.
This is a huge job considering the size and age of the trees and the fact that it’s likely been more than 30 years since they were last pruned. Many of the trees are surrounded by brambles and climing ivy, so our first job is to free the trees before we can start pruning. It’s a joy spending time with them and getting to know each one of our old ladies (I’ve also felt like the olive tree is feminine, I suspect they are Entwives:). There’s no better way to get to know your trees intimately than pruning them one on one.
Mirco treating with Propoli
2011 Costa Digiano extra virgin olive oil
In January a total of 1024 bottles of 2011 extra virgin olive oil left the port of Livorno headed for the US! There was much to do to prepare for the event. Each bottle was hand labeled, hand numbered, hand wax capped and wrapped individually in tissue paper. It was a whole lot more time consuming and labor intensive than I had anticipated... but after weeks of endless repetative work the 2 small pallets of oil are on their way and due to have arrived in New York any day now!
natural beeswax capping
wrapping each precious bottle
The well is now filled to the rim!
We’ve finally uncovered the well and are pleased to say that there is a lot of water inside. After the big storm the well is completely full! Our next steps will be analyzing the water and re-building the outer structure.
Giardino del Pozzo:
We’ve also almost finished clearing off the little jungle surrounding the well and are getting ready to lay down some sheet mulch to prepare the area for a small forest garden. We’ve removed all the brambles and climbing vines and most of the acacias. Next fall, once our sheet mulch has killed the roots of those jungle plants we will be ready to start planting some fruit trees.
The access road:
We’ve just finished uncovering the access road, which was previously an obstacle course of overgrown vegetation, so now we should finally be able to drive in (instead of leaving our car at the main road and hiking in).
We have discovered the joys (and periodic frustrations) of Mechanized labor! We’ve not got a steel bladed weedwaker (does magic on the brambles), and a chainsaw...
..and our latest big purchase is our FBC mulcher! We’ve been at work for days mulching mountains of debris, but we’ve barley touched the surface. I think there will be no lack of wonderful organic mulch at Costa Digiano!
And introducing Gianino! The Costa Digiano mobile!
After attempting for months to use the Volkswagon Polo as a makeshift pickup truck we finally gave in to the need for a more suitable farm vehicle... Gianino is a 1993 Fiat Fiorino pickup, all manual everything. So far we love him.
Indie Wineries 2012 Road Show - Coast to Coast!
From Jaunaury 31st to February 9th we were in the US for the 2nd annual Indie Wineries Road show! 20 wine producers (plus Costa Digiano!) touched 5 states in 10 days of portfolio tastings and events. It was quite a show, a whole lot of fun and a huge success for Indie Wineries! A big thank you to the owners of Indie - Summer Wolff & Christian Troy and to all the fabulous distributors! A special heartfelt thanks to our PA distributor and dear friend Scott Braunschweig who made the Indie gang feel like family while we were in Philadelphia.
Our next big project is planting our new olive grove. We have 90 new trees of Mignola on the way and we're preparing to get those into the ground as quickly as possible. More on that adventure in the next Blog!