6:30 am, Thursday morning, September 30, 2010 I am watching the weather on radar as a gruesome tropical storm is covering the east coast from Florida all the way north to Canada. Out here on the North Fork we have had only a mist of precipitation but there is no way I can accurately predict what will happen. The peninsula (or fork) where we are situated is at the end of a 90 mile eastward reaching island that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound. Often times this location helps us avert storms like this travelling up the coast; the rains hug the eastern shoreline, hit Manhattan then continue north into upstate New York and New England, leaving us high and dry. As the storm formed yesterday, there was a frenzy of picking. We brought in 10 tons of merlot, picking and sorting from 7am to 7 pm. A couple of other winegrowers I spoke to were also furiously harvesting perfectly ripe fruit and there was excitement in their voices, like they were almost glad there was trouble brewing. I felt the adrenaline too and still feel it this morning as the 280 mile wide storm creeps by missing us by a mere 70 miles or so. I think we are all masochists here, happy only when there is impending doom. 4:30 pm, Thursday, September 30, 2010 We have had some resident crows in the vineyard for the past 10 days and right now they are skipping around the perimeter cawing loudly. I look at them as the guardians of the fruit because once the crows claim territory the starlings high-tail it out. Up to mid-September we have had to scare the starlings out of the vineyard as many as 15 to 20 times per day as they descended into the vineyard in flocks of 500 or more intent on devouring our fruit. Even with the vines netted, they still get in. Now, their absence is almost eerie. I just finished walking through each cutting of the Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. It is apparent that the western facing clusters, the ones that get the hot afternoon sun have surpassed the eastern facing clusters in ripeness. The berries are pulling off the stems leaving only a dark red wick attached and the seeds are getting brown and crunchy, shattering between my teeth as I chew. This may be a year where we harvest each vine twice, taking the “sun” side of the vines first, tying back down the bird netting and waiting until the eastern facing fruit finishes. We will see.