"Milestones" may not be the appropriate term, but rather "Waypoints". We are, however, at another place on our journey and are in need of some updating. Dale turned 60 this month. and is having both hips upgraded for the next leg of this journey. We spent most of last year renovating the Barn into the "Barnery". a bunk house, event center with a winery added on. Other than the winery, we are not positive how the Barnery will be used. It is certainly an "overflow" accommodation for when we have guests, but it has already served as a mini (<50 people) event center hosting three weddings. Eventually we may list it as an Air BnB property.
The winery is up and running! After three failed attempts at winemaking, we produced our first vintage of "Funque du Ranche", last year from our small 2021 harvest, and it was pretty darn good! Our 2022 harvest was better as our 6 year old vines are slowly reaching maturity. We should be bottling 9 cases in about a month. We are not a licensed winery so this is strictly for our personal use and consumption but we are considering adding a liquor license of some type to our Barnery, or even pursuing a winery and tasting room license. Dale has not quite ruled out another block of vines, but it sounds like a lot of work.
Around the Ranch, the focus has shifted a bit from building out to improving. We wanted to get our vines and trees planted as quickly as possible so they would have time to mature, but progress has been slow. Water management has become a priority as all of these plantings require a steady amount of water and It's not feasible or wise to rely on our well water. Two years ago, Dale began learning about Permaculture which at it's heart is a series of techniques that work with the land and natural water to provide a sustainable way to manage this ranch. As of this Spring we will have a row of Hazelnut and Chestnut trees along our Northern border to slow the winter winds and catch the snow they bring to drop that moisture into the soil at the highest possible elevation. We have also been adding to our orchard and a row of Flowering Dogwood at the western edge of the property to slow the hot drying summer winds. We hope to employ a hydraulic ram pump and a couple of Key line ponds to provide better access to water for the Christmas trees in the months ahead. Lastly, we have added mulching on all of our plantings to reduce the need for extra irrigation and minimize weeding.
Future plans entail expanding the deck below the winery overlooking the vineyard, pond building, and archery. (Dale bought himself a bow). We may add some livestock at some point but that won't be for a bit. (Goat yoga anyone?)