Something Fishy at Saffron

People visit us for our vibrant reds, creamy whites, and, of course, our luscious oranges, not to mention our dark blacks.  Oranges and blacks, you say?  We’re talking fish here.  And not just any fish, but our wonderful, sometimes temperamental koi inhabiting one of two ponds adjacent to our tasting room.

You might miss our koi if you visit around this time of year.  When the vines go into hibernation, the koi enter their own stupor, drifting to the bottom of the pond or lying low under the bridge.  The cloudy winter waters hide them away, and new visitors never dream that dozens of rare and colorful fish lie beneath the surface (whether they are spreading falsehoods or simply wallowing in the muddy bottom, we cannot say).  And unlike the vines, which at least require careful winter pruning to maximize fall yields and minimize disease, the koi can be left alone until warmer waters and growing hunger trigger increased activity. Aside from feeding during their active season, our maintenance mostly consists of adding beneficial bacteria to suppress algae buildup in the pond.

Come late spring to October though, a visit pond side during your tasting outing is a must.  Along with the Hoichi Kurisu gardens, the permanent installation of outstanding art, and the wine, the koi are among the major draws for visitors to the tasting room.

Koi are not just oversized goldfish. Nishigoi, as they are known in Japan, come in over 100 varieties divided into 16 groups based on original judging standards established by Zen Nippon Airinkai (ZNA) with various local and national standards groups the world over. Judging Koi is a big deal, something like an aquatic-based Westminster Fish Show. And, as with many things Japanese in origin, some masters have apprenticed under other masters and spent their entire lives selecting and caring for the fish.

Of course, keeping Koi in our Saffron pond poses its own challenges.  In addition to the occasional roaming raccoon, we have hawks, eagles, and herons who love nothing more than a fresh fish dinner.  Despite our predatory friends, the population has thrived over the years, and in the summer, when the water warms and clears, you will spot many large adults and numerous fry.

As you savor the complexity, depth, and vibrancy of your fine 2019 Expressionism Pinot Noir, take a moment to appreciate the qualities of the koi swimming near your feet. Their patterns, vibrancy of color, and fin shape are all characteristics used in formal koi judging. Just like with wine, you don’t need to be an expert to know what you like.  Pick a favorite, give her a name, and then come back time and time again to sip wine and spot “your” own special koi. It’s a unique experience that only Saffron Fields Vineyard can offer.

By Published On: April 16, 2024Categories: Place0 Comments