Pinot Noir

The Pinot Noir is also getting close to harvest. The grapes are on Wildcat Mountain on the border of Sonoma Coast and Carneros AVAs. Beautiful view overlooking Sonoma Raceway, San Pablo Bay and San Francisco in the distant. The vines get a constant breeze from the Petaluma Gap which makes the skins thicker and causes the vines to shutdown during the day. These grapes should make a beautiful wine.

 

Wildcat Pinot Pinot2

Chardonnay

The Chardonnay is getting close to harvest (this week!). Two different clones 17 and 76 on 101-14 root stock. Beautiful hillside vineyard that is owned and farmed by Lee Martinelli, Jr. The Martinelli family has been farming apples and grapes in Sonoma County for generations.

chard2 chard

Weather…

The weather this year has been unusual which is becoming the norm. Had a very hot spell at the beginning of the season. In fact, some of the Petite Syrah and Trousseau got a sunburn (see pics below). Most growers were claiming 2 -4 weeks ahead. Then the cooler weather set in for several weeks and slowed everything down. Had some rain as well but no mold/fungus issues so far. We shall see what Mother Nature has in store for us as we continue through the season.

Here is what sunburn looks like (July 5).Sunburn

 

Black Widow!!

Was removing some grow tubes and found a couple of Black Widow spiders. Captured them for show and tell to teach the boys what to avoid.

blackwidow

Veraison

Veraison has begun! The grapes will start accumulating sugar and turn purple or lighter green.

 

veraisonveraison2

Budbreak update

All of the vines in Block 8 have started bud break… The vines are waking up but as you might expect the growth is not uniform across the vineyard which will bring its own set of challenges as we go along. No complaints. Glad things have finally started. Bring on bloom!

Me and my hoe

A man can do some serious thinking while he hoes around 500+ vines. I must say life is good. I’m mighty thankful to have such an understanding and supportive wife, three energetic and healthy sons and wonderful family and friends. Healdsburg is really a paradise. The only thing that would make it better is if our family lived closer.

hoe1

So here is what I am up to. The gremagna (intervine tiller) pilled up soil and left weeds around the vines, so… I am hand hoeing around each vine. Not to mention it also tore out three healthy vines (2 petite syrah and 1 zin). Serenity Now!! So the jury is still out on the value of the gremagna.

So what’s a man to do but think and whistle some good ole hoe-down songs…

 

Before and after:

 

hoe2hoe3

 

Where have you been?

Sorry for not posting recently… It has been a busy month in the vineyard and getting the winery setup. Here are some of things that I have been doing.

In the Vineyard…

Bud break has begun! Overall the feeling is that everything is behind by a week or so. In Block 8, the majority of the Zin has not started yet. The delay is most likely caused by pruning late.

Here is a picture of Block 8.

Block8

 

Every other row has been cultivated and the other rows have been mowed.

Here is a Tinta Cao vine that has started bud break.

TC_Budbreak

 

Learned to drive a tractor. Awesome!

Tractor

Using a tool to cultivate between the vines called a Gramegna. Block 8 is getting cultivated today.

Gramegna1

Gramegna2

 

There were a number of vines that were not producing to a economic capacity so we removed them. We salute you for your service! In the process of ordering new vines.

             

Removed_Vines1

Removed_Vines3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vines are pruned and tied, and trellis is repaired. Will be reviewing irrigation this week and as soon as bud break is further along, will start suckering.

In the winery…

Still waiting on the Secretary of State’s office to approve the LLC. Once this happens, I can move forward with licensing, wine making contracts, labels, etc. Still considering what other wines to make in addition to Zin. Have some leads on a Pinot and Cab vineyard that I could farm. More on this later….

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting fortune

On our initial trip in December, I received an interesting fortune….

Life is never more fun than when you’re the underdog competing against the giants.

Seems fitting for our present venture…

Things are heating up

Not only is the weather getting warmer but things are moving along with the winery. I have started farming a small block of Zinfandel in Alegria Vineyards that I plan to make wine from this year. Currently I am pruning the vines which I find quite relaxing. Seven of the twenty-three rows are complete. There is some rain forecast for this weekend and next week which means that I will likely paint the open wounds to prevent fungal diseases like Eutypa Dieback.

Also starting to see some sap flow in the vines which means they are starting to wake up from their winter nap.

Pruning1Pruning2

Barrel tasting is the next two weekends and I will help out at Acorn Winery as much as I can.

Have also been working on the business plan, trademarks, etc for the winery. As soon as the proposed winery name is approved, I will discuss more.

Cheers!
T

Where did all of the RVs, Windmills, Pumpjacks and Trees go?

From what I saw in Arizona and California.

Four things really stick out in my mind about the journey west….

As we pushed west of Phoenix, we started to notice that there was an unbelievable number of RVs parked everywhere in the desert. Then we came up to the town of Quartzite, AZ which was a mass of RV’s and this continued for miles past the town. Apparently close to a million rockhounds come to Quartzite (population ~3000) in January for a big rock, sports and RV show. It was quite a site.

I thought there was a lot of windmills in West Texas… I was wrong. Take a trip through the Palm Springs area. Unreal…

As we turned off to go to Paso Robles, we drove through Lost Hills, California. I have never seen so many pumpjacks in one field. Check it out.

And last but not least… there are unbelievable orchards and vineyards in the central valley of California. Acres and acres of trees and vines. Very impressive how they are managed.

Trip Summary

For those of you crazy enough to drive to California from Texas here are the highlights from my journey. Take into account that I was pulling a 34ft camper behind the truck. Typically drove 65-70 miles per hour until California where the speed limit is 55mph for vehicles with trailers.

2171 miles
8.6 MPG (yes this hurts the pocket book…)
36hrs 16mins drive time
2 Large Bags of Sunflower Seeds

Frist day we drove from Cypress TX to Las Cruces, NM (~800 miles). We stayed at the KOA which was very nice. Would stay there again.

Had lunch at Cooper’s BBQ in Junction, TX
Last call for good Texas brisket. Right off the freeway and good gas stations.

Next day we drove to Phoenix and stayed with my in-laws (~400 miles). Had a very nice visit and dinner.

Had breakfast at Kransberry’s in Lordsburg, NM
Good Green Chile omelet and burrito. Gas station right across the street but not good for a trailer.

Day three we drove to Paso Robles (~600 miles). Had a nice lunch with some long time family friends in Palm Springs. Paso is about an hour out of the way but did not want to arrive late and disturb the family on a school/work day. Unfortunately did not arrive early enough to try out any wineries but definitely a place I will explore more in the future. Stayed at the Wine Country RV Park. Nice place, will definitely stay there again.

Day four, we drove to Healdsburg (~200 miles). Home at last!