More cane positioning

May 30, 2012




We are steadily working our way through the upper portion of the property, by the end of this week we expect every vine in this section to be nice and squared away, after which we will move on down to China Bowl.

As you may recall, cane positioning is done to give the canopy the proper shape. While the position of the canes is crucial, it is also important to pay attention to the positions of the leaves and clusters.

While the crew goes through positioning canes, they also remove leaves on the side of the vine that will catch sunlight in the morning.

As you can see, removing the leaves from the East facing side of the vine leaves the clusters exposed, which will allow them to catch direct sunlight during the morning. This mild sunlight will help the fruit to ripen and develop strong, fruit forward characters.

There is also some effort put into the positioning of the clusters themselves, they often need to be untangled and moved away from each other at this stage, so that when the grapes begin to grow they do not crowd each other and block the flow of light and air through the canopy.

As you can see in this picture, the West facing side of the vine is left with more leaves covering the fruit. This is the side of the vine that receives the harsher afternoon sunlight, when the fruit will need some protection to prevent raisining and sunburn.

All of this attention to detail is why cane positioning is such a painstaking process, it is what’s necessary to produce fruit of the caliber we want for our wines.

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.





Check out what Josh Raynolds of the International Wine Cellar had to say about our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon,

“2007 Amapola Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, 90 points Inky purple. Complex aromas of dried cherry, licorice, tobacco and aged beef, plus a subtle smoky nuance. Sappy and creamy in texture, offering intense dark fruit flavors that gain power and spiciness with aeration. Shows bitter cherry pit and smoked meat notes on the back end, finishing with very good breadth and sweetness.”
Thanks for the kind words Josh!

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.

Cane Positioning

May 24, 2012




Now that suckering is done for the year, we are starting to position our canes. Cane positioning is done to shape the canopy in such a way that the fruit gets adequate sunlight and exposure to air. The sunlight enhances fruit characters in the finished wine, and the airflow prevents pathogens like mildew and bunch rot from taking hold.

This is how the vines look before cane positioning. Note the somewhat unregulated growth, with many of the canes growing more or less horizontally. Having canes sticking out like this creates too much shade on the fruit, and restricts the flow of air.

The ideal position for the canes is almost vertical.

This is how the vines look after cane positioning. Note how all of the canes have been tucked up under the trellis wire so they stand upright.

This is a very labor intensive process, it takes a crew of four almost two weeks to do the entire property, but it is one of the many steps that simply have to be followed to grow the grapes that make excellent wine. Be sure to check back tomorrow for more on how we sculpt the canopy of our vines!

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.


May 21, 2012





Our vines have started to flower!

This is a cluster of Cabernet Sauvignon from China Bowl that has started to flower. Grape flowers don’t really have petals. Instead they have a ‘cap’ of green tissue that covers the male reproductive organs of the flower (stamens). When the cap falls off, the stamens pop out, giving the flowering grape cluster its’ fuzzy appearance.

This is a very crucial moment in the vintage. The flowers are extremely delicate at this stage, almost anything could damage them or knock them off of the cluster, reducing the yield at harvest. Rain, for instance, could have a major effect during flowering because the impact of raindrops is enough to knock most of the flowers to the ground.

Fortunately, the weather is clear and dry right now, and should remain so for the foreseeable future. In fact, the conditions at the moment are ideal, it is clear and sunny, but not overly hot. The vines are very active, but not particularly stressed.

Bloom is moving very quickly in certain spots. China Bowl, near the foot of the property, is close to 15% through bloom, as is Montana Vista, near the top of the property. There is a little bit of bloom in the Grenache, and everything else is still waiting to go. Be sure to check back to see how it’s going!

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.




Check out what Josh Raynolds of International Wine Cellar had to say about our 2009 Monte Rosso Zinfandel!

2009 Amapola Creek Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard Vinas Antiguas Sonoma Valley

($42) (includes about 9% petite sirah; 16.1% alcohol):  Inky ruby.  An explosively perfumed bouquet displays dark berry liqueur, cherry-cola, licorice and smoky Indian spices.  Lush and expansive blackberry and blueberry flavors show surprising vivacity for a wine of this size, with lively spice and floral qualities emerging with air.  Closes smoky and very long, with lingering vanilla and violet nuances. 92

We have to agree! Always lovely to hear nice things about our wines!

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.

Done with Suckering

May 17, 2012




We’ve finished out suckering all of the vines on the property, which means we will have a brief lull in our vineyard work. The next step is going to be cane positioning.

Suckering was the first step in shaping the canopy of the vines, where we chose which shoots we would keep and which should be let go. Cane positioning is the next step, where we take the remaining shoots and tuck them up between the trellis wires.

Forcing the shoots to grow more or less vertically will do several things. First, it will cause most of the grapes to hang at close to the same height, defining an area known as the ‘fruiting zone’. Second, it will fill the fruiting zone with dappled sunlight, giving the fruit some exposure to sunlight, but also some protection from the intense summer sun. Third, it helps hold the shoots still, which gives them some protection from wind damage.

We know it’s time to start cane positioning when the vines start to get this ‘hairy’ look. All of the horizontal and downward growth will be trained upwards.

As you have seen over the last few weeks, we really put a lot of hand labor into tending our vines. It is difficult, and it is expensive, and it is the best way to craft the exceptional grapes that become our exceptional wines. Be sure to check back and see what positioned canes look like!

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.

T-buds are pushing!

May 15, 2012




This is exciting, the vines that we budded over to Grenache are starting to push shoots! This signals that the T-budding process was a success, and that in a few years we will indeed have some more Grenache to put into our Cuvee Alis.

The white budding tape you see in this picture will help us to identify the Grenache shoots as they grow. Many of these vines are still pushing Cabernet shoots from latent buds in other sections of the trunk, these shoots will need to be removed and so we will need to be able to tell them apart from the Grenache shoots. They may be small right now, but each of these tiny shoots will be trained up onto the trellis wire, and eventually become an arm of the grown vine.

We’ve been preparing for this T-budding project since last Winter, so it’s fantastic to see that the work we’ve put in is paying off. We’re greatly looking forward to the wine we will eventually make from these vines, and we’re sure you will too. There’s still a lot happening in our vineyards, be sure to check back and see!

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.

More suckering

May 9, 2012




Today we finished suckering the upper part of the property, including the Foxtrot Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Syrah and Grencahe in Bobcat Run. We also suckered the Petit Verdot in Bobcat Run, but this variety has to be suckered a little differently than most other varieties.

Petit Verdot has relatively weak cane attachments, which means that the shoots can break off fairly easily. We are expecting to lose a few shoots to wind later in the season, and a few more will probably come off during cane positioning, so at this point we only sucker the shoots that are sprouting out of the trunk, leaving vines that have a bushy canopy on top of a cleared stalk.

One of the next big physiological stages that the vines are going to go through is flowering. The closed flowers emerge along with the shoot during budbreak. At first they are pretty small, but flowering is likely only a few weeks away and so they are starting to swell up.

Grenache has the largest clusters out of any of our varieties, and so it also has the largest bunches of flowers. Each tiny bump in this picture is a flower bud. Imagine that every bud on this stalk will turn into a single grape, and you will see where the characteristic shape of grape clusters comes from.

Things are moving fast for us, be sure to check back and see what’s going on!

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.




Anthony Diaz Blue had some very nice things to say about our current release 2010 Jos. Belli Chardonnay!

“90: Amapola Creek 2010 Chardonnay, Jos Belli Vineyards, Russian River Valley ($35) A lush, ripe Chard from Sonoma master Richard Arrowood; dense fruit and firm acidity; unfined for rich complexity, depth and lengthy flavors; stylish and vivid.”

As always, it’s great to hear that someone appreciates all of the hard work we put in on our wines!

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.


May 7, 2012




Today we began the process of ‘suckering’ in our vineyards. Suckering is a process where any unwanted shoots, or ‘suckers’, that have sprouted from the vine are removed. This is our first step towards shaping the canopy of the vine; suckering lets us leave the correct number of shoots, and allows us to choose their placement, so that the canopy is not too dense or too open.

An overly dense canopy will put too much shade on the fruit, resulting in vegetal flavors and a heightened risk of bunch rot during harvest. Alternatively, too much sun will leave the fruit exposed, possibly resulting in ‘sunburn’ (dry, hard, brown patches of skin), which can also have an adverse effect on wine quality.

The idea is to keep the canopy sized just right, open and airy with plenty of dappled sunlight over the fruit. Here is an example of what a vine looks like before suckering.

This is a Cabernet Sauvignon vine from the Foxtrot block. Note its bushy appearance, this is the result of an excess of buds pushing.

And here is what the same vine looks like after suckering is done.

See how the canopy is a little less dense, a little more open than it was before. We will still probably thin the canopy out a few more times over the course of the season, once the canopy has filled back in a little, but for now this vine is shaped just right.

It’s a lot of work to tend each vine by hand like this, but it’s a necessary part of making excellent fruit, which is in turn a necessary part of making outstanding wines.

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.