February 26, 2013
This month continues to be warm and relatively dry, bringing us closer and closer to the start of the growing season for our vines.
Cover crops are grown from seeds that we sow in the vineyard rows just after harvest.
Each type of plant serves a different purpose in preserving the health of the vineyard; mustard and peas draw beneficial insects and add biomass to the soil, oats help to anchor the soil in place with their fibrous root systems, and beans help fix nitrogen into the soil, improving its’ nutrient status.
While some more rain would be nice, we are still enjoying the mild days. Flowers are opening up all over the property and you can practically feel Spring coming.
February 19, 2013
Spring is coming on relatively early this year in Sonoma Valley. In 2012 we saw a warm February which was followed by a cool and rainy March, and so far we’re seeing the same pattern for 2013. It’s impossible for now to say what will happen as the season progresses, but at the moment it’s clear that Spring is coming and the world is waking up.
This is the time of year that we start in on a vineyard process called ‘tying’. During tying we take loose canes from last year and fix them to the trellis wires, beginning the process of forming next years’ canopy.
We take the loose canes and bend their tips down to the lower trellis wires in a regimen known as the ‘Guyot’ system.
One interesting thing to note in the pictures above is that there is only one cane left on the vine, whereas normally we would leave two. If you look carefully at the right hand side of this vine, you will see a tiny piece of cane with two buds on it. This is called a ‘spur’.
Last year was so vigorous that some of the vines, such as this one, became a little stressed. Leaving a spur instead of a cane will result in a slightly smaller canopy with a little less fruit, reducing the stress on the vine for this year and letting it recover its’ strength. This means that our yield will be reduced slightly in 2013, but it also means that the fruit we do get will be of a higher quality. It also means that the vines will survive longer, continuing to produce high quality fruit further into the future.
With high-end wine growing it is sometimes necessary to make trade-offs like this, reducing our overall harvest to ensure the best possible quality in the final product.