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The Start of the Season

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, April 02, 2013
in Vineyard

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One of the first signs of season for the vine is the movement of sap.  Stored in the trunk throughout the winter, the pruning cuts stimulate those juices moving upward.  The vine wounds naturally heal themselves (but draw plenty of activity from the insect community) and the sap eventually begins to move toward the buds.  Historically speaking, the sap from a grapevine has been used to treat everything from skin and eye diseases, to snake bites, or used as shampoo.

 

Despite the cooler spring temperatures (it was 25 today with a wind chill of 14), the vines seem to be on their own schedule with this sap movement.  With the forecast later this week showcasing some temperatures a little more in line with this time of year (50's).  Purely speculative, the vines may just be on a lunar schedule and shrug off these cooler temps to push through winter in order to get on with their job for the season.

 

We can hope that this is a sign of good weather to come over the next few weeks.

 

 

Pruning Complete. Now On To Tying.

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, March 26, 2013
in Vineyard

 

 

Kristina Rose works on wraping the cane around the fruiting wire.So we wrapped up pruning and tying trunks over a month ago and we were waiting for some "warmer" weather to begin tying canes to the fruiting wire.  Normally, I like to tie canes once we get into the 40's and 50's because the canes bend easier and you have less issues with breakage.  It also requires a little more dexterity than pruning and exposing those fingers to winter elements can sometimes be unbearable.  Unfortunately, this winter decided to stick around a fair bit longer than in winter pasts (so much for that groundhog in Punxsutawney).  

 

With the first day of spring arriving last week, we are hopeful that these winter temperatures are not going to be around much longer.  We noticed much more chatting from the birds this past weekend and the vine canes are bending a little easier.  Thus, we decided to get back on track in the vineyard and start to wrap up tying for the season.  We expect to be done in the next couple of weeks, so keep your fingers crossed for spring-like temperatures.

What's Happening This Winter?

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
User is currently offline
on Friday, March 15, 2013
in Vineyard

 

Many people ask me what we end up doing in the winter (usually assuming that we have absolutely nothing to do).  While things are comparatively slower during our "off-season", there are still plenty of things to work on.

 

From a winemaking aspect, there are usually a few tanks of Riesling that are fermenting into the new year.  Once those have completed, we cold stabilize the wines and begin blending trials. The blending trial evaluation can take weeks to complete with all the different variables (i.e. 8 different tanks of Riesling from 3 different sites to make 5 unique Rieslings can take a fair bit of time).  While the 2012 Pinot's are resting in the barrels, we still have the 2011 Single Vineyard Pinot's to prep for bottling, along with the 2011 Barrel Reserve.  Additionally, we still have all the post-fermentation chemistry to catch up on (yes, there is the science aspect to winemaking too).

 

The vineyard needs an annual pruning, which usually takes a few weeks.  This is followed by tying the young trunks to the stakes to keep the vines upright.  Finally, once things begin to warm up, we can tie the canes to the fruiting wire for the season.

 

What does the winery dog do when it's this cold out.  Well, her Swiss roots really come out with snow on the ground.  Check out the latest vineyard snow romp from our pooch:

 

Harvest is here... early!

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, September 04, 2012
in Harvest

 

With early bud break, early flowering & fruit set, and early veraison, is it any surprise that the grapes are ready for harvest?  In fact, this is the earliest harvest this region has ever seen!

 

On August 26th we brought in a little over four tons of hand-picked Pinot Noir grapes for our sparkling program (Blanc de Noir & Brut Rosé).  The Blanc de Noir grapes are hand-sorted, destemmed and then immediately pressed to eliminate drawing out colors and flavors from extended skin contact.  The Brut Rosé is also hand-sorted, but we allow it to spend a little time on the skins to draw out some fresh strawberry and cherry components from the skins.  This year, we allowed the juice to be in contact with the skins for 20 hours before pressing.

 

Both styles of bubbles will ferment until dryness and then we will allow the wine to rest over the winter before bottling in the spring.  If the fermentation esters are any indicator of the flavors in the finished wine, these bottlings will be quite exciting - everything from candied strawberries to bananas, and fresh bowls of cherries.  I'm sure Susan is salivating as she passes by the tanks, so I'm quick to remind her that winemaking is about patience.

Finally, Another Entry

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, August 15, 2012
in Vineyard

 

It has been way too long since my last post - but I have good reason.  Since the dramatic change in color with our Pinot Noir fruit, there has been an increase in the bird population on the property and much more pressure to get some netting out rather than get another diary post out.

 

So here is what has been going on:

 

Rolling Out The Nets

altOnce veraison started, it was time to minimize the damage to the fruit.  Birds of all types can contribute to a myriad of problems including higher disease pressure or turning a cluster to vinegar.  To avoid this, we have to protect the fruit:  especially red varieties, and especially those that ripen early such as Pinot Noir.  There are several different types of nets that can be deployed - nets that cover multiple rows, cover one row, or nets that cover the fruit zone.  We selected the type of nets that cover the fruit zone which will allow us to continue driving the tractor down the rows without issue.  Also, we will be able to simply roll up the netting and connect it to the trellis wire at the end of the season - so that in years to come, we can simply release the nets and drop them into place.

 

altLeaf Removal In The Fruit Zone

Another critical step for the success of a tight cluster variety like Pinot Noir is the removal of leaves in the fruit zone.  This step allows for proper air drainage along with sunlight penetration to dry the fruit out more rapidly when we have either rain or morning dew.  However, we must be careful of the quantity of leaves removed along with the side of the canopy from which the leaves are pulled.  Typically, when rows run South to North, we would only want to remove leaves on the Eastern side of the row in order to avoid having the grapes be damaged with sunburn from the more intense afternoon sun.  Pictured is our assistant, Conor, removing the Eastern leaves from the fruit zone on the middle block of our vineyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepping For Harvest

There are a number of little things that need to be cleaned up, oiled up, and double checked to make sure they are still in working condition.  Most of our harvest equipment is used in a span of 6 weeks, so now is a good time to start cleaning out the cobwebs and testing it out.  It should only be a few weeks before the first fruit arrives so the pressure is on!

 

Pinot Noir Clusters 7/27/12

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Pinot Noir Clusters 8/15/12

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