We’re Still Here!

Spring 2008 has been an interesting one.  First, it was an extraordinarily dry spring, keeping us on our toes earlier than usual in terms of irrigation.  Second, we were affected, albeit manageably, by a spring frost that wreaked havoc in some vineyards across northern California and caused some bud loss in about 20% of our early-emerging barbera vines.  The remarkably resilient vines have erased most traces of the damage, and we would expect only a minimal reduction in barbera crop as a result.  Third, the generally seasonable if not slightly cool weather has been punctuated by early previews of mid-summer heat, most recently a brutal heatwave in mid-May that tested the resolve of grapevine and farmer alike.

As of early June, both the barbera (first) and the primitivo (a little later) had set fruit, so we’re about at that time when shoot growth slows, and the vines concentrate on developing their fruit.  The vines seem to be in excellent balance this year, with shorter shoots than we are accustomed to seeing.  We have begun watering the barbera proactively, and have practically dry-farmed the primitivo, the latter not having shown any water stress as yet.  However, more high heat is on the way, and more frequent irrigation will likely be needed.  Meanwhile, weeds are under better control than we have ever managed at Shaker Ridge, in part from learning from our previous mistakes, and in part probably due to the dry spring, which taxes shallow-rooted weeds more than deep-rooted grapevines.

We have a number of exciting development to report on previous vintages.   The second commercial wine to be made from Shaker Ridge grapes, and the first to be entered in a commercial wine competition–the 2006 Primitivo from Obscurity Cellars of Fair Play, CA–just won a silver medal in the 2008 El Dorado County Fair.  This delicious wine is set to be released for sale at a late July coming-out party for several Obscurity Cellar wines over in Fair Play.  In addition, in the home winemaker division of the El Dorado County Fair wine competition, an estate effort we call “John’s Revival” in honor of a winemaking mentor who didn’t let us give up on this wine, earned our first-ever gold medal.  This was particularly flattering since the apparently tough judges for the homewinemaker division only awarded 5 gold medals in the entire competition.  Meanwhile, our 2006 estate barbera wine, which we call “Three Brothers” in honor of the family effort involved in harvesting the grapes that went into it, earned a silver medal in the same competition. 

We are looking forward to even better things to come, including the 2008 vintage!