Vineyard Diary


A  quick recap of 2009 weather in the Sierra Foothills would go something like this:

  • January:  dry, pleasant
  • February: wet, cool
  • March: dry, cool
  • April:  normal rainfall, cool
  • May: wet, then hot, then perfect
  • June: cool, cloudy.  Cloudy?? Yes, cloudy.

Threats of an early budburst and another dry winter were allayed by the cool, rainy weather in February, which was followed by continued cool weather in March and April.  In the end, we think we netted out at close to average winter rainful, and budburst was quite delayed.  Buds in the barbera were first seen to push on March 31, with generalized budburst there and the start of budburst on the back hilltop of primitivo by the first week in April.  Even once pushed, the shoots stayed in a suspended state of animation until just after a deep rainfall in early May, at which point it was off to the races.  While the vines had a headstart, the annual grasses and clover in our vine rows–forced to go through their annual life cycle in an unusually short period of time–were not far behind.  With this sprint of the plants came that of the farmers to keep up:  near-weekly spraying to prevent mildew, shoot thinning to control crop load, mowing to control the 2-foot high grasses, and miscellaneous irrigation, fertigation, and equipment repair.   All at once. 

But as we sit here in early June, blessed wth lovely, unseasonably cool temperatures, the vineyard is relatively under control, the grasses and weeds are all but done for the year, and with further cool weather expected, we can dream of staying ahead of the irrigation this year.  Bloom is past, and the young berries are beginning to grow.

Meanwhile, on the county fair circuit, our 2007 Estate Red—consisting mainly of our first vintage of Portugese varietals blended into a dry wine–took silver medals at both the Amador and El Dorado fair homewinemaker competitions.  Obscurity Cellars’ 2007 ShakerRidge Vineyard primitivo earned silver medals in the commercial wine divisions of the same fairs.  And Oakstone’s 2006 Shaker Ridge barbera, while not entered in competitions, sold out in a few short months when made available through Oakstone’s wine club and tasting room in Fair Play.