Vineyard Diary


It’s been a wild ride this week, with temperatures in the vineyard reaching north of 105 F for a couple days mid-week, to absolutely autumn-like conditions with highs only in the 70’s this weekend.  Beyond these aberrations, we’re expected to settle back into the same pattern we’ve enjoyed most of the summer, which has been highs near 90 during the day and upper 50s to 60 at night.  These conditions should continue to provide outstanding conditions for grape ripening; we’re quite optimistic about the vintage despite its overall lateness.

Harvest finally begins to come in to focus, with veraison now complete in the tempranillo and primitivo, and almost there in the touriga and barbera.  We’ve updated our projections of harvest in our “grape availability” chart and are expecting the tempranillo harvest in about 2 weeks, the primitivo harvest in about 3 weeks, and the touriga and barbera in October. We expect to begin posting chemistries for our early-ripening varieties next weekend.

Our vines are beginning to show a little late season wear-and-tear, but are generally holding up well and certainly better than last year.  We watered aggressively before and during the recent heat spike, and we seem to be at a nice steady-state now with water demands of the vines, increasingly shorter days, and moderate temperatures expected ahead. 

In terms of vineyard operations, our bird defenses are fully deployed and fairly effective to date.  We noted with glee that a couple birds who managed to get into our full overhead netting in the port vineyard attracted the attention of a hawk–only the second time we’ve gotten aerial support–who made several swoops toward what became a mini-aviary, but couldn’t get on the other side of the netting to nab his prey.  Fortunately, mop up action was completed by our middle-aged golden retriever, picked up at the pound this winter, who–true to his breed–turns out to be an outstanding and enthusiastic bird chaser.  Otherwise, we’ve deployed netting directly to about 40% of the primitivo, and have two “bird boxes” loudly broadcasting distress calls from dawn till dusk.  The latter make us feel like we’re doing something, even if the birds ignore them.

It’s last call for the “Quinta”, from which we will be harvesting the tempranillo–earliest of our Portugese/Iberian varietals–in mid-September.  We have benefited from a couple of years of practice with these varietals, and can say without hesitation that this should be our best year ever with these:  we’ve stayed on top of shoot thinning, and the crop load has been severely limited (typically one bunch per cane) and should be close to our production targets.  The proprietors look forward to making some outstanding estate wine if we have no takers…

Finally, we are pleased to note that a reserve barbera made from our 2008 vintage is now on sale at Oakstone Winery in Fair Play, the 2007 vintage having recently sold out.

Current Grape Availability as of August 29, 2010


Varietal Amount Still Available for Sale Expected Optimal Harvest Time
Barbera  4.0 tons Early-Mid October
Primitivo 0 tons Mid-Late September
Touriga* 1.0 tons Late September-Early October
 “Buy the Quinta”** ~1.2 tons Mid September-Mid October

*”Touriga”, clone 1, 2009 graft.

**Touriga nacional, tempranillo, souzao, and tinta amarella package deal.  Total production of Portugese varietal vineyard planted in 2005.  See “Pricing and Services” for details.

Vineyard Diary

The beginning of grape ripening–veraison–is finally upon us for our main varietals. Veraison is well-advanced in the tempranillo, present in the vast majority of primitivo clusters, apparent in many barbera clusters, and barely starting in the touriga nacional. Considering that it’s already mid-August, we remain on track for a notably, perhaps historically, late harvest. It should be an interesting home stretch.

Temperatures in the last two weeks have been only moderately hot (low 90’s)–not blistering–but our typical arid summer conditions, coupled with drying afternoon winds, have caused some water stress in vines throughout the vineyard, which we are combatting with around-the-clock rotations of irrigation of different blocks.

Chewing of our drip lines, probably by squirrels, continues to vex us (seemingly earlier every season), though we’re fighting back with some strategically-placed temporary fencing. In addition, by the end of the weekend, we expect to have the port vineyard 100% enclosed in overhead bird netting, which we’ve found to be absolutely essential if we want to harvest any of the grapes. Because tempranillo ripens so early and is a particular favorite for the birds, this overhead netting must be rolled out and hole-free before most of the port grapes are sweet. If there is a hole, the birds will find it (though if they get tangled in the net, our cats find THEM). Finally, we are fighting classic late season weeds, including our nemesis the horse weed, mainly to prevent their robbing of water and nutrients intended for the grapes.

We still have some grapes available for sale including significant quantities of barbera, limited quantities of some touriga grafted over last year, and the total output of our 2005 port vineyard (“Buy the Quinta”). As this is our first year of production from the grafted touriga field, and we have no track record with the fruit of these vines (though we think it’s the same clone as one of our 3 touriga nacional clones in the Quinta), and also our first try with a vertical cordon for this varietal, we’re going to offer a substantial discount on this fruit. If you mention this blog, we’ll offer these grapes for $0.65/lb for half a ton or more, or $0.70/lb for smaller quantities (minimum 250 lbs). If you haven’t tried touriga yet, you’re missing some wonderful, dark, fragrant wine.