Vineyard Diary 4-15-13

Budburst came earlier this year than in the last several years, but really more like our long-term average.  Our earliest-pushing varietals barbera ,tinta cao, and muscat had pushed by March 24, the next group (touriga, tempranillo, tinta amarela) by April 2, and the primitivo and souzao by April 11.  A timely beginning to the growing season doesn’t insure a timely end, but it’s a good start.

Rainfall has cooperated since late March, with about once-weekly storms deliverying 0.5-1.0 inch of rain each.  We’d welcome that pattern continuing for a little longer, though anything we get at this point in the season is gravy, given our Mediterranean climate.  Overall, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of groundwater.  There has been no credible frost danger since the vines pushed, though we have about 3-4 weeks to go before we’re completely out of the woods.  Mildew prevention measures will start shortly once modeling suggests that it’s time–mainly a function of temperature.

As we head into wine competition season, Shaker Ridge is pleased to offer a first-ever competition of its own to recognize home winemakers that compete successfully with wines made from our grapes.  We will offer as the single grand prize 400 lbs of free grapes from our “still available for sale” inventory, good for the 2013 or 2014 season, for the best homemade wine made from our grapes based on competition results.  If the winner has already placed an order for the 2013 vintage, the prize can be used to offset the cost of 400 lbs of the grapes. The rules are as follows:

  • The wine must be made at least 85% from grapes from Shaker Ridge Vineyard vintage 2010, 2011, or 2012.
  • You must contact us ahead of judging for a given competition that you have entered a wine of type X, vintage Y from our grapes.  We will confirm that your entry is or is not valid for our competition based on our sales records.
  • 2013 home winemaker competitions results considered:  El Dorado County Fair, Amador County Fair, Orange County Fair, California State Fair (if available), Sacramento Home Winemakers June Jubilee.  Additional 2013 public, blinded competitions will be considered with advance agreement from Shaker Ridge, provided that results will be known by August 1, 2013.  Unfortunately, for the purposes of this competition, we cannot consider past results with the above vintages, only upcoming (prospective) entries.
  • Appreciating the subjectivity in wine judging, we will consider the best outcome for a  given wine unless two or more wines with the same best outcome have been entered multiple times.  In the latter case, we will consider the best average outcome.  Ranking of outcomes is: double gold>gold>silver>bronze>honorable mention.  Tie breakers would include additional distinctions, eg Best of Show, Best of Class.  If the above doesn’t yield a single winner, we may request a taste-off!
  • Entrants agree that we can choose to post the results–good, bad, or indifferent–including winemaker, wine, competition, and result, on this website.  We will use your initials if you prefer relative anonymity and let us know this at the time you contact us with your entry.

We suspect that some very good wines have been made by our clients in recent years, and we hope this fun competition will encourage our home winemaker clients to submit their wines to wine competitions for independent appraisal.

We are officially sold out of barbera for 2013, though if yield is adequate, and once our current commitments have been met, we will consider wait-list requests on a first come, first-served basis.  Primitivo, tinta cao, and touriga are still available for sale.