Vineyard Diary 4-25-14

The growing season is rapidly progressing as the heat slowly ramps up and the rains become less frequent.  At this moment, we are receiving what is supposed to be upwards of half an inch of rain–not bad for us in late April.  Since the last update in mid-March, we have received an additional 3+ inches of rain, rounding out what has been a solid spring for rainfall.  Overall, we would estimate that we have received upwards of 2/3rds of our normal annual rainfall, with much of that in February and March.  Though such late, warmer rain isn’t so helpful for the Sierra snowpack needed for river flow and downstream users, it does serve our local needs for agriculture, and the only question is how well our well water will hold up in late summer.  As such, we have decided to make available an additional 1.5 tons of barbera for sale, still holding one block’s production in reserve in case we need to ration water late in the season.

Budburst for our barbera occurred on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, and the rest of the vineyard (apart from late-pushing souzao) had followed suit within a couple weeks.  For us, this was only a week earlier than last year, though we are hearing reports in general of crops starting a couple weeks earlier across California.  In fact, our own blueberries are already producing, which is a full 2 weeks earlier than in an average year.

We held off spraying to prevent powdery mildew (a critical vineyard operation) as late as possible, but have now already completed two rounds of treatments.  This will continue at regular intervals into mid-summer when high heat and, eventually, veraison, make this unnecessary.  We are now in the midst of shoot thinning operations in the barbera vineyard, where shoot growth is progressing rapidly and ahead of the rest of the vineyard.  We have also done our first round of mowing of the cover crop to improve accessibility of the vines and hopefully spare some ground water for the grapevines.  So, all is green and on track so far this season.

We are pleased to announce our second annual competition to recognize home winemakers that compete successfully with wines made from our grapes.  We will offer as the single grand prize 250 lbs of free grapes from our “still available for sale” inventory, good for the 2014 or 2015 season, for the best homemade wine made from our grapes based on blinded competition results.  If the winner has already placed an order for the 2014 vintage, the prize can be used to offset the cost of 250 lbs (our standard minimal order) 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, 2012, or 2013.
  • You must contact us ahead of judging for a given competition to let us know 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.  There is no cost to enter, and no obligation for future purchases.
  • 2014 home winemaker competitions results considered:  El Dorado County Fair, Amador County Fair, Orange County Fair, California State Fair, and Sacramento Home Winemakers June Jubilee.  Additional 2014 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.

Thank you, and good luck!

We still have available for sale small amounts of 2014 barbera, primitivo, and touriga nacional on a first come, first-served basis.  Please see our “Current Grape Availability”, which always represents our real-time availability for the current season.