Our last vineyard post was on 10-3-17, so it seems appropriate, in a quasi-palindromic sort of way, that our first post of new season would be on 3-10-18. That’s more than 5 months, which is not too shabby as vineyard downtime goes.
It has been a rather dry “wet season” here in California, with average to somewhat below average fall rains giving way to distinctly below average winter rains. We have received a little late spring rain here, coupled with snow in the high country, bringing some late-season relief. Temperature-wise, it was on the warm side for much of January and most of February, giving way finally to more winter-like temperatures in late Feb and early March. Who knows exactly what combination of cues the vines use to decide when to push their buds, but what we can say is that they have not done so or given any serious of doing so to date at Shaker Ridge, and we are expecting an average to late budburst overall. We have delayed our winter pruning as long as possible to mitigate risk of certain vine diseases, but it will shortly be time to complete that operation and also get down weed control sprays within the rows. Right now, the local wild turkeys have the run of the vineyard, with spring courting in full display. The bright colors of the puffed up toms dancing around seemingly indifferent hens is a sight to behold…
We were gratified to receive many inquires about our grapes in the off-season, mostly from previous clients, and as is our custom, particularly for commercial clients who generally seek year-to-year consistency for their wines, have pre-committed much of our grapes. After that process, we still have some barbera that is available for reservation, and we will be making a decision as soon as possible on our Quinta field of Portuguese grapes. It is likely that at least a portion of those will be made available for home winemakers; details TBD. For our primitivo and non-Quinta (just refers to a different planting than our Quinta) touriga nacional, these are fully committed up to levels that we feel relatively confident about, based on past yields. However, as the season progresses and the size of the crop becomes evident, it is likely that we could have a couple tons of more primitivo and maybe some additional home winemaker quantities of touriga. We strongly encourage those interested in grapes for which no availability is showing to get on waitlist which we go through on a first-come, first-serve basis if and when more grapes becomes available. We are always happy to work with new clients.
We are looking forward with optimism to the 2018 season!