Vineyard Diary 3-30-20

It’s been an interesting start to the 2020 vintage to say the least. Weather-wise, it was a suitably cold but by no means frigid winter that coughed up a little rain in December, very little in January, and not a drop in February. March has come to the rescue with around 8 inches of rain, just in time to get the soil profile filled with moisture and for the warming temperatures to get some green growth started. Budburst is still barely visible in our earliest grape varietals–held back in part by late pruning of last year’s wood–but seems sure to burst forth in earnest later this week. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 virus and the measures to slow its spread are having a major impact on life in general, though farming generally goes on…social distancing comes relatively naturally in the vineyard. That said, local commercial wineries face closures of tasting rooms during what is normally a busy time of year for wine-tasting in the Sierra Foothills when temperatures are still cool enough to enjoy a red wine and it is particularly scenic, with green hillsides and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Completely independent of the COVID-19 situation, we had decided to scale back our grape growing this year to give ourselves a break from the routine, and this is reflected in our recently posted current grape availability. We are planning to farm our Touriga, a limited amount of Barbera, and are again selling grapes from our Quinta block of Portugese varietals as “shares”. As Tempranillo yield has been slowly declining over the years, we are adding a couple adjacent short rows of Tempranillo planted in 2004 to the Quinta, which we have been otherwise selling separately. These will enable buyers, with one-stop (a single designated Saturday TBD in mid-Sept to mid-Oct period) to pick up a field blend of our Portugese varietals in 250-lb with suitable ripeness for either a fortified (port-style) wine or as a complex red. We continue farming activities in the balance of the vineyard as normal for now, and will be making a final decision in the May time frame in terms of seeking a crop from our Primitivo and the balance of our Barbera. Please inquire if you have interest in these beyond posted quantities.