Vineyard Diary 1/8/23

Our last vineyard diary post in August looked forward optimistically to a soft landing for the 2022 vintage, hoping for a repeat of the remarkable 2012 vintage with moderate temperatures heading into harvest which August seemed poised to dish up. Unfortunately, that is not the hand that Mother Nature dealt in late August and the first half of September. Rather, we had one of the worst heat waves we’ve ever seen in those critical first few weeks of the harvest period, with our porch thermometer peaking at 118 F one afternoon, and a long string of days in the triple digits, including several days in the 110-115 range, after an otherwise reasonable summer heat-wise. The late heat wave was not what the doctor ordered, but we did the best we could. We were very pleased with the Primitivo that we harvested, which was ripe and some of the cleanest fruit we have ever seen. The brix could not help but creep to the upper 20’s, but the fruit was in excellent condition, and we had no major fires that impacted us. The Barbera was not so fortunate, as it needed to hang longer than the Primitivo into the worst of the heat wave, and its thin skin could not take the heat. We managed to get only a little Barbera off the vines, which was disappointing after a promising start. The Quinta fruit managed the heat okay but was just light in quantity due to some losses to early frost and generally lower yields in the vintage after a couple years of drought. The Touriga from our 2009 and 2020 fields was outstanding, and we were able to get all of this as well as our newer block of Tinta Amarela to waiting clients before fall rain became a problem. We harvested our last bin of Touriga Nacional for an up-and-coming commercial winery on September 24, 2022.

We’d like to thank all of the clients who bought fruit from us in 2022, navigating as always the twists and turns of harvest logistics and weather, and look forward to seeing and maybe even tasting some of the resulting wines some day.

Important Announcement for 2023

We wanted to let our clients and others know that Shaker Ridge will not be selling grapes commercially in 2023. Producing quality wine grapes requires dedicated attention for about 7 months of the year, and we’ve been putting in that dedicated work–vineyard manager and head farmer Elizabeth in particular–for 18 consecutive seasons now. This has been a tremendous journey and the fulfillment of a dream, but it hasn’t come without cost, principally the opportunity cost of all the other things we could have done with that time. We therefore plan to focus on family activities in 2023 and not produce any wine grapes commercially, as we would never want to do the latter to anything other than our highest standards. We’ll make a decision about future vintages in due course.

We’re grateful to family, friends, neighbors, and service providers who have helped us over the years, not the least of which has been many vineyard crews laboring in all kinds of weather–but often hot and dry–to get done what needed to get done when it needed to get done. We are also grateful to the dozens of clients over the years–commercial and home winemakers–who have bought our grapes and made so many memorable wines with them. Your success is our proudest accomplishment.

We would encourage you to check out one of the many other fine El Dorado County grape growers in the El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association (, of which we are a longtime member, for your 2023 wine grape needs.