Current Grapes Available 6/17/21

VarietalAmount Still Available for Sale (tons)Expected Optimal Harvest TimePrice
(< 0.5 tons)
Price
(0.5 ton or more)
Barbera4.175mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Primitivo1.55early-mid Sept$1.00/lb$0.85/lb
Touriga (*Quinta)0.675mid-late Sept$1.15/lb$1.05/lb
Touriga (*Non-Quinta)0.825late Sept-early Oct$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Muscat BlancSOLD OUTlate Aug$1.00/lbNA
SouzaoSOLD OUTlate Sept-early Oct$1.00/lbNA
TempranilloSOLD OUTearly-mid Sept$1.00/lbNA
Tinta AmarelaSOLD OUTmid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Tinta CaoSOLD OUTmid-late Sept$1.00/lbNA
*”Quinta” refers to our block of 5 Iberian varietals planted in 2005; this is the Touriga Nacional from that block. “Non-Quinta” refers to Touriga Nacional grown in other blocks.

Current Grapes Available 6/2/21

VarietalAmount Still Available for Sale (tons)Expected Optimal Harvest TimePrice
(< 0.5 tons)
Price
(0.5 ton or more)
Barbera4.175mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Primitivo1.8early-mid Sept$1.00/lb$0.85/lb
Touriga (*Quinta)0.675mid-late Sept$1.15/lb$1.05/lb
Touriga (*Non-Quinta)0.825late Sept-early Oct$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Muscat BlancSOLD OUTlate Aug$1.00/lbNA
SouzaoSOLD OUTlate Sept-early Oct$1.00/lbNA
TempranilloSOLD OUTearly-mid Sept$1.00/lbNA
Tinta AmarelaSOLD OUTmid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Tinta CaoSOLD OUTmid-late Sept$1.00/lbNA
*”Quinta” refers to our block of 5 Iberian varietals planted in 2005; this is the Touriga Nacional from that block. “Non-Quinta” refers to Touriga Nacional grown in other blocks.

Vineyard Diary 5-27-21

Bloom is in the air and has been for the last 7-10 days. This is the inconspicuous beginning of fruit set from barely visible but pleasantly perfume-emitting flowers throughout the vineyard. It also marks the beginning of the end of the period of rapid shoot elongation that follows bud burst as the vines shift gears toward fruit development.

With the extremely dry April (0.2″ of rain) and May (0.3″ of rain), the top layers of soil are about as dry as they’ve ever been for this date for us, so short-cycle irrigation was begun to attempt to recharge the upper soil layers and provide regular water for our blocks on the Primitivo side with some young grafts. We got away with a single round of mowing of the grasses and clover between rows, and even that single pass left us with something like a dust bowl. We have never seen the grass and weed growth so weak, but we’re not complaining…it’s made spring maintenance a little easier, and lower weed burden means the weeds will use less of our scarce water vs. the vines as we move into the summer.

Shoot thinning was a major, labor-intensive operation as always, and it was only because of the help of a dedicated hired crew that we were able to complete this for the bulk of the vineyard in the last 3 weeks, with a little clean up work in the Quinta and last year’s grafted block to follow within the next few days. Beyond that, regular spraying for prevention of powdery mildew continues.

Apart from the dryness, it’s been an amazingly pleasant May on the farm, with cool daytime highs in the 70s to low 80s for much of May. It appears that we will not make it to June without a sudden foray into the 90’s predicted for the long Memorial Day weekend and extending into next week. However, we knew that the heat could not be restrained forever. Fortunately, much of the labor-intensive work will have been completed by then, and irrigation will begin in earnest.

We still have 1.5 tons or more of each of our main varietals Primitivo, Barbera, and Touriga available for reservation, though we do not expect that that will remain the case for long as commercial wineries begin to see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel. We are now sold out of all of our less abundant varietals, though our production estimates are usually conservative, and so we can entertain wait list requests for any of those.

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Current Grapes Available 5/26/21

VarietalAmount Still Available for Sale (tons)Expected Optimal Harvest TimePrice
(< 0.5 tons)
Price
(0.5 ton or more)
Barbera4.375mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Primitivo1.8early-mid Sept$1.00/lb$0.85/lb
Touriga (*Quinta)0.675mid-late Sept$1.15/lb$1.05/lb
Touriga (*Non-Quinta)0.825late Sept-early Oct$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Muscat BlancSOLD OUTlate Aug$1.00/lbNA
SouzaoSOLD OUTlate Sept-early Oct$1.00/lbNA
TempranilloSOLD OUTearly-mid Sept$1.00/lbNA
Tinta AmarelaSOLD OUTmid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Tinta CaoSOLD OUTmid-late Sept$1.00/lbNA
*”Quinta” refers to our block of 5 Iberian varietals planted in 2005; this is the Touriga Nacional from that block. “Non-Quinta” refers to Touriga Nacional grown in other blocks.

Current Grapes Available 5/14/21

VarietalAmount Still Available for Sale (tons)Expected Optimal Harvest TimePrice
(< 0.5 tons)
Price
(0.5 ton or more)
Barbera4.375mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Primitivo1.8early-mid Sept$1.00/lb$0.85/lb
Touriga (*Quinta)0.675mid-late Sept$1.15/lb$1.05/lb
Touriga (*Non-Quinta)1.825late Sept-early Oct$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Muscat BlancSOLD OUTlate Aug$1.00/lbNA
SouzaoSOLD OUTlate Sept-early Oct$1.00/lbNA
Tempranillo0.05**early-mid Sept$1.00/lbNA
Tinta Amarela0.2125mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Tinta Cao0.1875mid-late Sept$1.00/lbNA
*”Quinta” refers to our block of 5 Iberian varietals planted in 2005; this is the Touriga Nacional from that block. “Non-Quinta” refers to Touriga Nacional grown in other blocks. **250 lb (0.125 ton) minimum waived; 200 lb min.

Vineyard Diary 5-1-21

Vintage 2021 is in full swing as budburst began to ripple over the vineyard on April 1, reaching the Barbera by April 10 and the Primitivo and Touriga by April 20. We once again had miserly–well, zero–early fall rain, with the first autumn rain in 2020 not falling until just about Thanksgiving. There was some encouraging follow-through in December, and some solid intermittent rain in January and February, but only a single 1-week period that brought any real volume. Just as it appeared we’d salvage an okay rain year after a solid March for rainfall, April arrived, with its reputation for “showers” making the absence of same all the more painful: we logged 0.2 inches of rain for the entire month! We saw no snow (once again…) but seasonably cold temperatures through the winter. Temperatures have gradually warmed, but not to the uncomfortable level yet; it’s actually remained relatively cool and outside work-friendly through now. Spring in the Sierra Foothills is spectacular once the hillsides green up. Already though, the brown-out has begun…

So what does all of this mean for the 2021 vintage? Not much, really. Another drought year, with the near-complete absence of rain in April, following on a cool winter, has meant a late-ish budburst (portending a late-ish harvest), grass between rows remarkably under control (the native grasses and planted red clover already focused on setting seed for next year), and the likely need to begin irrigating earlier than usual. The quality of the vintage will be set largely by what happens between now and September weather-wise.

Shaker Ridge has used the opportunities presented by COVID-19 interruptions to experiment with new things and position for the future. Always aware that our Primitivo had its feet in 2 completely different soil types that meet in a gentle swale area that tended to collect extra irrigation water (besides rain water in winter), we have permanently removed some vines from the swale area, reasoning that they won’t be optimal for other varietals, either. To the west of the swale, on well-draining schist soil, we cut down about 500 Primitivo vines last year and grafted them over to certain Portuguese varietals that have proven to do well on our site: Touriga Nacional and Tinta Amarela. The budwood came from our beloved Quinta block. In addition–with no great conviction about how they will do but wanting to find out–we grafted a few partial rows of Primitivo to Cabernet Sauvignon, to which rows we added via plantings a handful of Merlot and Petite Verdot vines for a mini-Bordeaux block on a scale suitable only for home winemakers. We expect our first Cabernet this season, but will only use it ourselves while we learn about the viticulture. These Bordeaux varietals were grafted/planted on the highest altitude portion of our vineyard to give them their best shot in our view. Then, just last week, we cut down additional Primitivo vines west of the swale and planted our first GSM block—Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre. Again, the scale will only be suitable for home winemakers, but presents an opportunity to experiment with these Rhone varietals that are well-recognized to do well in the El Dorado AVA. Finally, we cut down one short row of Primitivo on the south side of the Primitivo block and grafted some additional Souzao, a Portuguese varietal that provides dark color and decent acidity to Portuguese blends and for which our yield has been declining. This addition should increase our total Souzao yield by over 50%. This last operation has isolated a corner of short rows of our Primitivo which will be used this season for some focused experimentation on optimizing Primitivo viticultural practices.

All of the above has left us with a smaller but more homogeneous and still commercial scale block of now 19-year old Primitivo vines that are now completely on the reddish, rocky, clay loam soil that we think grows our best (and certainly lowest yielding) Primitivo. We are committed to growing the highest quality Primitivo that we can, benefiting from our accumulated experience and continuing to test new practices.

As of this date, we still have availability of each of our major varietals: Barbera, Primitivo, and Touriga, and even a sprinkling of some others, as we are selling our Quinta block varietals separately this year, giving opportunity to make some more obscure varietal wines like Tinta Cao and Tinta Amarela. We look forward to a great 2021 vintage and hope that the commercial wineries in our region enjoy a “relief rally” to celebrate what we hope will be a return to normalcy in the coming months.

Current Grapes Available 4/28/21

VarietalAmount Still Available for Sale (tons)Expected Optimal Harvest TimePrice
(< 0.5 tons)
Price
(0.5 ton or more)
Barbera4.375mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Primitivo1.8early-mid Sept$1.00/lb$0.85/lb
Touriga (*Quinta)0.675mid-late Sept$1.15/lb$1.05/lb
Touriga (*Non-Quinta)1.825late Sept-early Oct$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Muscat BlancSOLD OUTlate Aug$1.00/lbNA
SouzaoSOLD OUTlate Sept-early Oct$1.00/lbNA
Tempranillo0.05**early-mid Sept$1.00/lbNA
Tinta Amarela0.2125mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Tinta Cao0.1875mid-late Sept$1.00/lbNA
*”Quinta” refers to our block of 5 Iberian varietals planted in 2005; this is the Touriga Nacional from that block. “Non-Quinta” refers to Touriga Nacional grown in other blocks. **250 lb (0.125 ton) minimum waived; 200 lb min.

Current Grapes Available 4/16/21

VarietalAmount Still Available for Sale (tons)Expected Optimal Harvest TimePrice
(< 0.5 tons)
Price
(0.5 ton or more)
Barbera4.375mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Primitivo1.8early-mid Sept$1.00/lb$0.85/lb
Touriga (*Quinta)0.75mid-late Sept$1.15/lb$1.05/lb
Touriga (*Non-Quinta)1.825late Sept-early Oct$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Muscat BlancSOLD OUTlate Aug$1.00/lbNA
SouzaoSOLD OUTlate Sept-early Oct$1.00/lbNA
Tempranillo0.05**early-mid Sept$1.00/lbNA
Tinta Amarela0.25mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Tinta Cao0.225mid-late Sept$1.00/lbNA
*”Quinta” refers to our block of 5 Iberian varietals planted in 2005; this is the Touriga Nacional from that block. “Non-Quinta” refers to Touriga Nacional grown in other blocks. **250 lb (0.125 ton) minimum waived; 200 lb min.

Current Grapes Available 3/29/21

VarietalAmount Still Available for Sale (tons)Expected Optimal Harvest TimePrice
(< 0.5 tons)
Price
(0.5 ton or more)
Barbera4.375mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Primitivo2.0early-mid Sept$1.00/lb$0.85/lb
Touriga (*Quinta)0.75mid-late Sept$1.15/lb$1.05/lb
Touriga (*Non-Quinta)1.825late Sept-early Oct$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Muscat BlancSOLD OUTlate Aug$1.00/lbNA
SouzaoSOLD OUTlate Sept-early Oct$1.00/lbNA
Tempranillo0.05**early-mid Sept$1.00/lbNA
Tinta Amarela0.25mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Tinta Cao0.225mid-late Sept$1.00/lbNA
*”Quinta” refers to our block of 5 Iberian varietals planted in 2005; this is the Touriga Nacional from that block. “Non-Quinta” refers to Touriga Nacional grown in other blocks. **250 lb (0.125 ton) minimum waived; 200 lb min.

Current Grapes Available 3/10/21

VarietalAmount Still Available for Sale (tons)Expected Optimal Harvest TimePrice
(< 0.5 tons)
Price
(0.5 ton or more)
Barbera4.375mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Primitivo3.0early-mid Sept$1.00/lb$0.85/lb
Touriga (*Quinta)0.75mid-late Sept$1.15/lb$1.05/lb
Touriga (*Non-Quinta)1.825late Sept-early Oct$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Muscat BlancSOLD OUTlate Aug$1.00/lbNA
SouzaoSOLD OUTlate Sept-early Oct$1.00/lbNA
Tempranillo0.05**early-mid Sept$1.00/lbNA
Tinta Amarela0.25mid-late Sept$1.00/lb$0.95/lb
Tinta Cao0.225mid-late Sept$1.00/lbNA
*”Quinta” refers to our block of 5 Iberian varietals; this is the Touriga Nacional from that block. “Non-Quinta” refers to Touriga Nacional grown in other blocks. **250 lb (0.125 ton) minimum waived; 200 lb min.