Current Grape Availability 8-5-18

 

Varietal Amount Still Available for Sale (tons) Expected Optimal Harvest Time Price ($)/lb

 

Barbera 1.5 Mid Sept 1.10
Primitivo 0.5 Earl Sept 1.10
Tempranillo* Waitlist Early Sept 1.15
Quinta** Waitlist Mid-Late Sept 1.15
 Touriga* Waitlist Late Sept-Early Oct 1.10

*Non-Quinta=Portugese varietals not part of Quinta field.

**The Quinta = touriga nacional, tempranillo, tinta cao, souzao, tinta amarela field planted in 2005

 

Waitlist:    If you would like to get on the waitlist for a given varietal, please contact us.  Home winemkaer quantities of Quinta grapes may become available, and larger amounts of primitivo, barbera, and touriga all remains possible.

 

Vineyard Diary-7-28-18

We always begin writing these blogs by reading the prior one, to see where the story left off. In this case, the prior installment seems like a different narrative, or a long forgotten epoch in history, that we would be talking about the amazingly cool spring.  Like someone hit a switch, we transitioned abruptly in mid-June to typical summer Sierra Foothills heat.  By now, we have certainly hit triple digits on multiple occasions, with the surges now going from the low 90’s (which now feel like “cool” days) to the upper 90’s to low 100’s.  Actually, we enjoyed some astoundingly pleasant weather–we’re talking  75 F–at the annual 4th of July parade in nearby Plymouth, but the 4th was definitely the exception and the low point (for daytime highs) in the last 6 weeks.  As of this writing in late July, we are just grateful to have avoided the really high heat that this climate can also produce–into the 103-110 range.  We dream of another pre-harvest period like 2012 when the thermometer was stuck in the low 90’s (for daytime highs) for over 4 weeks heading into harvest.

The part of the narrative that has not changed since our last installment is that the vintage continues to progress very nicely.  The fruit set was robust–at least average, probably above average in the primitivo–and the vines are healthy and green.  We’ve had virtually no issue with powdery mildew, and as we get into veraison (grapes turning color)–which started on July 18 with our tempranillo and is now widely evident in our primitivo–we are looking at one more preventative spraying at most before we are in the clear on that front for 2018.  Veraison in our tempranillo always signals the immediate need to deploy our unique overhead bird netting in the Quinta block that allows us full access to the vines while greatly hindering songbird access.  This has now been completed.  The deployment of netting, in turns, signals our house cats’ favorite time of the year when they take advantage of a buffet of our local avian visitors which become entangled trying to penetrate said nets.

We recently had an annual but unusually brazen visit from a member of the local black bear population.  Normally these large visitors come at night around harvest time for grapes, partially squashing a section of our outer vineyard fencing in the process.  In this case, a bear was spotted in the vineyard in broad daylight, well before harvest.  We think it was drawn in so early by ripe peaches from our home orchard, which were giving off a scent that must have been too much and caused the bear to throw all caution to the wind.   In reality, that caution is best reserved for the farmers, who would be no match for the speed and power of one of these guys.  Fortunately for us, the bear chose to hightail it out the back fence once spotted.

We are irrigating regularly now, rotating among the blocks (the entire vineyard cannot be watered at once), monitoring water levels in the soil and keeping the vines hydrated short of the wilting point.  So far, ground water has held up just fine, but without a weather break in August, we could start seeing signs of well fatigue.

As a result of the solid fruit set, we are confident enough in yield to make available an additional ton of primitivo and an additional ton of barbera for pre-sale/reservation.  Additional fruit may become available, including possibly a few hundred pounds of Quinta fruit suitable for a red blend or port-style blend.  If you do not see the grapes available that you are looking for in our postings, we encourage you to reach out and get yourself placed on our waitlist.  The season is moving along quickly, and by the next blog we will be talking about harvest, which should begin in early September and extend through early October, depending on varietal.  As always, we look forward to seeing our clients in person again.

Current Grape Availability 7-27-18

 

Varietal Amount Still Available for Sale (tons) Expected Optimal Harvest Time Price ($)/lb

 

Barbera 2.0 Mid Sept 1.10
Primitivo 1.0 Earl Sept 1.10
Tempranillo* Waitlist Early Sept 1.15
Quinta** Waitlist Mid-Late Sept 1.15
 Touriga* Waitlist Late Sept-Early Oct 1.10

*Non-Quinta=Portugese varietals not part of Quinta field.

**The Quinta = touriga nacional, tempranillo, tinta cao, souzao, tinta amarela field planted in 2005

 

Waitlist:    If you would like to get on the waitlist for a given varietal, please contact us.  Home winemkaer quantities of Quinta grapes may become available, and larger amounts of primitivo, barbera, and touriga all remains possible.

 

Vineyard Diary 6-9-18

It’s been a spectacular spring in the Sierra Foothills.  It started with abundant March and April rains (following a dry winter), and the temperatures have remained unusually mild.  As this is written on June 9, we are looking at partly cloudy skies (yes, those white things we rarely see in summer after May!) and highs in the mid-70’s.  An occasional cool off happens here, but to get this far into the season with no triple-digit days and only a couple as warm as 90 degrees F, that qualifies as a cool spring…  We will see if this summer turns out to be an overall cool one as we last had in 2011 (and like for our grapes). The late rain, though welcome, tended to concentrate what is already an intense period of activity in the vineyard in spring with mowing and the start of regular preventative spraying for fungal diseases, in addition to petiole sampling and the start-up of irrigation.  However, the cooler-than-normal weather has made all of that bearable for the growers.  We received our last rain–what we expect will be the last until September or October–at the usual time right before Memorial Day weekend.

As we sit now in early June, the vineyard is in fantastic shape.  Shoot thinning was completed–in a major operation–at the optimal time.  The vines look healthy and are almost done their linear shoot growth for the year.  Having recently set fruit–“bloom” happened in the last 1-2 weeks–the vines are about to switch gears toward fruit growth.  As the berries grow in size, we will soon get an idea about the quality and quantity of fruit set for the vintage.  So far though, it looks quite promising out there, and weed control is good.

On the wine competition front, primitivo grapes made with our 2016 grapes into vineyard-designated wines by two commercial wineries, Due Vigne di Famiglia out of Clarksburg and Oakstone Winery out of Fair Play, both captured silver medals in the commercial wine competition of the 2018 El Dorado County Fair.  Due Vigne additionally picked up a bronze for a barbera wine made from our 2016 grapes.  Congratulations to the winemakers.  On the home winemaker front, a dry red blend made from our Quinta block, also 2016 vintage, won a Double Gold at the 2018 El Dorado County Fair, and a touriga nacional (non-Quinta) earned a bronze.  The former added to a long list of high honors for our Quinta block of Portugese varietals.

We are down to 1 ton of 2018 barbera that is uncommitted; otherwise, we welcome wait list requests for most of our varietals.  Please see our “Grapes Available” postings which we always try to keep current.

Current Grape Availability 6-9-18

 

Varietal Amount Still Available for Sale (tons) Expected Optimal Harvest Time Price ($)/lb

 

Barbera 1.0 Mid Sept 1.10
Primitivo Waitlist Earl Sept 1.10
Tempranillo* Waitlist Early Sept 1.15
Quinta** Waitlist Mid-Late Sept 1.15
 Touriga* Waitlist Late Sept-Early Oct 1.10

*Non-Quinta=Portugese varietals not part of Quinta field.

**The Quinta = touriga nacional, tempranillo, tinta cao, souzao, tinta amarela field planted in 2005

 

Waitlist:  Yields are conservatively estimated at this early junction in the season; additional quantities–up to 2 tons of primitivo, up to half a ton of touriga, may become available at the posted prices, with first refusal offered to waitlist clients in the order waitlist requests are received.   If you would like to get on the waitlist for a given varietal, please contact us.

 

Current Grape Availability 4-25-18

 

Varietal Amount Still Available for Sale (tons) Expected Optimal Harvest Time Price ($)/lb

 

Barbera 1.25 Mid Sept 1.10
Primitivo Waitlist Earl Sept 1.10
Tempranillo* Waitlist Early Sept 1.15
Quinta** Waitlist Mid-Late Sept 1.15
 Touriga* Waitlist Late Sept-Early Oct 1.10

*Non-Quinta=Portugese varietals not part of Quinta field.

**The Quinta = touriga nacional, tempranillo, tinta cao, souzao, tinta amarela field planted in 2005

 

Waitlist:  Yields are conservatively estimated at this early junction in the season; additional quantities–up to 2 tons of primitivo, up to half a ton of touriga, may become available at the posted prices, with first refusal offered to waitlist clients in the order waitlist requests are received.   If you would like to get on the waitlist for a given varietal, please contact us.

 

Vineyard Diary 4-17-18

Spring rainfall has continued to be generous (and welcome) in El Dorado:  the expression “better late than never” definitely applies.  One could argue that it’s not the best scenario for the annual fight against weeds, as weeds generally have much shallower roots than our well-established grapevines, which means that if the top soil layers are dried out, the grapevines can manage and the weeds will relatively suffer.  However, the weeds and grasses will come regardless–it’s just a matter of degree–and since we have ways of dealing with them, net net we prefer a full soil profile of water by the time the vines bud out to delay the need to irrigate the vines, possibly till early June.   What is certain is that the rains will stop before too long, and the long, arid summer will begin.

The above said, the timing of things wasn’t exactly convenient this year, and to get the winter pruning done (we finally got a crew in at the end of March) and weed control spray down between rains, our vineyard manager (who happens to be my hard-working wife) needed to miss a family vacation over Easter to make sure everything happened when it needed to.  This sort of dedication–and the experience to know that the dedication was needed–is what comes with 15+ of grape growing.  As in other lines of endeavor, experience counts, and we like to think that we learn from our mistakes at Shaker Ridge.

Budburst arrived immediately after pruning for our earliest grape varieties, such as muscat canelli, our barbera pushed perhaps a week later, and our primitivo is now starting to push.  Overall, it has been a somewhat late budburst, which would tend to predict a somewhat late harvest, perhaps a little past the mean.  However, this should be no problem in our climate and with our varietals, and with typical weather for our site we should have no trouble ripening our grapes.

We ended up making a portion of our Quinta block available for sale, and would still take waitlist requests on specific varietals within that for home winemaker quantities, touriga nacional and tinta cao being the most likely to offer some surplus.  Otherwise, we still have about 1 1/3 tons of barbera still available for sale without the need for a waitlist.

We are looking forward to wine judging season and hope that some grapes we’ve provided in the past contribute to some great wines for our clients.

 

Current Grape Availability 4-17-18

 

Varietal Amount Still Available for Sale (tons) Expected Optimal Harvest Time Price ($)/lb

 

Barbera 1.375 Mid Sept 1.10
Primitivo Waitlist Earl Sept 1.10
Tempranillo* Waitlist Early Sept 1.15
Quinta** Waitlist Mid-Late Sept 1.15
 Touriga* Waitlist Late Sept-Early Oct 1.10

*Non-Quinta=Portugese varietals not part of Quinta field.

**The Quinta = touriga nacional, tempranillo, tinta cao, souzao, tinta amarela field planted in 2005

 

Waitlist:  Yields are conservatively estimated at this early junction in the season; additional quantities–up to 2 tons of primitivo, up to half a ton of touriga, may become available at the posted prices, with first refusal offered to waitlist clients in the order waitlist requests are received.   If you would like to get on the waitlist for a given varietal, please contact us.

 

Current Grape Availability 3-25-18

 

Varietal Amount Still Available for Sale (tons) Expected Optimal Harvest Time Price ($)/lb

 

Barbera 1.5 Mid Sept 1.10
Primitivo Waitlist Earl Sept 1.10
Tempranillo* Waitlist Early Sept 1.15
Quinta** Waitlist Mid-Late Sept 1.15
 Touriga* Waitlist Late Sept-Early Oct 1.10

*Non-Quinta=Portugese varietals not part of Quinta field.

**The Quinta = touriga nacional, tempranillo, tinta cao, souzao, tinta amarela field planted in 2005

 

Waitlist:  Yields are conservatively estimated at this early junction in the season; additional quantities–up to 2 tons of primitivo, up to half a ton of touriga, may become available at the posted prices, with first refusal offered to waitlist clients in the order waitlist requests are received.   If you would like to get on the waitlist for a given varietal, please contact us.

 

Vineyard Diary 3-10-18

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!