Vineyard Diary 10-1-16

On the morning of September 30, we–the royal we–completed our last harvest for 2016.  As anyone who follows California viticulture can appreciate, wine grape vintages are a little bit like the children of Lake Wobegon–they’re all above average (at least until the wines made from them are all sold).  We’ve been doing this long enough to know that that’s not only mathematically impossible, it’s not true:  some really are below average.  However, 2016 was not one of them.  In terms of timing, the vintage was only slightly later than last year’s historically early vintage.  However, at least at Shaker Ridge, we had no frost damage, no issues with powdery mildew, plenty of sunshine without excessive heat and wind for most of the growing season, and a relatively high yield that we were able to fully ripen.  It was also the first year we employed the services of a vineyard manager to remove some of the burden of vineyard logistics, but we remained heavily involved nonetheless, particularly as harvest approached.

It was certainly on the warm side in late August and much of September, but we’ve seen a lot worse, and apart from our barbera which got partially nuked (lowering yield) by the high heat from a string of triple-digit days in July, ripening conditions were reasonable, there was no rain after May, and the grapes managed just fine.  In the end, we had a record harvest of nearly 21 tons that went to 4 commercial wineries and approximately 20 home winemakers.

We thank, as always, our clients for working with us with harvest logistics, keeping commitments, arriving on time to pick up grapes, and in many cases sharing wine that you have prepared from our grapes in the past.  In that regard, a special thanks to Thad Rogers of the Sacramento Home Winemakers (SHW) for sharing his 2014 primitivo made from our grapes that stunned the cabernet- and Rhone-focused wine judging circuit by taking Best of Reds at the SHW’s Jubilee competition this year, a remarkable accomplishment that reminds us why we do this.  And by the end of the season, that’s a reminder we usually need.

We plan to be on time next year in posting availability and pricing of grapes for 2017 by the end of January, but will consider requests for reservations on a case-by-case basis.  Until then, we hope you enjoy the “off season,” as we certainly intend to!

“Here in a small town, where it feels like home,

I’ve got everything I need, and nothing that I don’t.”

–Zac Brown Band (“Homegrown”)

Vineyard Diary-8-10-16

We find ourselves in the home stretch of another vineyard season that, all in all, has gone well.  June was quite cool and pleasant by Sierra Foothills standards but gave way to a classically hot July, including a stretch of a week or more in late July in the low triple digits.  That sun/heat certainly took out part of our barbera crop, as it is particularly sensitive to high heat, and the high heat would have done more damage had veraison been a little more advanced (the riper berries being more susceptible).  Our other vines showed water stress, but the fruit handled the heat better.  We irrigate, rotating among blocks, nearly around the clock at this time of year just to keep up, and are always jealous hearing of other vineyards with deeper soils that claim not to need to water more than once or twice per season.   It must be nice!  But for those who subscribe to the struggling vine theory of grape growing—basically that vines need to struggle a little to produce quality wine grapes—rest assured that our vines struggle in July/August!

We are seeing our usual unwelcome late season weeds like mare’s tail and star thistle.  While it doesn’t help the weed control, we have finally discovered an animal that eats these and actually seems to like them:  goats.  We agreed to take care of some goats for a friend who, let’s just say, had grown unattached to the critters and was happy to see them go.  So, while we can’t trust the goats to roam the vineyard and eat the weeds—as they’d likely prefer the grapevines—we do get some satisfaction manually pulling the weeds and giving them to the goats to eat in their pasture.

Speaking of eating, nobody eats better than our indoor-outdoor house cat at this time of year.  With the deployment of the bird netting—which was unfurled with a little less cussing and marital strain than usual this year since we hired help to expedite that process—song birds are on a more even footing with our cat as they can’t simply “fly off” if they find themselves trapped inside the net munching on grapes.  The athleticism shown by our tom is truly remarkable when he’s got a semi- confined bird in his sights.  Other birds simply get themselves tangled, but they don’t remain there for more than 24 hours thanks to numerous nocturnal carnivores that seem to find them very quickly.  And this doesn’t include our local brown bear whose annual appearance has been signaled by scrunched vineyard fencing and characteristic skat.  Flocks of wild turkey are mostly in our garden but are finding their way toward the grapes.

The primitivo is a light crop this year, and we lightened the burden further on the vines by removing seconds just prior to netting the entire field in late July.  The clusters, which as noted previously experienced high “shatter” this year, have filled out somewhat with larger berries, and we hope to have enough fruit for everybody.  By getting the bird nets on as early as we did, we should maximize what was there, and we think the light crop (combined with an early-ish year) may spell another late August harvest.  We will begin sampling the primitivo grapes and posting the chemistry this coming weekend.

We will be in touch in the coming weeks with those who have confirmed grape orders for the 2016 season.  A slight surplus cannot be ruled out for any of our varietals (though less likely for primitivo), so if anyone is interested in fruit who didn’t reserve any before we sold out, please contact us and we would be happy to put you on a waitlist.  Otherwise, we will post available grapes on this site once our commitments are met, at which point you’ll need to move fast.

Vineyard Diary 6-24-16

Bloom (flowering) came and went in mid-May as expected, encountering fair and relatively rain-free weather.  Fruit set happened thereafter of course, and the growth of berries and filling out of clusters has been rapid since.  We appear to have gotten decent fruit set across varietals, with only the primitivo showing relatively high “shatter” (loss of berries that results in less full clusters).  In moderation, we like shatter in the primitivo, as it produces the looser clusters that we prefer for healthy fruit and full ripening.  We’ll need to assess the impact on yield in a couple weeks, but the amount of shatter appears to be within the range of normal, and as we target a modest 2 tons/acre in the primitivo, we currently expect to be able to accomodate the loss.

The last few dribbles of rain came about a week before Memorial Day, and it’s been dry since and likely to remain so until October or so.  The weather was remarkably pleasant through most of June, with a heat wave taking us in to the 90s only in the last week or so.  So overall it’s been a relatively cool growing season thus far, and that was reflected in how long we were able to hold off providing any irrigation. High heat is forecast to return soon, though as long as it stays in the 90s as opposed to the 100s, it’s nothing the fruit and vines can’t handle.  Meanwhile, the cover crops and natural grasses have browned in normal California summer fashion, ending the frantic spring season that includes repeated mowing.

We received more exciting news on the home winemaker competition front, this time from the Sacramento Home Winemaker Jubilee competition.  Thad Rogers won Best of Red honors with a 2014 primitivo wine made with our fruit, which is quite an honor considering that dry reds are the most crowded category in just about any California winemaking competition, and puts primitivo up against “noble” reds like cabernet sauivgnon that judges often favor.  The primitivo unfortunately missed Best of Show honors, but only because it lost to a 2014 port-style wine made with Portugese varietals also grown at Shaker Ridge and produced by Linda Skinner. For those not familiar with the Sacramento Home Winemakers, they are a large group of people serious about making great wine, they are well-connected, and they are not shy about sourcing fruit from all over Northern California, including Napa and coastal areas.  Thus, we are quite gratified to have not just one but two wines made with fruit from our small Sierra Foothills vineyard go into wines that showed so well among wines produced from some of the finest vineyards in the state. Congratulations to the winemakers!

By the next update, we should be in a position to see if yield is such that it would be worthwhile to start a waitlist for our sold out varietals.  Currently, the only fruit we have available for sale is a home winemaker sort of quantity of tinta cao, a very good blender used in port-style (or dry) Portugese blends.


Vineyard Diary – 5/10/16

It has been a typical, busy spring thanks to warming temperatures, rapid growth of both vines and cover crops, and intermittent rain.  May usually brings the last throes of rain– not in great volume but with just enough frequency to be annoying from the standpoint of applying sprays for mildew control.  We are well past full budburst at this point, with rapidly growing shoots and the future fruit clusters ready to flower very soon.  Overall, nature is telling us that the season is about a week “early” vs. our long-term average, so we should be harvesting everything in the very late August to early October time frame. The weather looks fair in the near-term, which should provide good conditions for a successful fruit set.  With solid average rainfall, we are hopeful that irrigation will be a non-issue for us this year.  We think we have avoided any frost damage to date and should be in the clear now.

We have recently completed shoot thinning for the entire vineyard, so the vineyard looks as neat as it is going to until the leaves have fallen in fall.  Shoot thinning is a critical operation to focus the energy of the vines on their fruitful shoots and to open up the canopy for better air circulation, resulting in more effective mildew control and penetration of sunlight for eventual ripening.  We expect additional mowing and many more passes for mildew prevention until we’ll be on cruise control for harvest.

On the competition circuit, we were pleased to hear that the Best-of-Show “other” (other than Red or White) wine at the California State Fair Home Winemaker competition was taken by a Portugese-style port wine made by a client with grapes from our Quinta field grown in 2011.  This adds to a growing resume for our Quinta field of Portugese varietals that includes a Best of Show (El Dorado County Fair), Double Gold (Orange County Fair) in home winemaker competitions and Gold (San Francisco Chronicle) and Best of Class of Region (California State Fair) among commercial winery competitions.  We believe there are several more excellent wines in the pipeline both from home winemakers and commercial winemakers.

As we foreshadowed last time, demand was brisk this year, and we quickly sold out of most of our “paper stocks” of grapes for 2016.  Once we see fruit set we’ll be better able to assess if there is the potential for additional availability, in which case we will take waitlist requests.  We do not anticipate large (eg, ton quantities) of any of our varietals to become available, but a few hundred pounds up to a half ton is plausible.  We do still have the full complement, which should only be 400-500 lbs, of tinta cao currently available for sale from the Quinta block mentioned above.  Tinta cao easily makes the most beautiful-looking grapes we grow. The vines produce small, loose bunches of firm grapes with little or now raisining and have been used successfully by some as a single varietal in dry wines, but are generally blended with other Portugese varietals, often in dessert wines.

Vineyard Diary-4-1-16

There’s something strangely apropos about making the first vineyard diary posting on April 1…not that one couldn’t do a wiser thing than own a vineyard!

Winter rains seemed abundant, and certainly northern California saw its best rainfall in several years.  But some of that apparent abundance came from the high frequency of forecasts of rain rather than actual rain, and some from the contrast to the recent string of drier years.  Overall, there is a sense of relief because some reservoirs are filled, and snow pack in the Sierra is near long-term averages, but our rain tallies and those we follow generally support the conclusion that we are having just an average wet season in terms of actual precipitation. That will serve our purposes at Shaker Ridge, but it’s unlikely to end the overall water shortage in California.

Budburst in our barbera was evident by March 25, which is about a week later than last year.  The overall budburst picture hasn’t played out, but we suspect that the barbera will be indicative of the trend overall which is likely to be another early-ish year, but not as extreme as last year.  December brought cold and okay rain, January was very wet, February was warm and dry, and March was fairly wet.  So, the warm February set us up for a very early budburst that was prevented only by the cloudiness and rain of early March.  We’ll be susceptible to frost for another 6 weeks or so, but if we can get past that, we should be in good shape.

Winter pruning was completed on a single day this year–March 2–actually just before a series of rains would have made it a wet and messy operations.  Those same rains caused us to take awhile to be able to mulch the prunings into the soil, but that was finally completed last week.  So, we’re enjoying the brief period when our now predominantly 14-yo vertical cordon vines show their old wood and look neat and under control.

We delayed our traditional end-of-January posting of grape availability as we made arrangements to engage a professional vineyard manager to help us out this year, primarily so that we would have a little more flexibilty to do the kind of things that normal families do in summer.  Also, while a grape farmer tends to become very good at farming their particular piece of land in a certain way, it’s healthy now and again to get some outside perspective in management practices, and so we hope our transition to a different working model will not only maintain the quality that we aspire to but improve on it.  The main impact of our new model on our clients is that we will have less flexibility for multiple harvests, and so we will be looking to harvest on a more limited schedule set, to a large extent, by our main commercial winery clients.

While much of our inventory has been committed to returning clients, we’re happy to have some availability across most of the varietals that we grow, including barbera, primitivo, touriga, tempranillo, and tinta cao.  However, interest has been high, and we would encourage those thinking about our fruit to commit early.  We look forward to a successful 2016 growing season.

Vineyard Diary 9-22-15

Another successful growing season is now in the books, closing out earlier than ever in our history, at least since we added commercial Portugese varietal offerings.  Our last harvest was an unusually non-frenetic one on September 20, with only a ton plus of touriga to pick, and a small crew on hand to help with that.  The last act for the vineyard season–hardly an exciting one–is bringing in the last of the bird netting.  We have no good words for bird netting except that it works–particularly when coupled with vigilant house cats that patrol the netting daily.  Our 1-yo tom was particularly entertaining as he learned the ropes and got more than his share of avian snacks.

August and early/mid September weather was generally a tailwind to our efforts, with temperatures mostly in the lower 90-degree region.  We did experience one last blast of high heat in late August  which brought unwelcome drying and only compounded the trends of a vintage in which brix tended to run high relative to other measures of ripeness.  But you have to expect some of that high heat in the Sierra Foothills, and at least there was no rain, which would be an unwelcome visitor in the immediate pre-harvest period.  Fortunately, our irrigation water held out till the end, we think in part due to our altered pattern of irrigation to water primarily at night.  Nevertheless, we hope the winter rains are abundant this year to re-charge the soil and our well.

In the end, we harvested over 14 tons of grapes, over 77% of that sold to out-of-county clients, providing wine grapes to 3 commercial wineries and about 20 home winemakers. Production was off mainly due to very low yield in our barbera field, where fruit set this year was characterized by unusually small, thin bunches.  We nevertheless dropped fruit in this field when individual vines were overcropped, and also to even out the ripening (fruit set also appeared to occur over a relatively long period).  The net effect was a small quantity of what we believe was concentrated fruit with excellent color (the latter per our customers).

Congratulations go out to Terry Piazza-Perham, who sealed victory in our third annual Shaker Ridge Home Winemaker contest with a double gold at the Sacramento Home Winemakers 2015 Jubilee competition.  Terry took the honors with a dry touriga wine made from grapes purchased from us in 2013.  On the commercial front, we are looking forward to the release of the 2014 primitivo from Due Vigne di Famiglia (Clarksburg, CA) made with our grapes, which we understand has been bottled.  The 2013 Westwood Family Cellars El Dorado Barbera, made with our grapes and notching Best of Class of Region at the California State Fair this year, is now available for sale from the producer.

As we contemplate possible changes to our operation in the coming year, we thank all of our clients for their support and wish you the best in your winemaking.  We also thank our neighbors on Mesquite Ct who pitch in every year at harvest time for our large picks, and the hard-working hired crews that supplement our own efforts to make the growing and harvest of high-quality wine grapes possible.

And if I claim to be a wise man,

Well, it surely means that I don’t know.

-Kansas, “Carry on Wayward Son”


Vineyard Diary 7/27/15

July has for the most part provided outstanding weather for the grapevines:  seasonably warm but not too hot.  Needless to say for El Dorado County and most of California, there was no rain.  July started out hot, like June, and is poised to finish that way with a string of days predicted to be in the triple digits.  However, the break in the middle was key for us in conserving irrigation water and in providing a window of opportunity for fruit dropping.

Fruit dropping/thinning, as we discuss every year, is for us an absolutely essential component of producing quality fruit.  It runs directly counter to the sensibilities of many farmers and grape growers, as it involves (at least with outside help) paying for labor to decrease the amount of fruit that can be harvested.  Since the only equation that matters for some is yield x price = $$, paying to decrease yield is foreign if not insane.  But not to us.  From experience on our site, we know approximately how much fruit our vines can carry and fully ripen.  Given time, and with no fruit dropping, grapevines may appear to ripen all they carry–and no doubt on some sites, with some varietals–this can and does happen.  However, in many cases, the grapes (assuming red grape varietals) may appear at a casual glance to be blue/purple, but on close inspection the color is actually less dense than in a fully ripe cluster, and the taste is anything but fully ripe.  The reason for this is that a vine has a finite capacity to fully ripen grapes and, since its biological purpose isn’t necessarily to produce grapes for excellent red wine, it may produce far more grapes than it can fully ripen.  Fruit dropping, then, can bring the vine into “balance”.

Thanks to a wonderful stretch of weather in the 80’s last week, we were able, with a mere 150 or so hours of work, to adjust fruit loads in our barbera and primitivo fields with fruit dropping.  This was key, because the same operation done in 100-degree weather–apart from being almost untenable by mid-day–is likely to result in sunburn in clusters left behind (retained) after fruit thinning.  Fruit thinning is most effective when done early enough in the season to impact the ripening of what is left, and so doing it already near veraison for both barbera and primitivo was ideal.  In short, Mother Nature gave us a little opening last week, and we took it!  And with the last powdery mildew prevention spray of the season just applied, we are ready for our favorite operation of the year (NOT): bird netting.  Actually, our Quinta block has been netted for almost 3 weeks now, which we were prompted to do by veraison in the tempranillo already by July 3.  The birds show every sign of being aggressive on stealing fruit this year, which has been a delight to our house cats, which position themselves in and around bird netting, waiting for one to get stuck.  We witnessed our 2 yo tom stalk one such bird, leap high within a net, grab the bird and get his paws caught in the net, briefly, dangling in mid-air at full extension.  It would have made a terrific YouTube video had we been ready to capture it!

Because we have been successful in conserving water while otherwise maintaining all 4 blocks of our barbera, we were able to clear our waiting list for barbera by confirming availability of fruit for those on the list and make an additional 1.5 tons available for sale.  Fruit load overall appears light in the primitivo and touriga, so it remains to be seen whether we will be able to provide fruit for our waitlisted clients for those varietals.

Vineyard Diary 6-26-15

June has been payback time after an exceptionally pleasant May weather-wise.  It can be described in 3 words:  sunny, hot, and dry.  Following an isolated rain event on June 10  that clearly capped the “rainy season”, we have consistently been in the 90s to low 100s in temperatures, with no relief in sight.  We can hardly expect less for July and August, so the key will be spending as little time as possible in the upper 90’s/100s.

In the vineyard, we are enjoying a slight lull before more handwork resumes.  The weeds between rows have at last exhausted surface water and won’t grow back now after 3 rounds of cutting.  The vines are looking healthy and squarely focused now on berry development.  After getting some warning signals from our well, we are altering our irrigation pattern to maximize irrigation efficiency.  Going forward, we will only be watering at night when evaporation will be less.  Limiting irrigation to night will have the effect of drawing from our well more gradually, giving it time to recharge.  This will result in less “deep” irrigation than we would like, but it’s what we need to do to get through the season.

The next major operation will be fruit dropping, which will need to be timed to maximize impact and minimize sunburn, and yet as soon as practical following the last powdery mildew prevention spray so that we can then deploy bird netting.  If bird (and skunk, and raccoon, and squirrel!) pressure on our other fruit is any indication, we’ll want to get those nets on early to protect the grapes.

Fruit set looks decent overall, with what looks like plenty of crop in the barbera, and lighter but adequate crop in the primitivo due to “shatter” (loss of berries after fruit set) that is typical and variable year-to-year in primitivo.  The fruit load in the Portugese varietals look about average.  We’ll adjust crop to where we want it with fruit dropping in a few weeks.

Wine judging season, driven primarily by the State Fair this year for us on the commercial side, has yielded some big winners.  Though not identified with vineyard designated bottlings, a barbera and a touriga wine made with our fruit earned high honors at the California State Fair.  The 2013 El Dorado barbera from Westwood Family Cellars took a gold, best of class of region.  This means that, in the opinion of the judges, it was the best barbera from the Sierra Foothills region (encompassing El Dorado, Amador, Calveras, and several other counties) at the State Fair this year.  Considering that Amador and El Dorado counties have established themselves as the source of much-and we believe some of the finest-varietal barbera in the state, this is quite an achievement.  Wreckless Blenders’ 2013 barbera, also made with our fruit, captured a solid silver medal in the same competition.

We were equally excited to see that Wreckless Blenders’ 2013 touriga–made from our grapes and blended with a little barbera also from our vineyard–took a gold medal, best of class of region, at the State Fair.  This is the same wine that we blogged about enthusiastically after tasting it a couple months ago.  The varied microclimate, soil, and terrain of our region support quite a variety of excellent miscellaneous varietals, so best of class in a category of miscellaneous red varietal blends is a gratifying result for a varietal that we particularly favor here at Shaker Ridge.  This wonderful touriga is currently available for sale directly from Wreckless Blenders.

Finally, in our 3rd Annual Home Winemaker competition, we can’t yet declare a winner, but we have an entrant with a commanding lead at this point.  Terry Piazza-Perham’s 2013 touriga wine captured a double gold at the Sacramento Home Winemakers 2015 Jubilee competition, one of only a handful of double golds awarded there.  This puts her in a clear lead over a pair of 2013 primitivos, one from Tom Montgomery and one from Steve Barrett, which earned respectable bronze medals in the same competition.  While entries are still possible per our contest rules, judging has already occurred in a number of the regional wine competitions, and the double gold should prove difficult to top (would require further distinction like best of class or show…).

We expect to be able to update our barbera availability next month with the water availability situation hopefully more clear at that point.  We hope to be able to confirm availability for some on our waiting list and may have additional fruit to offer.

Vineyard Diary 5-30-15

May 2015 has been an astoundingly beautiful month in El Dorado, with generally mild weather and enough cloudy days to delay the inevitable browning out of the hillsides and postpone the need for irrigation in the vineyard.  We finally did see the very earliest indications of water stress in our vines and completed a full cycle of irrigation this past week.  However, the way things had been going in late winter/early spring, we were expecting this to begin much sooner, so this was a pleasant surprise.

The vines are now fully grown and looking fantastic.  We have completed shoot-thinning on a vineyard-wide basis, finishing with the block of barbera with the deepest soil for which the relative delay in thinning should have helped sap some of their natural vigor.  We are seeing no signs of powdery mildew despite excellent conditions for the same, no doubt due to our regular preventative spraying regimen, which so far this season has been with all organic materials.

Bloom is pretty much wrapped up in the barbera and primitivo vineyards now, and we also did a second round of suckering of lower shoots vineyard-wide while repairing and firing up the irrigation system for the season.  We have also tucked shoots in the Quinta, our only trellised block of vines.  It is too early to say how fruit set went for certain, but based on the initial appearance of the berries and the generally fair weather during bloom, we anticipate no problems.

We are now officially sold out of all of our varietals for the 2015 season, though we are still taking wait-list requests for our main three varietals:  barbera, primitivo, and touriga in case there is a slight excess of available fruit. The barbera is most likely to have significant quantities of fruit later available, as we are still holding back posting the production of two blocks of our barbera due to the drought:  one that we expect we will ultimately have to sell and one that we doubt that we will have to sell.  We will offer this fruit on a first-come, first-served basis from our waitlist that we post regularly in conjunction with our “Current Grape Availability” postings.

We are still accepting entries for our 3rd annual Shaker Ridge Home Winemaker competition.  Entry in our competition is free and open to anyone who has a wine made at least 85% with our grapes in vintages 2011 onward who enters a wine in certain acceptable blinded, public competitions thru Aug. 1 and who contacts us in advance of judging of that competition to confirm that they want their wine included.  We would need to know the competition you are entering, the vintage of the wine, and the varietal(s) purchased from us.  First prize–for best outcome in acceptable competitions–is 250 lbs of grapes of our grapes.  Please see our March “Vineyard Diary” blog for full competition details (  At present, we have only one entry for the competition, so you have an excellent chance of winning the grand prize!  Sacramento Home Winemakers:  the 2015 SHW Jubilee competiton qualifies, so please e-mail us by June 12, 2015 if you have entered a wine made with our grapes in that competition and would like to be considered for our prize.

Vineyard Diary-5-8-15

Premature summer has given way to some beautiful spring weather, including clouds and, yes, a little bit of rain.  We actually received an unexpectedly generous shot of 2.3 inches of rain on April 24-25 that was readily soaked up by rapidly drying topsoil.  Unfortunately, this past week’s chance of rain/thunderstorms on several days translated into only an additional 0.1 inches of rain.  Overall, we have received an essentially average 23+ inches of rain during our traditional wet season, but this is unlikely enough to fully recharge our well after several drought years.

The vine shoots have nearly reached their maximum length, growing rapidly in the last month.  Bloom–the flowering of grapevines– has already happened in our Quinta touriga and tinta cao sections and is just about to begin in the primitivo and barbera.  Bloom is not marked by showy flowers but rather by a delicate, distinct, honey suckle-like aroma that lasts about a week.  We typically sample petioles at this time to check on nutritional status of the vines ahead of fruit set.

The main vineyard operations at this time of year are regular spraying to prevent powdery mildew–we primarily use an organic oil product–and shoot thinning (sometimes called suckering).  Our grapevines try to produce many more shoots than we intend them to, and the extra shoots need to be removed to focus the vine’s energy and better open the vine up to sun and air.   The shoot thinning is a very labor-intensive operation for which we typically need to engage outside labor to augment our own in order to complete in a timely manner.

Two additional commercial wines made with our grapes have recently been bottled and are available for sale from Wreckless Blenders in Carmichael, CA.  We had the pleasure of tasting the 2013 barbera and 2013 touriga at a Wreckless Blenders event in mid-April, and they did not disappoint:  both are excellent examples of their respective varietals.  The 2013 follows a sold-out 2012 barbera also made from our grapes by WB, whereas the 2013 touriga is WB’s first effort with this wonderfully aromatic Portugese varietal.  Both wines are available for sale directly from Wreckless Blenders; get them while you can!

Our 3rd Annual Shaker Ridge Home Winemaker competition remains open to entries for the 2015 judging season.  In short, we are offering 250 lbs of our winegrapes to the best homemade wine made with our grapes based on results in selected, reputable public wine competitions such as the El Dorado County Fair, the Amador County Fair, the Orange County Fair, the California State Fair, and the Sacramento Home Winemakers June Jubilee.  Critical to the entry is informing us, prior to judging of the respective  competition, of entries made at least 85% with our grapes.  Please see our previous (March) post for full competition rules and details.

In light of the drought, we have decided to idle–which in this case means not irrigate and not harvest fruit (the grapevine pretty much does what it wants…) from Block 1 of our barbera.  Block 2 will be brought along but not committed to any clients until we are confident that we will be able to irrigate it adequately.  Nevertheless, we still have ~2.5 tons of barbera that we are definitely cultivating and that is still available for sale.  Waitlists are available for our primitivo and touriga.