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!

 

Vineyard Diary – 10/3/17

Another vintage is in the record books, and as usual, the final stretch was frenzied and challenging, with a last curveball from the weather.  All was looking fantastic in mid-August: we had never been so confident of the quality and quantity of our primitivo, the barbera had avoided all the usual landmines, the Portugese varietals looked solid, and the bird nets were deployed.  The fourth 100 F+ heat wave had given way to perfect late summer 90+ F weather, and it looked like we were going to cruise with moderate temps through harvest like in the amazing 2012 vintage.

Then, an intense heatwave hit in the last 1/3 of August, with about a 10-day stretch of highs in the 100-108 F range.  Despite few or no well issues courtesy of the abundant rain last winter, we simply could not rotate our irrigation fast enough to prevent a rapid rise in brix, due mainly to dehydration.  We harvested our primitivo at the tail end of that heat wave on September 1, and cooling temps coupled with our ability to direct more irrigation water at the barbera (with primitivo in) allowed us to save the barbera and bring it in at respectable mid/upper-20s brix and very good condition, with one of the best yields in recent years.  However, it may have gotten cheated out of a little bit of hang time by the preceding hot weather. The Quinta bore a little light this year but enjoyed plenty of hangtime and reasonable temps toward the end, and the non-Quinta touriga delivered solid quality and quantity with fine early autumn weather.  Our last client harvest was today, on October 3.

As usual with our last blog post of the season, we would like to sincerely thank our clients, who included 4 commercial wineries and over a dozen home winemakers, some of which we met, some of which received our grapes through group purchases so we didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to meet.  We appreciate our clients’ patience and flexibility as we navigated the challenging logistics of harvest that require a confluence of buyer’s availability, labor availability, our availability, and last but not least, appropriately rip grapes, the latter being only a 1-2 week window.  We thank you for dropping off bins in advance, being on time for pickups, and for many of our returning clients, for sharing the fruits of prior vintages.  We love to taste what you have done with our grapes.  We also thank our laborers–both paid and volunteer–particularly for their herculean efforts during harvest.

We now look forward to our favorite part of the annual cycle–the down time–a time when we recharge, welcome the return of rain, celebrate the holiday season, and partake fully in our other interests.  Assuming we don’t come to our senses in the off season and stop farming wine grapes :), we will be back next season ready to do it again, and aim to post pricing and availability by the end of January.  God bless.

“Thou my great Father, I                                                                                                 thy true son;                                                                                                                Thou in me dwelling and                                                                                                     I with Thee one.”                                                                                                                 —Be Thou My Vision                                                                                                        8th Century Irish hymn

Dedicated to Joseph D. Standeven 1935-2017

 

 

Current Grape Availability 9-27-17

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

(>1000 lb/ < 1000 lb)

Barbera SOLD OUT Mid Sept 0.95/1.00
Primitivo SOLD OUT Harvested 0.95/1.00
Tempranillo* SOLD OUT Early Sept 1.00
Quinta** SOLD OUT Mid-Late Sept 1.05/1.20
 Touriga* SOLD OUT Late Sept-Early Oct 1.00

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

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

 

Current Grape Availability 9-23-17

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

(>1000 lb/ < 1000 lb)

Barbera SOLD OUT Mid Sept 0.95/1.00
Primitivo SOLD OUT Harvested 0.95/1.00
Tempranillo* SOLD OUT Early Sept 1.00
Quinta** SOLD OUT Mid-Late Sept 1.05/1.20
 Touriga* 0.5 Late Sept-Early Oct 1.00

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

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

 

Grape Chemistry 9-22-17

Varietal Date Sugar (Brix) pH Total Acidity (%)
barbera 8-26-17 20.9 3.04 1.60
9-2-17 25.6 3.16 1.30
9-9-17 (Block 1) 25.8 3.21 1.10
primitivo 8-21-17 23.0 3.27 ND
8-26-17 (1) 25.8 3.45 0.88
8-26-17 (2) 24.6 3.42 0.82
8-26-17 (mean) 25.1 3.44 0.85
     
Tempranillo

(non-Quinta)

9-2-17 23.2 3.64 0.44
Touriga Nacional

(Quinta)

9-9-17 22.6 3.52 0.54
9-16-17 23.4 3.59 0.50
9-22-17 24.2 3.64 0.45
Touriga Nacional 9-16-17 22.6 3.46 0.62
(non-Quinta) 9-22-17 23.0 3.45 0.56

Grape Chemistry 9-16-17

Varietal Date Sugar (Brix) pH Total Acidity (%)
barbera 8-26-17 20.9 3.04 1.60
9-2-17 25.6 3.16 1.30
9-9-17 (Block 1) 25.8 3.21 1.10
primitivo 8-21-17 23.0 3.27 ND
8-26-17 (1) 25.8 3.45 0.88
8-26-17 (2) 24.6 3.42 0.82
8-26-17 (mean) 25.1 3.44 0.85
     
Tempranillo

(non-Quinta)

9-2-17 23.2 3.64 0.44
Touriga Nacional

(Quinta)

9-9-17 22.6 3.52 0.54
9-16-17 23.4 3.59 0.50
 

 

Touriga Nacional

(non-Quinta)

9-16-17 22.6 3.46 0.62