Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Help I've fallen in my vineyard and can't get up!

In addition to Stefania Wine, we also run Two Gringo's Vineyard Management. Two Gringo's is really just a sub-company that we manage the vineyards we produce grapes from for Stefania Wine. I've never advertised Two Gringo's past a link on the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Page and a small website.

Still, every year I get 25-30 calls from people looking for help with their vineyard projects. Mostly these calls are pretty easy to say no to. They are looking for help outside our area, or they want something specific done like changing posts out in the vineyard. If the vineyard project doesn't fit into the long term plans for Stefania Wine, I just refer them to someone else.

I also get calls on large projects 20-30, even 100 acres. Again it's pretty easy to turn down. Stefania Wine is going to make small lots from specific vineyards until we have our own estate vineyard. Producing 20,000 cases is not what we are after.

Every now and then though a call comes in for a site and a situation that really makes sense, and we'll take on a new project. Usually just one new project a year and it fits in with what we are already doing.

I also get emergency calls sometimes, and I just love growing vines so much, that I can't say no. Last summer Stef and I went down to San Martin for some emergency consulting on a small family project that was struggling with over vigor and Powdery Mildew. We couldn't save the crop for them last year, but we got them back up on their feet, and they phone us now for help and guidance. I suspect they'll get a good crop of 2-3 barrels this year.

I got another call like that yesterday. A homeowner with a one acre Cabernet vineyard in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. He's got two year old vines and he doesn't know how to prune. I couldn't help myself. Not only is it almost too late to prune, but if he does it wrong this year, he'd be better off to rip out the vineyard and start over than try and correct the problem next year. It's a hard concept for most people, but with grape vines fixing a problem can take just as long as starting over, 2 or 3 years.

So we sent out a note to some close friends and put a little crew together for Saturday, and I hope we can save this little vineyard. It might not be one we keep long term, but I really think one successful vineyards in the hills is one less McMansion, and that's worth it.

The volunteer crew will get some home made Osso Bucco, and a lot of great wine as a reward too, and any excuse for a party ain't bad either.

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