Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vineyards Tour, 5/26/08

We decided to take a mini-road trip on Memorial Day and visit all* of the vineyards we take care of.

We left San Jose at 9a.m. and dragged Kathy and Millie along with us.

The vineyard agenda was:

Woodruff Vineyard, Corralitos
Llama Vineyard, Bonny Doon
Arastradero Vineyard, Los Altos Hills
Harrison Vineyard, Los Altos Hills
Private Consultation site, no photos - also Los Altos Hills
Elandrich Vineyard, Portola Valley
*Chaine d'Or in Woodside would have been here on the tour, but we skipped it
Crimson Clover Vineyard, Morgan Hill
Sessen Vineyard, Coyote Valley
Haut Tubee (home), San Jose

Photos are uploaded here: http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/388768

Given that the Summit Road Fire was at 80% containment yesterday, we noted several groups of fire trucks headed home, thank goodness for that. We passed the "road closed" signage and the Red Cross station at the center of town in Corralitos (where much of the filmed news reports were taking place over the last several days) and only one remaining tv crew truck was on site.
Several of the houses, fences, gates, had home made signs thanking Cal Fire and the firemen who came to their aid.

We walked through the vines, saw Pete on the tractor mowing the grass between rows and snapped some photos before heading back over the hill part way to Bonny Doon. A quick tour through that vineyard and a few extra moments chatting with the owner about the watering schedule for the new plants and we were in Scotts Valley for a noon time snack. Yep, 3 hours, only 2 sites so far.

Heading north on 85 to 280 we chatted about Kathy and Millies trip to Washington DC and dining at Fogo de Chao, good eats.

Paul and I walked to the top of the Arastradero site, vertical stairs (!) and were amazed by how much vigor there was - it was like a jungle between the rows. Next stop was the new vineyard that Paul and Millie installed last summer and though we saw frost damage a month ago, the vines have all recovered and sent long healthy shoots.

A quick drive up the next hillside and Paul stopped in for a private consultation for a guy growing ~100 assorted vines that he is determined to get fruit from this year (past problems with powdery mildew have left him with no fruit for several seasons). I took no photos at this site but did see a jack rabbit that took off before I could get the camera ready.

Next stop, Elandrich in Portola Valley. This site was a major re-hab project when we took it on and we are smitten with the results. There is still some unknown pest though on a handful of the plants so I took several photos of that to see if we can find someone who can tell us what it is and what we should do, if anything. The zinfandel was doing great, the Merlot was happy, and all of the usual trouble spots were still troubling though still doing so much better than our first visit to the site.

At 2:30 we were back on 280 to 85 to 101 south. More fire trucks on the road headed home, I tried to get mobile photos from the car, but again, by the time the camera was on and ready, they were well past us - caravans of 5 to 7 fire trucks at a time.

The homeowner at the Crimson Clover vineyard in Morgan Hill was on his riding mower and cleaning up between the rows when we got there. The cover crop between rows here is Crimson Clover, which is gorgeous when it's in full bloom and lush green with bright red tops, but by now, it's dry and done and though the rows don't really need to be mowed it sure does look better when it's done. A blue jay kept flying through the site while we were there so we addressed that issue with the owner since there will be tons of fruit to harvest (thus requiring netting to keep out the birds) this year.

Almost done.

Our last stop was in Coyote Valley, also a Morgan Hill address, but further north on the outskirts of San Jose is the Sessen Vineyard (though I'm not certain yet if that's what they plan to call it or if I'm even spelling it correctly). This site is an installation we just planted a month ago. The little vines are looking great though you have to search for them in the tall grass and clover (yep, we put in the same crimson clover here too). We'll get the site mowed soon and do some weed control under the rows, as well as get the wires installed. No real urgency just yet on the wires as the plants are barely 6" off the ground.

It was just around 5 p.m. when we pulled in to the driveway at home, a full day with a short lunch break and market stop for rib eyes.

Kathy and Millie stayed over for dinner; fresh bread, baked potatoes, chard, and rib eyes. We opened a Belle Pente Rose to refresh ourselves with snacks while the food cooked, then Paul opened a couple of Bordeaux's to have with dinner (a '98 and '01 Calon Segur).

The road trip was just about 190 miles...billable under vineyard management.

I was glad to take the day and see all each of the sites in one shot, it gave us all a full glance into what each vineyard is up to right now. Most are in full bloom and showing great fruit set, all look spectacular. Our guys are working hard for us and it shows.

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