Friday, July 18, 2008

More Vineyard Updates

Last weekend we went out and visited more of our vineyard sites for an update.

First up was Arastradero Vineyard on a very, very steep hillside in Los Altos. The vineyard is Syrah grown at about 300-450 feet altitude.

This picture gives a good idea of the slope of the vineyard. The little blue FJ Cruiser at the bottom of the hill is our car. This is taken from about half way up the vineyard.

More of the slope of the vineyard. Jerry had just finished thinning the vineyard and you can see the cuttings on the ground. We do this to make sure the fruit will ripen well and have enough sunlight to get great flavors.

At this point we don't remove any leafs. We want to protect the grapes from getting sunburned or overripe in the hot afternoon sun. This vineyard has a western exposure, so the afternoon sun will be very intense.

Notice the health of the clusters in this picture. The quality we're getting in this vineyard is surprising me. I had some doubts about the vineyard for a number of reasons, but the fruit looks fantastic at this point. It's all scheduled to go to Bradley Brown at Big Basin Vineyards. The fruit looks so good though I'm going to see if he might share a little with me for our Haut Tubee blend.

Next we were off to the Harrison Vineyard. A small 1/4 acre we installed last year off Page Mill Road, in Los Altos Hills. We didn't take any pictures here, as we spent most of our short visit talking with the Harrison's. They have really taken to grape growing and are doing an excellent job with the vineyard with very little help from us. First fruit from here should be in 2010.

Then we headed over to the Elandrich Vineyard in Portola Valley for a fast walk through and talk with the new owners.

This vineyard is also holding some very nice looking fruit. There was a little powdery mildew showing under one of the oak trees, so I sent Jerry out on Tuesday to spray Stylet Oil on the vineyard. This vineyard gets a lot of pressure from mildew, due to a number of 100 year old Italian oaks that over hang the vineyard.

This vineyard was a complete rehab for Stefania and I. We took it from a complete disaster to the state you see now, with healthy fruit and about a one ton yield. The vineyard has some limitations. The trellis system is not ideal, the oak trees make mildew a threat that requires more spraying, and the layout is poor, we can't use any heavy equipment. Still the grapes from this vineyard have been fantastic. We've used then in our Haut Tubee wine and our Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon.

The new owners talked with us a little about upgrading the vineyard and replanting some dead spots. That would really be fantastic if they want to do this, the fruit from here makes well structured wine with ripe tannins and a good mix of red and black fruit. With a modern trellis and a little higher maintenance budget we could get the yield up to two tons (125 cases) and make even better wine from here.

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