WINERY & VINEYARD NEWS:
Happy Spring everyone! Springtime in the vineyard is wake up time. We prepare for the coming vintage by removing diseased and dead vines, retraining cordons, stretching and repairing broken and loose trellis wires, and maybe replace an odd broken end post, your basic spring cleaning. We did get some early rains which gave our cover crop, planted in our vine row middles, a head start, but the rain has since stopped, and it looks like we may be looking at a dry year. We have been replanting older blocks with new varieties or improved clonal selections over the last few years. I am more aggressive with replanting projects in wet years when the soil profile is saturated and will sustain plants longer into the growing season without additional supplemental irrigation. This year we have decided to scale back and concentrate on just filling out blanks and weak areas in our current vineyard blocks. We will continue to plan for an entire new block replant for next year and make the best of it. Dry years usually produce smaller but more intense crops, so I guess this will be our silver lining. Looking back at the fruit from years past with minimal rain has given us wines that are concentrated and intense, which we love. However, due to less rainfall the plant will produce fruit that is smaller, with smaller bunches, weighing less than usual, creating a smaller amount of very high-quality fruit. We will just wish we had more of it!
Along with our spring clean-up and repairs, we are starting to prune. We begin pruning in mid- March, which is on the late side generally speaking. Central coast vineyards in cold spring areas like ours do not see bud break until mid to late April. Vines in frost prone areas “learn” to sleep in to avoid the freeze. Young eager vines can pop out early and sometimes get zapped by a late spring frost, but eventually adjust to their location. Older vines tend to get in sync with their location and are consistent year in and year out. I know to look at the old Valley oaks that surround the vineyard. They will flower and leaf out approximately 2 weeks before the vineyard begins to push. It is a great indicator and I know that if I haven’t locked down a pruning crew and I see the oaks pushing out, I should probably get it going real soon.
Our young Grenache and Mourvèdre vines are doing well, and this is the year we will train them up their stakes and build the foundation for next year’s inaugural first crop! We are very excited and looking forward to adding these two as estate wines. They were planted last spring and during their first year in the ground, we encouraged root growth and let them grow without any real training attempts. The vines summer growth will be trimmed down to one spur per plant carrying only two buds. This may seem extreme; however, this method will concentrate the plants growth into these two well-chosen buds and create a stronger vine in the long run. The perceived waste will be more than accounted for in the first two to three weeks of the growing season. Plants in the spring have a tremendous growth rate and that energy will blast them up the stake ready for training. It is all about the foundation of these vines. We can’t be in a hurry; if we do our job correctly these vines will produce wines for 30+ years, possibly 100 if we are lucky.
In the cellar, we have been busy blending the 2020-21’s and will be bottling in early April. The 2021 ZC Pink and 2021 Force de Fleurs will be first in line. This year’s Pink is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, the blend is a beautiful pale pink, very floral and fruit forward, tasting like a fresh spring day! The Force is an 80/20 blend of Grenache Blanc and Viognier. The juice is pressed from whole clusters, chilled, and fermented in oak puncheons which lend to a refreshing fruit filled white with just a hint of toasted vanilla bean. These low production wines will go fast, available for purchase sometime in early May.
Thank you all for your continued support and as always, enjoy.
Cheers ! -eo