Does Color Matter in Pinot Noir

I came across this wonderful article on making Pinot Noir vs Merlot by Greg La Follette on Twitter from Palatexposure.  This article is right on target as I normally order Merlot in restaurants, as I have been disappointed many time with Pinot Noir.

I have made Merlot twice and Pinot five times…Merlot is a lot easier but Pinot is worth the effort when done well!


I’ve read some of the wine chat board postings which, you can guess, is a dangerous thing for a winemaker to do (read, that is), but there you have it. At any rate, it seems that one of the biggest controversies out there over the years and now in the virtual wine e-world revolves around what the intensity of color in a Pinot Noir means to the average Pinot consumer. Does color count? Does the size (of your Pinot, that is) matter?

But first, let’s dispel one myth right now before tackling another: there is no such thing as an “average” Pinot consumer, unless the term “congressional ethics” or “giant shrimp” has any meaning to you. Pinot consumers are as whacky as Pinot winemakers. Who else would spend large amounts of disposable (or otherwise) income and time chasing for that perfect bottle when there is so much nice, pleasant Merlot out there which is almost always user-friendly at purchase?

Merlot is easy to drink, and easy to make. It is, for the production cellar jock, the veritable blanc canvas on which to paint pretty pictures. Paint by numbers? Just follow the dots and fill ‘em in. A little oak here, a little cuvaison skin contact there, maybe some air with your racking. Add acid and hey, presto, you’ve got Merlot. You wanna change winemaking styles with Merlot? Need a cash cow to milk? Got Milk? Add it to your Merlot (this is called fining, folks—ain’t no joke!) and you soften the baby up for an early release. A pleasant drink, for pleasant people, without the insanity in the winery, of the hoops Pinot Noir will have us hose-hounds jumping through. Oh, sure, there is the big, grunty Merlot for those big, grunty high-end tastings. But with Merlot, the winemaker doesn’t have to go there with her/his grapes. Merlot does not challenge the cellar stamina. It almost says, “don’t worry, be happy.” A winemaker can challenge one’s self with some exceptional grapes, but again, no Merlot grape inherently calls its maker to masochism.

Pinot Noir is another story. As a crass, general rule of thumb, there is usually no such thing as a good, cheap Pinot. It’s either good, or it is not. “Nothing worse than a run-of-the-mill Pinot” is a phrase often echoing in wine bars across the country. Mark Twain once wrote about coffee in the same vein, but Pinot Noir even more so invites comment on quality. No other grape requires one to pay such attention to it. Good winemakers (another oxymoron) always ask Pinot what IT wants, and always get its consent, written or otherwise, before actually doing anything with that darned grape. Not so with obliging Merlot. Facile compared to Pinot.

So, color turns out to actually not be the question on Pinot. Each winemaker needs to make each wine what it wants to be—dark or light, big or svelte, it all depends on the area in which the grape was grown and what tools the winemaker has to address the grape. That P-noir likes to be consulted first makes Merlot no less of a grape, only a little less demanding than its Burgundy Brethren.

And with that explanation, folks, open up your hearts and your wallets and buy Merlot. Good, bad or indifferent, you will be making some poor winemaker’s life easier by increasing the demand for her/his beau Bordeaux. Which means more Merlot grapes planted and made into the liquid stuff, which means less job stress for your local oenologist. Save those big bucks for she-who-must-be-obeyed, the one they call “the heartbreak grape”, which is the passion and the true cross of most wine buffs, be they makers or consumers. Big or finessed, there is someone’s dedicated love and heart in every really good bottle of Pinot noir. And that is no oxymoron—only a bit harder to find.

2017 Goals


Some of you may look at the picture above and say “Yuk”, what are those odd looking grapes.  Well, in fact, these are wonderful wine grapes but not so good vineyard grapes.  Why?  What you want is a combination of large, small and shriveled berries to maximize skin flavor yet provide enough juice for wine. I think 2016 will go down as a challenging growing year but a wonderful wine year…and our number one goal is to produce great wine and wine grapes!!! Here is what I hope to see a year from now.

– Obtain my first 90 point wine from the Prince of Pinot! (2015 Vintage)
– 5 tons of Pinot Noir, or about 3.25 pounds per vine.
– Continue our relationship with Hanzell Vineyards
– Control powdery mildew with spray/sprayer improvements
– Water the vineyard as little as possible for flavor and to decrease powdery mildew
– Control pH in grape juice to acceptable levels
– 500 pounds of Sauvignon Blanc with the use of cane pruning
– Simplify my personal vineyard workload

2016 Highlights


I’m sure glad my 2016 accomplishments are better that the ballon you see in the picture!  It landed a block from the end of the vineyard in a neighbors backyard the first week of January.

2016 was our 5th harvest!  I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by…seems like just yesterday we were planting.

Highlights of 2016
– IMHO, our wine has been getting better every vintage! Early in the year we had our 2014 Pinot Noir (our second real vintage) sent out for review to the Prince of Pinot and received 89 points after only 6 months in the bottle…and it keeps getting better. The recently bottled 2015 and 2016 (in barrel) are already tasting amazing!

2014 Turtle Vines Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., pH 3.90, TA 0.58, $34. 50% Pommard and 50% Dijon 667 clones from an estate vineyard planted in 2010. 5% whole clusters. Aged in 25% new French oak. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose is flush with earthy flora and savory herb aromas. The palate is more fruity, offering middleweight spiced cherry flavor with a pinch of smoky oak. Very sleek and silky with invisible tannins. Score: 89

– 2016 winemaking was a real challenge. Due to the weather the grapes developed sugars much earlier than flavors. We had to let them hang on the vine until they had a brix of 25-26 percent…much higher than I normally like to pick, which is around 24 percent. This drove up the pH. So…in California you are allowed to add acid and water because the state has an abundance of sun, and we have ended up with a wonderfully balanced wine!

– We continue to work with Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma to sell them grapes for their “Sabella” Pinot Noir. It is sold in fine restaurants throughout the nation. We are very happy to continue to work with Michael McNeill and learn from his expert hand on how to make Pinot Noir. Just wish we had more to sell to him.

– 2016 was an interesting Harvest. Our 667 clone was close to full production for the first time…but our Pommard did not fare as well. As a result we only sold 3.2 tons of grapes, which was twice as much as 2015 but not as much as 2014. Hopefully, with a good fruit set, a revamped spray program, and sunshine and water at the appropriate time, we will sell 5 tons this year!

– We did a few things around the vineyard to improve quality and make our lives easier. Ever since we planted in 2010 we had about 70 vines that looked different and some even had Chardonnay grapes on them. It took us 2 years to determine that most of them were Merlot…so the last few years we made Merlot. Unfortunately, they were all not in the same location and they ripen a month after the Pinot Noir. Due to this we decided to graft them over to our favorite clone, Pommard. All but a few of the grafts took well, and they should be producing Pinot Noir this year. In addition, we pruned back the oak trees on the south side of the vineyard that were shading our vines. This should help at fruit set to produce more bunches and help to ensure that the grapes on those vines ripen the same time as the rest of the vineyard.

– We implemented a plan to reduce the pH of our grapes at harvest by dripping Epson Salt 5 times at 55 pounds each time during the growing season. We do this to reduce the amount of potassium uptake from our soil to the grapes. Most vineyard do not have enough potassium but we have it in abundance. This worked to reduce our pH at harvest by about 0.3 pH units. A huge improvement but still not enough.

– Lastly, we modified our powdery mildew spray program to reduce the incidence in the vineyard. For Sonoma Valley is was another difficult year to be organic, and Turtle Vines was no exception. More improvements are planned for 2017.

Rain in the Vineyard!!!


I believe in Global Warming, but I sure don’t believe in the the rainfall predictions from forecasters early in the season.  Last year was supposed to be a HUGE rainfall season with El Nino…but it ended up about normal.  This year is La Nina and they have predicted average rainfall…yet it looks to be very wet in Sonoma County. If you watch the national news we will have are having an “Atmospheric River” of rain…and we are having severe flooding in the area. We at Turtle Vines are not in a flood area but this was the worst winter storm since 2005 in Sonoma County. That one caused ~$100M of damage, hopefully this one is not as bad…let’s hope.

PS  From a vineyard standpoint, a cold winter is nice to delay bud break and a good soaking late March, early April is fantastic so we avoid watering until July or August for flavor development.  Just no rain May/June as that would be bad for powdery mildew and botrytis.

Average Rainfall        2016/2017 Season
October                      2.0″                              5.7″
November                  5.9″                             3.4″
December                  6.3″                             6.0″
January                       8.7″                             8.5″ as of 1/9/17
February                    7.6″
March                         6.2″
April                            2.3″



Don’t ship wine in the Winter!


Don’t know why, but it never occurred to me to worry about shipping wine in the winter.  I realize you can’t ship in the summer unless you pay extra to ship in refrigerated trucks.

I shipped 6 bottles to Chicago mid-December to a customer.  The shipping company even delayed it a few days due to weather.  When it arrived, you can see in the picture that the corks on two of the bottles had popped up indicating that the WINE FROZE! (colder than 20F for quite a few hours) For you wine lovers, it is OK to drink, but most likely the wine will have lost its wonderful flavors, especially the ones with popped corks.  Another thing I found out…the shippers and freight companies don’t cover this loss…an expensive lesson learned.

By the way, Turtles can survive freezing but Turtle Vines wine can not!!!



2016 Pinot Harvest – Turtle Vines

It’s 3am and the call comes in…whom do you want to answer the phone?  Oh, this is harvest time and not the election!!!

I was up at 3am September 14th, and we started our pick at 4am with a 7 man crew.  We finished up a little after 10am.  Between what we sell to Hanzell and what we keep for ourselves we harvested 7,003 pounds!

And by the way, I lifted almost all of the grapes twice to get the trailer loaded….once to my truck and once from the truck to the trailer.  Didn’t have to work out for a week.


Joey and Bernadino loading the trailer!


Almost full trailer…


I’m finishing up the Pommard and then heading to Sonoma to deliver the grapes!


Joey and Bernadino loading the trailer!



Grafting – Part 2

vineyard with grafts and replant

So, for any of you that have followed my blog you know that when we originally planted our Pinot Noir in 2010 the nursery accidentally included a little over 50 Merlot and 5 Chardonnay bench grafts.  We didn’t realize what the Merlot were until our second harvest in 2013.  The last 2 years we have made Merlot wine…but it is very difficult to handle them in the vineyard as they are spread out over many rows.  (The got mixed up in our planting process).  So…we decided to graft them over to the Pommard clone.  In Part 1 I showed how we cut off last years canes during pruning and put them in our extra refrigerator…so what is next?

1  -Take them out of cold storage (~36F) for a day and soak one end in water.

canes in bag

In the picture below you can see the buds on the canes.  These will be used for bud grafting.


2 – Hire a grafter…seriously, for many other varieties the success rate is >98% but for Pinot Noir you are lucky to get 90% and for those who don’t know what they are doing much less.

3 – The grafter will cut off the trunk of the vine about 2′ above the ground.

4 – Then they notch the trunk on two sides and notch out two buds from last years canes.

5 – They then place the buds into the notches and hold them in place with tape.

6 – You then cover with a grow tube to keep direct sunlight off them.

7 – Lastly, you wait about three weeks when the canes should appear and you can take the grow tube off.  You may or may not get any grapes, but the important part is for it to grow strong this year so it can be pruned into shape next spring.

Vine Graft

Why in my first picture I have grow tubes with and without red tape?  The red tape denotes the bud grafts and the normal grow tubes are replants that gophers/mowers/trimmers killed the previous few years.



Bud Break and Grape Harvest Prediction

Budbreak 2016

Bud break this year was 3/14, almost 3 weeks later than last year which is a very good thing!  Based on my predictions the last 4 years we have averaged 183 days from bud break to harvest.   This year we will delay a week for riper fruit…so my prediction is 9/20/16.

How much you ask?  Well, this last year we had a disastrous fruit set which resulted in a 60+% loss in fruit.  After all is said and done with new bench graft plantings and grafting over the Merlot we will have 3000 vines.  I’m estimating a 90% efficiency at 3.5 pounds/vine. I’m hoping for a better fruit set than that, but still being cautious I’m guessing 4.7 tons of Pinot Noir and 350 pounds of Sauvignon Blanc.

I’ll offer a free bottle of wine to the person who comes closest to the pounds of Pinot grapes we harvest this year. Post here on my Turtle Vines Facebook page in the next week or email me and I’ll publish the names and guesses…and we will see who wins 5 1/2 months from now.

Stay tuned for the results!


2015 Grape Harvest Sales Plunge

2 dollar bill

Why the $2 bill?

Well, not often do you see the North Coast grape harvest drop like it did in 2015 (sort of like a $2 bill)…unless it was from the recent Great Recession.

Due to the 23% drop in tonnage harvested (we were off by 60%!)…the amount of money to the vineyard’s in the North Bay reduced to $1.12B from $1.46B.  However, due to the shortage of grapes the price went up 5% in Sonoma County…and the Pinot Noir average price was $3,500/ton.  For those not in the business, this translates to just about $5/bottle (~55-60 cases/ton) just for average grapes before any processing starts which is more expensive!  Grapes that make excellent wines are much more expensive and could be twice as much!  Now you know why Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley is expensive.

Solar Sebastopol and Our Panels…Good and Bad News!

Roof leak 2-1-16

Sebastopol, our agri-artsy Sonoma County outpost, (Jerry Garcia went to High School at Analy 1/2 mile from our house) was the first city in the US in 2013 to implement a building ordinance that required all new homes/buildings to include solar systems that provide 2 watts of photovoltaic-derived power per square foot of insulated building area. The system must offset at least 75 percent of the home/building’s total annual electric load.

We are in the county but on the Sebastopol border, so it is not applicable to us…but being good neighbors, stewards of the environment and cost efficient people…and we were about to rent on VRBO, we decided to add to our solar in 2012.

When we purchased our home there was already 7 kW of solar.  We added 2 kW February 2012 that would take advantage of the morning/mid-afternoon sun.  In addition we have converted most of our lights from incandescent/CFL to LED and upgraded our pool pump to variable speed…but I had to add a wine room for the Turtle Vines Inventory!

How are we doing?
– Our average electric bill 2009-2011 was $1,085
– Our average electric bill 2012-2015 was $ 638
– The last 4 years have also included 125 couple who stayed at our Vacation Rental, which is all electric.
– Our solar generation accounted for 70% of our energy usage!  In addition, we purchase the remainder of our electricity from Sonoma Clean Power that is 100% renewable.
– We use half of the electricity of the average American family.
– Our goal is to be near $0 for 2016.

So…why the picture above?  Installing solar panels after the roof is installed has risks…namely leaks.  We are now figuring out the best way to fix the roof, but we are committed to solar!

Grafting – Part 1

canes in frig

Why am I posting grafting?  We just planted our vineyard in  2010 with 3130 Pinot Noir vines…or so we thought.  Nurseries, like anyone else, make mistakes.  Of the 3200 vines we ordered, we ended up with 50 Merlot’s, 7 Chardonnay and about 23 vines that the graft didn’t take.  You can’t tell any of that until you have fruit on them 2 or 3 years later!

In 2012, our 1st fruit year, we ended up putting the Merlot into the Pinot Noir since we could not tell the vines apart. For 2013 made the Merlot into Jelly.  In 2014 we made a little Merlot and the picking crew cut the rest off before I could stop them.  Lastly, in 2015 we left the Merlot to ripen for an extra 3 weeks and it is now getting ready to bottle in a few months…and it tastes great!

So why are we grafting them over the Pinot Noir?  Since they ripen at different times than the Pinot Noir and the 50 Merlot are scattered in the vineyard with 3000 other vines, they are a pain to keep separate.  You have to mark them, leaf differently, and keep them netted longer.

So, we will lose a year of production on those vines…but they would not have been used anyway.

How do you do graft?

  • First you have to mark the vines you want to graft over
  • Next you have to obtain budwood…in our case, when we pruned the vines we collected the canes and cut them into 4 bud lengths.  We then bundled them up, put them in a plastic bag and will refrigerate them until we graft in March.  (see picture above)  Keep them around 34-36 F but don’t freeze them!

For the rest of the Grafting process…tune back in mid-March

canes ground


Invisible Tannins


What are “invisible Tannins”?

I recently received a review for our 2014 Turtle Vines Pinot Noir …yes, we are announcing the release of that wine in the next few days!!!  In the review was the term “Invisible Tannins”.  A few years ago I taught my nephew “Young but Approachable”.  This one is not as funny, but I think is a great term, and in my mind another way to say “balanced with great structure”.  Below is the explanation I got below from the Prince of Pinot.

First…a quick explanation of a wine tannin.  Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves and fruit skins. (see above picture)   As a characteristic of wine, tannin adds both bitterness and astringency as well as complexity. Wine tannins are most commonly found in red wine, although white wines have tannin from being aged in wooden barrels or with oak adjuncts.

Prince of Pinot – “You want some tannic backbone in wine not only for balance but for age ability. That said, you want to sense that a wine has structure, but you don’t want the structure (tannins) to stand out. Tannins should blend harmoniously with the fruit extraction, alcohol, acidity and oak – essentially invisible in the context of the wine as a whole or better said, balanced. Tannins will change over time in the bottle, so they may stand out a bit in a young wine and that is ok if they are not big tannins. I am sure you have experienced opening a wine and finding it a bit tannic, but when re-tasted 2-3 days later from the same bottle, the tannins have softened and seemingly integrated. That is a sign that the tannins will meld over time in the bottle in the cellar.”

Lastly, in order to make a balanced wine you need to take into account the acidity and alcohol content to determine how much tannin is needed.  In general, the higher the alcohol and lower the acid the more tannins you will need.  That is why Cabernet and Merlot will have more tannins than Pinot Noir.


Duh…Don’t Buy Extra Spools of Tie designed to Erode!

tie spool

Just a quick post on vine tying and buying the correct wire.  Two years ago a friend of mine and fellow winemaker, John Mason,  invested in a Pellanc Tie Tool. Has made tying vines to the wires much easier.

When you tie vines you need to pick out the correct wire.  Tie wire for the Pellanc comes in 4 grades based on how long it will last in the field.  For cane pruned vines you only want the ties to last 1 year and then be able to pull the canes from the wires easily.  I used the second softest grade of wire, the first softest tends to jam in the tool.

I learned an obvious but good lesson this year.  Since the wire is designed to fall apart after 1 year, get new spools every year.  What you see above and in detail below is the tie wire that I left in the tool since last spring.  Notice how the cover has come off the wire.  I didn’t change the spool and it jammed and didn’t work.  Took me about 15 minutes to realize why….duh, you need a new spool, the old one is doing what it was designed to do, fall apart after a year!  Good thing I only had one spool leftover from 2015.  FYI…I will use 9 of these spools in my boutique vineyard and take me about 12 hours to tie.

Tie wire

Dry Periods During a Strong El Nino?


For those of you in other parts of the country having an arctic blast caused by El Nino this year and you wondered…must be a lot of rain in Wine Country.  Well…not so much.  We are a little under our normal rainfall total so far in 2016 and it has now been dry for 12 days (and counting) and it doesn’t look much rain until the 23rd of February.  Good news is they are predicting a wetter than normal March.  Hopefully we get a lot of rain to fill the reservoirs and end the drought, but doesn’t look like it.  At least for us in wine country, rain in March is great as it fills the soil with moisture that will last until July for the grapevines.

Good news – mid 70’s here in February!

Bad news – soil will warm up and cause an early bud break!

Pruning – Part 2 Final Pruning

prune close up

So…I had pre-pruned the vineyard earlier to make it easier to see where to prune…and to delay my final pruning.  Above you can see for cane pruning you leave 2 healthy canes from the previous year and cut off all the rest.  Below you will see that the canes are shortened such that the canes when tied to the wires don’t touch.  It is hard to estimate, so normally I tie them to the wires and then trim one of the canes if I left them to long.

For me this year looks like my “wire will be full” (all of the vines have 2 canes to tie to the wire.  Hopefully we will have a good fruit set and a large quality harvest in 2016.

BTW…what is nice to see in 2016, six years after initial planting, is that the trunks are getting larger and we did a good job last year of keeping the correct canes during thinning in 2015 for use in 2015!  Hope that makes sense to all reading.  Basically, anything you do as far as pruning/thinning/spraying the previous year you get to see the results the next year.

pruned row

This picture shows the rows now pruned and ready to be tied.  I will remove the piles of canes in the next week and mow the grass so I can begin to catch gophers earlier this year before they get out of control!

Pruning – Part 1…Pre-pruning

which one?

Wow, don’t know about you but the time between fall and spring seems to be getting shorter every year.  Seems like just yesterday we were harvesting our grapes and making wine!

Every year the vines have to be pruned back to provide room for new growth, and if done correctly, provide balance between the amount of fruit and the vegetative growth.  Pruning is done early spring.  If it is done to early then your trunks can become infected with fungi, or Eutypa Dieback.  Basically…your vines get infected and dieback over a number of years.  Given all the time and money you have invested in them, you want to prevent this from happening so that your vines will last a few lifetimes.  There are a few easy things to try and prevent this.

– Delay your pruning as long as possible in the spring. If the phloem and xylem (blood of the vines) are flowing when you prune the vines, the diseases will not adhere to the wood.
– Double prune – prune the vines in the winter to an intermediate length and then prune late when the phloem and xylem is active. You can see from the picture above that we have done this. Basically we cut the vines to about 6″ close to where they will eventually be pruned.  One of the more difficult items in pruning is removing the old wood that is tied to the wires. If you do this first it makes the final pruning much easier to do and easier to see where the final pruning cuts should be located.
– Protectants can be used after you prune to inhibit the growth of fungi. In the case of an organic vineyard the only item I have found is Serenade at 3% which will out compete the bad fungi.  We have used this in previous years.
– Lastly, make sure as you prune you sanitize your pruning shear initially and during your pruning session so as not to spread any diseases.

So, for Turtle Vines…pre-pruning is complete and now we are waiting for the correct time to prune! Can’t be to late as we had bud break the last week of February last year.

Below is a picture of a row that has been pre-pruned and the old canes removed.  Notice that all of the vine ties are gone from last year. (the ones connecting the vines to the wires)


We now have 5 big piles of canes from 2015 around the vineyard.  Soon they will be chipped and used around the property.

cane pile

He’s Back! Red Tails in Love!

Red Tails

The last two winters we have had a Red Tail Hawk come visit Turtle Vines.  It sits on our vine row endpoints, jumps to the ground and hunts gophers and observes me from the trees weeding and pruning!  Unfortunately the last two years I have only seen one…no mate.

This year, I saw my Hawk again in the vineyard about a week ago…again alone.  But not for long…if you can see from the picture above we now have two Hawks!!!  I’m hoping they are mating and we will have little ones flying around in the spring.  Stay tuned for more Red Tail love stories!!!

on post


2016 Drought Update at Turtle Vines, Russian River Valley

Special-Weather-Statement (1)

I’m sure all the news east of California has massive rainfall with flooding in California…and the drought it over.  But that is not the case here in Northern California.

GOOD NEWS – We are getting moderate amounts of rainfall here in Russian River Valley spread over a long period of time which is soaking the soil without flooding.  The rainfall/storm window continues to remain open with the prospect of more rain for the foreseeable future.  We have not had any big storms and El Nino storms historically have come in February.  In addition, the snowpack is growing in the mountains and in much better shape than last year (see picture above)

BAD NEWS – We are below last years rainfall total and below our long term average.  Sebastopol is currently at 19″ for the rain year and we need to get 45″ just to get to our average.  Hate to say it but we need about 5″ of rain for the next 6 weeks!  Just hope it is constant and not all at once.

As much as would like to be outside pruning and getting ready for the year…let it rain!!!

Big Red needs a little help !

IMG_0423 (1)

After returning from Minneapolis for Christmas 2 weeks ago, I was going to get some work done around the vineyard between rain storms.  However, my 2000 F250 decided it wanted a little pampering and maintenance.  After several ideas on what was wrong on my part, I had AAA tow it to a local service center.  Ends up the fuel pump failed.  I have read that they should last at least 10 years or 100,000 miles.  Since Big Red is 16 years old but only has a little over 80K miles, seems about right.  Just the $750 bill was not the way I wanted to start out the new year.

Now…you have to ask, when is it time for a replacement truck.  Given the truck is for the vineyard/winery only, has 4WD, running boards, a $3K lift gate on the back, tows 5 tons and is only driven 2,000 miles/yr…and a new one just like it is $36K without the lift…we should have it a long time (at least we hope)!

2016 Goals

turtle vines in snow blog small

Happy New Year…And a special shout out to Anna and Brian for this wonderful picture of our 2014 Turtle Vines Pinot Noir at Lake Tahoe!!!

Wow, if you read my “2015 Recap” you realize 2015 was a fantastic year.  How to improve upon that?  Here are my goals for 2016

Grow great grapes that turn into great wine!!!


  • Keep Hanzell Vineyards as a grape purchaser
  • Drip Epson Salt through the irrigation system between set and harvest to lower the potassium level in the grapes that will lower the pH of the wine
  • Institue an improved spray program for powdery mildew
  • Replant 85 weak or missing vines
  • Graft over 80 Merlot/Chardonnay/Original no-clone vines
  • Prune trees that shade the vineyard
  • Outsource more of the vineyard work


  • Add another restaurant that sells Turtle Vines to go with Millennium and Muir’s Tea Room
  • Reviews for the 2013 (Pinot Report), 2014 (Prince of Pinot)
  • Make a small batch of Pinot that can age based on 2015 information