Monthly Archives: April 2013

Same work, different year…doubles, shoot thinning, suckers

2013 doubles


This year we have “real” cane pruned arms so the act of suckering, shoot thinning and removing doubles is a little more straight forward.  In the picture above I hope you can see that one of the positions has 2 shoots, a large one and a small one.  Since you want the shoots to be strong you only want one at each location.  So, you pinch it off.  In addition, you have to sucker buds on the trunk and make sure you leave shoots that will grow into next years canes.  It takes practice and a few years of watching what you did and the result at harvest and the following year to get really good at it…

Below is a picture of the good vine along.  The last picture is our front vineyard.  As you can see it is cordon pruned, so we don’t have to pick shoots to keep for next years canes.  I know this might be to much for most of you, but needless to say, each vine you have to make numerous decisions in order to ensure good fruit this year and a healthy, productive vine next year.

After thinning

2013 front before


Marimar Torres Paella

Marimer Torres

Saturday April 6th we took a little time off to attend a Paella party at Marimar Torres.  She had about 70 people at the winery for Spanish Paella, a tour of her vineyards, wine with lunch and special tastes of her 2012 Pinot Noir just out of the barrel.  It was a wonderful event!  The good news for us is that one of her 2012 Pinot’s that has a lot of Pommard clone, tasted just like ours…and she gets $50+/bottle for it.  So excited.

Hill at Marimar Torres

Certified Organic Application



No, I’m not yet certified organic, although I have been farming that way since the beginning in 2009.   A few days ago I started the process to become a California Certified Organic Farmers” (CCOF) Vineyard.  In Sonoma County only 3% of the approximately 1800 vineyards are organic.  Why?  Two reasons…due to the large change in temperature every 24 hours (which makes for great Pinot noir) we get a lot of Powdery Mildew, and second is the need by many farmers to use round-up to control the grass under the vines.  We feel we can handle both organically and we don’t want to have pesticides in our workplace. I worked in environmental management for many years with IBM and it is better to keep the toxics away as much as possible

What is needed? – Farm organically for 3 years,keep good records and have an organic system plan, which includes:

– California State ID
– Seed and Planting Stock Record
– Organic Farm Input Record
– Equipment Cleaning Log
– Harvest Record
– Activity Log
– Land Use History Affidavit
– County Pesticide Use Report
– Complaints Log
– Neighbor Notification and Drift Prevention Letter

It will take me about 3 weeks to get the documents ready for submission.  In addition, the first year will cost around $750 and each year after between $250-$500. Oh, and I get to be audited each year, what fun.

I’ll update you when I’m successful in about 3 months!


2012 Turtle Vines Pinot Noir Winemaking Notes


Harvest Date – 9/23/2012
34 picking bins estimated at 35 pounds each = 1190 pounds
6 Days cold soak with Lallzyme EX enzyme to enhance color and stabilize the tannins
Inoculated with Assmanshausen Yeast
Added 1.5 g/l tartaric acid on 9.29 and 0.5 g/l tartaric acid on 10/2
9 Days Fermented, pressed on Oct 8, pH 3.73
Pressed 107 gallons Pinot noir, after first racking resulted in 102 gallons
Attributes: Deep Purple, wonderful flavor

As Picked
Brix = 23.0
pH – 3.9
TA = 0.59 g/100ml
Malic Acid = 0.31 g/100ml

Aging in 80 gallon Flextank with Medium Plus Oak Xoakers.  We anticipate 12-18 months aging in “barrel” and then 3-6 months in the bottle.  Release mid-2014.

Detailed Log:

9/23/12 – Harvest, crushed, destemmed, 35ppm sulfur, 40# dry ice
9/25/12 – 30# dry ice, 10g Lallzyme Ex
9/27/12 – 40# dry ice, very viscous liquid
9/29/12 – Added 1.5 g/l (450g) tartaric acid, 80g assmanshausen yeast and 0.3 g/l (90g) GoFerm. GoFerm in 3L hot water, cool to 104F then add yeast, cool to 80F and add to must
10/1/12 – Cap temp = 82, Brix 19.8
10/2/12 – Cap temp = 88, pH 3.84, Brix 12.7, TA 7.6, added 0.5 g/l (150g) tartaric acid
10/3/12 – Cap temp = 90, pH 3.82, Brix 4.5
10/7/12 – Cap fell, pH 3.76, very dark purple liquid
10/8/12 – Press, 80 gal free run, added ML
11/6/12 – pH 3.73
12/7/12 – Racked to 102 gallons, sulfur to 50ppm
1/4/13 – Sulfur @ 15ppm, raised to 45
2/5/13 – Sulfur @ 18ppm, raised to 43
2/26/13 – Raised sulfur 25ppm, added Med + Oak Zoakers at rate of 1 ball per gallon in food grade cloth, estimate 6 months in tanks.
4/2/13 – Sulfur @ 40 ppm…no sulfur added, tasted more complex/tannic with a slight bitter after taste. Normal for this stage.


Bud Break for Joey’s Sauvignon blanc !



March 31st our Sauvignon blanc had bud break!

Last year these vines had tremendous growth with only 6-8 buds per vine.  This year we are leaving around 30 buds to try and control the growth and balance the vines.  Our hope is that the shoots will grow to around 4 feet…then stop and ripen the grape clusters, at least that is the goal.

We are on our way to 4 cases of 2013 Turtle Vines Sauvignon Blanc!!!

Thunder and Lightning!



Something exciting here at Turtle Vines.  On Sunday March 31st, a Thunder Storm arrived in Sebastopol.  Heavy rain, thunder and lightning!  This old tree just 100′ from the house was hit and 5′ pieces of the wood/bark came flying off. You can’t see it, but the wood that came off went all the way to the top of the tree.

Luckily for us and all the neighbors,  it didn’t catch on fire.  The good news is we probably got at least an inch of desperately needed rain.  More rain to come on Thursday.


Weed Control and Cover Crops


A few years ago when we started the vineyard we had almost 2 acres of weeds and grass.  Then when we tilled, it seemed like the mustard and radish took over.  Since we are farming organically, we did not use round-up…just pulled weeds and then in 2011 we put down weed cloth in the vine rows.  In additionally, we have put down red clover the last few years to out compete the weeds.  You can see in the above picture that this year it is almost where I had envisioned 3 years ago.  A thick, healthy cover crop.  However, we still have some dandelion weeds.  So last week we went up and down every row and shoveled them out.  I’m sure we will have to do this again in a few weeks, but at least without 5 wheel barrows of weeds, I hope this will prevent weeds later in the year!


This is what the weeds looked like in 2010 before we planted the vines.  What a difference to what we have today!