Monthly Archives: July 2013

Clone 23?

Mariafeld Clone 23


I have a few dozen loose cluster Pinot Noir vines in the vineyard (out of 3100).  I always wondered what they were.  In fact the viticulturist from DeLoach was over last week and he confirmed they were Pinot but didn’t know which clone.  So…in researching I could only find one loose cluster Pinot that was available from the nursery where I purchased all the vines…and that is Clone 23, otherwise known as Mariafeld.

I found this description of the vine.  “Clone 23 is interesting in that the cluster and berry sizes are much larger than most Pinot clones.  It always provides dark colors, very bright, fruity flavors with high acidity.”  In addition, due to the loose clusters it is resistant to botrytis and if needed will allow you to let the fruit hang longer on the vine.

So, I think the mystery is solved and it seems to be a very nice addition to the Pommard and 667 Clones at Turtle Vines!

For comparison, below is a normal Pommard Clone.  Notice how tightly spaced the cluster is relative to the Mariafeld clone above.

Pommard Clone 4


Row Orientation – It was worth it!!!

row orientation


For the first time I really saw the benefit of our 42 degree from N/S row orientation.  The end of June/beginning of July it was very hot here in Sebastopol, >90 degrees for a week.  Very unusual for this early in the summer and it set records in several of the cities around us.

A lot of my friends with vineyards experienced sunburned grapes but we didn’t.  Why…around 1pm when the sun is directly overhead, our grapes are positioned so the sun shines down the row and not across.  (the above picture shows shade at 11am) So very little sun is shining directly on the grapes.  My friends rows are N/S so they get sun on the grapes when it is the strongest…and they get sunburned.

I guess that extra 25% cost was worth it!

PS  Later in the year if the temperature of the grapes gets above 95-100 degrees, the enzymes start to “cook” and you will lose flavor.  Another reason for the row orientation.  Let’s hope we get a very warm but not hot rest of the summer.


Veraison 2013!

veraison 2013


Just walked outside and noticed we have started veraison, where the pinot grapes turn from green to a very dark purple.  This means the countdown to put up the nets and harvest has started!!!

Everything this year is ahead of last year and veraison is no different. Last year it was July 21st and this year it is July 8th, so I’m expecting harvest somewhere between the 10th and 15th of September.

What do I have to do between now and harvest?
– Continue to spray for botrytis and powdery mildew until the nets go up
– Final pass on shoot positioning, leafing and drop fruit
– Design net tool and test
– Put up the nets around Aug 1st
– FIND Winery to buy grapes!!!
– Harvest


CCOF Certified !!!


I just received my CCOF Certification!  Only 3% of the grape growers in Sonoma County are certified organic, so I’m joining an elite group.  In addition, Turtle Vines is probably one of the southern most vineyards in the Russian River Valley, which makes it much more difficult due to our propensity of fog.

In short, what did it take:
– Growing organically for 3 years
– Keeping accurate records of the fertilizers and sprays used
– Filling out a 30 page application
– Getting audited
– Paying $900 in first year fees and about $400 thereafter
– Registering with the California Department of Food and Agriculture

Would I do it again…for sure. Healthier for me, the soil and the grapes.
Has it been a challenge…yes. Probably sprayed twice as often at a much higher cost per spray, and your options if things go wrong are much smaller
What did I learn…You have to plan more in advance and perform more research on how to solve issues. I think this is good farming and better for my brain.

Lastly, for all of my high tech friends…was this as tough as ISO 9000/14000?  I don’t think the paperwork or audits to be Certified Organic are difficult, but you have to live being organic every day.