Monthly Archives: January 2016

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

2015 Recap

Winter 2015 Vineyard
2015 was a remarkable year at Turtle Vines!

– We started the year getting a wonderful review of our 2013 Pinot Noir from The Prince of Pinot.
– Our 2014 Sauvignon Blanc was a hit at Eight Restaurant and sold out!
– We are now selling grapes to Hanzell Vineyards, one of the oldest and most respected Pinot Noir wineries in the United States.
– Mother nature reduced our 2015 grape harvest by 60%, but should produce an amazing vintage!
– We finished the year by having 2 restaurants carry Turtle Vines Pinot Noir on their wine list. Muir’s Tea Room here in Sebastopol and Millennium Restaurant in Oakland (the #1 rated Vegetarian restaurant in the World)
– Lastly, we continue to get the love and support from our many friends, family, colleagues and supporters of our vineyard and winery!!!

We hope your 2015 was just as eventful and we wish you a wonderful 2016.