Category Archives: Sonoma Wine Country

Hafner Winery, Graton Ridge and Redwood Food Bank !!!

May 2 2013 vineyard

The photo above is Turtle Vines on May 2, 2013. As you can see we have weeded, thinned the shoots, and moved the wires for the first time. Next up is to arrange the shoots so they all are growing up straight and tall with plenty of room between them. This takes a lot of time walking up and down each row and attaching c-clips to the wires. But when it is done, there is not a prettier site in the vine world, OK…maybe seeing flowering a few days ago. (oh, and on the bottom of the picture is our patch of raspberries. They grow like crazy as I think we have at least 5 times as many canes as last year.)

We had an amazing Wine Country day last Saturday, May 27th, 2013..

Our friends Bill and Lauren invited us to the annual Hafner Winery spring party for loyal Wine Club Members. We had never been there, but it was set on a hill in Alexander Valley surrounded by 150 acres. They started over 30 years ago and produce around 15,000 cases of estate grown wine. The most amazing thing is that the key jobs are all family members, three generations of them! Was a great time, good food and we came away with some great Chardonnay.

Next we stopped of at our favorite local winery, Graton Ridge. Art and Barbara are what Sonoma County is all about. They started this winery 5 years ago after having lived here their whole lives. They make award winning wines and make you feel special every time you walk in their door.

Lastly, we ended the evening at the Redwood Food Bank’s Opening of their new facility near the Sonoma County Airport. This facility was 6 years in the making and is a charity we support. They feed and educate folks here in Sonoma County who can’t afford to put food on their table every night. I was amazed that around 300 folks showed up to this charity event. They auctioned off bowls (we came home with two) and other larger items. The highlight was a fundraiser to finish their kitchen. It was so great to see that they raised $170,000 from most of the people in the room, including us.

If you ever come visit Russian River Valley from April to October, there is no shortage of events like this to occupy your weekends.


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.


Freez’in Season in Russian River Valley

TV freezin season

From bud break until April 15th we all hold our collective breath here in Russian River Valley hoping that we won’t have a hard freeze that will damage our small shoots.  That would be very sad.  With not much rain since December 2012, the warm 2013 spring like weather and my decision to prune early, our first bud break was 3 weeks earlier than last year.  This time next week most of my vines will have small shoots that hold our crop for the fall. If I get a hard freeze, it will be a very small crop…hope for warm nights!

Pictured above was this mornings fog covering Turtle Vines.  So romantic and a welcome sight.  If you don’t know, if the sky is clear then it will be cold…but if we have fog it does not normally drop below 40 degrees.

Last night we went to San Francisco to see our Nephew’s showing of portraits at the Lexington Bar.  He had a great turn-out and we were very happy to see Cody and Andrea.  In addition, Joey took the picture below of the Golden Gate Bridge as the fog was rolling in the bay.  If you have never been there to see it, quite amazing!

golden gate fog



What’s next?

P1000408So….many of you are saying to yourselves, what is Doug going to do with himself all winter. Well, we decided to have a little fun and went to Portland for the weekend. Of course, we had to visit wineries and sample Pinot noir. Two big differences that we noticed and liked….they use less oak and have less alcohol.

Seriously, in the vineyard I have to take all the nets off, start pruning, figure out where to fertilize for next year and control the gophers. In the winery I have to check on malolactic fermentation and rack the wines every 2-3 months and perform sulfur additions. And lastly, I have to get myself in shape for next years growing season as I will have (hopefully) four times the number of grapes as this year, or 5600 pounds!

Labels and Taste of Sonoma

WCWAnother rough weekend here in Sebastopol. Since my little babies are getting ready to be harvested in 3 weeks and this time of year there is a lot of praying to the weather gods but not a lot of work to be done…it was time to celebrate at the 33rd “Taste of Sonoma”. 207 wineries and 75 food pairing under 4 large tents….all for Charity. Joanne and I, my brother Don and his wife Patti from Connecticut, my nephew Cody and his fiance’ Andrea from San Francisco all set out Saturday to eat, drink and look for good labels for our bottles. Below are a few we liked and will put on our dream board to come up with our Turtle Vines 2012 Pinot noir label.Label


100% Solar Vineyard

solarAs some of you know, when we purchased our home almost 4 years ago, it came with 44 – 170w solar panels for a total of 7480w DC. Well, since we just permitted the apartment above the barn as a vacation rental and we plan on storing our wine in the barn which will require a new refrigeration unit in a few years, we starting looking at adding more solar. It turns out that the top roof on the barn is the ideal location for solar panel, but we can only fit 10 – 240w panels. So a local firm, Synergy Solar, is installing the system on Wednesday and our electric bill should be near $0 for 2012 !!! This will put us at 9880w DC of solar….enough for us, vacation renters and refrigeration.

When the system is up I’ll put a new picture up on the web.

Sea Turtle Protection

turtle Pendant

This is not vineyard related…..but since we love Sea Turtles…..this is great news. I’m reprinting the article below.

The U.S. took a huge step toward protecting endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles last week by finalizing a critical habitat designation for 40,000 square miles ocean off the shores Washington, Oregon and California.
The designation protects areas where leatherbacks feed on  jellyfish after swimming 6,000 miles across the ocean from nests in Indonesia. Leatherbacks are the most migratory and wide ranging of sea turtle species. They are also the largest of all sea turtles, growing  up to nine feet long and weighing up to 2,000 pounds.
The critical habitat designation is the first permanent safe haven for leatherbacks designated in continental U.S. waters and the largest area set aside to protect sea turtle habitat in the United States or its territories.
Pacific leatherback populations have declined by as much as 80 percent just in the past few decades. Threats include direct harvesting of turtles and eggs and incidental capture in fishing gear. As few as 2,300 adult female western Pacific leatherbacks remain.
Harvest of eggs and adults occurs on nesting beaches while juveniles and adults are harvested on feeding grounds. Incidental capture primarily occurs in gillnets, but also in trawls, traps and pots, longlines, and dredges. Together these threats are serious ongoing sources of mortality.
“Habitat protections are vital to the survival of leatherbacks. We urgently need migration safeguards for these ancient animals as they make the longest, most epic journey of any creature on the planet to get to our West Coast every year,” said Catherine Kilduff, with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Center for Biological Diversity was one of three groups that petitioned for increased protection, along with Oceana and the Turtle Island Restoration Network.
According to Kilduff, the 40,000 square miles designated for protection will be crucial to the survival of the giant turtle. While the designation is significant, it doesn’t go far enough to protect protect turtles’ migratory paths from commercial fishing, water pollution and marine vessel traffic.
“This is a major decision to protect feeding hotspots for endangered leatherback sea turtles, but the federal government failed to acknowledge that the turtles need safe passage to get there,” said Ben Enticknap, Oceana’s Pacific project manager.
The new regulation excludes protections for migration through these habitats and also excludes consideration of dangers to the turtles from fishing, such as mile-long drift nets used for swordfish off California.
“Leatherbacks finally have a safe haven along our coast, but still face extinction due growing threats from fisheries, pollution and ship strikes,” said Teri Shore, program director at in California.
“Though it is commendable that critical ocean habitats along the West Coast are now being protected for the leatherback sea turtle, it fails to recognize the laborious journey these animals travel,” said California Assemblyman Paul Fong, who authored the state’s new shark fin ban. “In order to better educate the public and bring awareness to the conservation efforts needed to protect these remarkable creatures, I will be introducing legislation that will name the Pacific leatherback sea turtle as California’s state marine reptile.”
Mile-long drift gillnets and longline gear used to catch swordfish, sharks and tunas are the two types of fishing gear most commonly known to capture and kill leatherback sea turtles. While current regulations restrict fishing to protect these sea turtles, the Fisheries Service is currently developing proposals to expand the use of these fishing gears into areas important to the leatherback.
Critical habitat requires the government to avoid destruction by permitted activities. Any new wave energy, offshore drilling or coastal projects in the critical habitat areas requiring federal permits would require the Fisheries Service to assess and prevent harm to leatherback feeding areas and jellyfish. Species with critical habitat protected under the Endangered Species Act are twice as likely to be recovering as those without.
The leatherback sea turtles feeding off the U.S. West Coast make the longest known migration of any reptile, across the Pacific Ocean where they nest on beaches in Papua, Indonesia. They make this great migration to feed on jellyfish in the productive ocean waters of the American Pacific. They are generally found off the West Coast in the summer and fall months.