Tag Archives: drought

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!

2015 Fall Wine Announcement

2013 PN

Turtle Vines – Fall 2015

Greetings from Sebastopol!

California in the News
With much of California suffering from drought and fires, we feel quite fortunate to be in Sebastopol. Although the “Valley Fire” just north of Calistoga is a little over an hour away, we were never in danger. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the many fire victims that have lost their homes and belongings.

Although California has been in a drought for four years, the aquifer that supplies our home and vineyard is pretty full. Of course we are doing everything to conserve, like letting our beautiful lawn die, so that we can save what we need for our crops. The way we farm, our grapes use very little water.

2015 was our 4th harvest and vintage. Where does the time go? Unusually high temperatures in the spring produced a very early “bud break”. This was followed by a month of cool and damp weather. All this resulted in very small berries. The good news is that small berries make great Pinot because of the increased skin to juice ratio. The bad news is that it reduced our anticipated tonnage by 55%.

Grape Sales
Besides making and selling Turtle Vines wine, we also sell some of our grapes. This year we are happy to announce our relationship with Hanzell Vineyard, one of the pioneer wineries in Sonoma County. In fact, they have the oldest continually producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards in North America! Our grapes will go into their non-estate Pinot Noir that will be available nationwide at select high-end restaurants in a few years.

2013 Turtle Vines Pinot Noir
We are very pleased to announce the release and immediate shipment of our 2013 Russian River Pinot Noir. 2013 was a wonderful growing season with a warm but not hot summer, followed by a cool and dry fall that was perfect for Pinot Noir fermentation. We could tell this was a special vintage at harvest and it continues to get better with age. The wine is smooth and fruity and finishes with a hint of acidity, typical of Russian River Valley Pinots.

Here’s how the Prince of Pinot describes our 2013 Pinot:
The Prince of Pinot: 88-89 Points “Moderate light cherry color in the glass. Aromas of red cherry, spice, and Herbs de Provence. Light in weight, but flavorful, with a good mid palate attack of cherry and raspberry fruits complimented by a hint of oak. Light on its feet and easy to cozy up to, with a refreshing cut of acidity on the finish.”

How to Buy
We are offering the 2013 Turtle Vines Pinot for $38 per bottle. Shipping is free with an order of 6 bottles or more. Buy a case and, in addition to free shipping, you will receive a Turtle Vines Collectors edition dish towel.


We still have 4 cases left of our 2012 Pinot offered at $34 per bottle with the same shipping and towel offer.

Other News
Our Turtle Vines 2012 and 2013 Pinot Noir, as well as our 2014 Sauvignon Blanc was selected by Eight Restaurant of Sebastopol for their “Wine Down Wednesday” this summer. It was a fun event and gave us a chance to showcase our wines. (See picture below)

Due to limited availability, our Sauvignon Blanc is no longer available for direct sales but can be enjoyed at Muir’s Tea Room in Sebastopol, while supplies last, along with the 2013 Pinot Noir.

Doug and Joanne Williams

Eight wines on table

Bud Break 2015 – Pray for Rain and a Cool Summer

Bud Break 2015


As everyone knows farmers worry a lot about the weather…so here goes mine.  California is in its 4th year of drought.  Last year we finished with a little over half the normal rainfall and this rainy season is almost over and we are in the same shape as last year…unless we get a lot of rain in March and April.

What does that mean for us here in Russian River Valley?  Well, last year bud break was March 11th with an early harvest of September 2nd.  We had bud break February 25th this year, 2 weeks ahead of last year!

Why this is bad:
– The sooner bud break, the more chance of a heavy frost damages the shoots and ruins the crop. Normally we worry until 4/15.
– If all the other milestones are early, we will harvest mid-August. With an early harvest the grapes will not mature correctly leading to poorer phenolics.
– The chance of rain ruining fruit set is greater.

But what can you do but enjoy the nice weather and hope for a cool summer.

2014 Vineyard Plan – Turtle vines



Our Hawk is back!  What does this have to do with our 2014 Vineyard Plan you ask…well, we want to be good stewards of the land by being organic yet grow the best tasting Pinot Noir possible.

2014 Improvement Activities:
1. Install a second irrigation line to 500 weak vines
2. Prune aggressively for 2014 to push root growth and conserve water intake due to the drought.
3. Water vines until “set”, or until the renewal spurs have grown appropriately.
4. Test petiole’s at bloom and make adjustments
5. Incorporate seaweed concentrate into foliar spraying plan to decrease shatter, increase berry size and grow healthier vines.
6. Vary powdery mildew/botrytis spray plan with Botector and Sulfur, in addition to Serenade, Stylet Oil and Soda.
7. Experiment with removing the basal leaves early in the season to avoid powdery mildew/botrytis.
8. Monitor TA and pH along with brix as harvest parameters.
9. Subcontract out bigger jobs if possible.