A few weeks ago we drove 2 hours north to Mendocino, along the California coast. Occasionally you have to get away to allow you to think what is good and what needs to be improved in your life and in this case Turtle Vines vineyard and winery.
Hard to believe, but we started on this adventure when we purchased our house in 2008. In that time we prepared the land, planted 3130 pinot noir vines (enough for 5-6 tons of fruit), made 3 vintages of wine, acquired organic certification, found a buyer for grapes and were permitted to sell wine! Wow…what a ride so far. But every year you have to see what works and what doesn’t and make improvements…so here goes.
– Let Pinot Noir ferment with wild yeast, if needed, then introduce assmenhausen yeast.
– Find a distributor/restaurant for wine and develop a bigger following. This could include wine-on-tap.
– Acquire the .organic name when it is available.
– Keep Merlot separate and pick later than Pinot.
– Obtain a professional review for marketing…perhaps Prince of Pinot.
– Determine optimal amount of wine to make
– Blend 2014 Pinot for optimal taste of 3 possible wines
– Become profitable.
– Add another 1/2 pound epson salt per vine to decrease potassium. It has come down from 2100ppm to 1200ppm but needs to be around 500ppm.
– Add Boron to spray prior to bloom. Only spray seaweed once at bloom otherwise it will increase pH of grapes later in the season. Add sulfur to spray rotation for cost and spider mites.
* Stylet oil/Boron prior to bloom
* Serenade/seaweed at bloom
* Alternate serenate/stylet oil/bicarbonate/sulfur the rest of the season
* Boron in the fall
– Dry farm as much as possible, especially the Pommard
– Hire out bigger jobs, especially shoot straightening/thinning in May to create airflow and prevent mildew. In addition…pruning and harvest.
– Fill out paperwork to become “Sustainable” in addition to being certified Organic.
– Drop more fruit for short canes
– Become profitable.
It has been a very busy May so far and I just want to update you on what is happening in the vineyard.
First off, the weather has been warm/hot and dry, in fact our “Growing Degree Days” are running 20% higher than last year. This is a measure of the weather for us farmers. For the rest of you it means I’m 2-3 weeks ahead of last year, so it has been more stressful than last year at this time.
We started the month with bloom. They say that from bloom to harvest is around 120 days, so that will put harvest in early to mid September.
The rest of the month so far has been devoted to thinning shoots on the vines, positioning the shoots so they grow straight and leave room for the grapes, clipping the wires together and weeding. The result is the picture above…well manicured vines! Just have to finish weeding on 2/3 of the vineyard and we are good to go.
One downside of the nice weather is that the powdery mildew is a big concern, so I have started spraying with oil much earlier than last year.
What is next? I have to start leafing around the BB sized grapes so the spraying is more effective and the develop a sun tan so they are better able to stand the summer heat.
I’ve put some pictures below of the work so far this month.
After shoot thinning, shoot positioning is the next in a line of process steps to hopefully ensure that all the grapes ripen evenly in the vineyard.
Ideally you should position the shoots so they are at least 3” apart along the fruiting wire and not crossed with another shoot. This will allow uniform sun to each grape cluster for ripening later in the summer. Since we only have 4 shoots per vine and 40 inches between vines…..should be easy. However, since we I’m trying to do this ourselves, it will take time to adjust the canopy wires and attach the canopy clips, all 3200 of them.
Anyone care to take a walk in the vineyard in the next few weeks with me…..just show up around 9 AM for an unspoiled walk
The picture below left is of very healthy but unruly vines. On the right is after I have positioned the shoots and installed a “C” clip to hold the vines in place. Takes me about 20-30 seconds per vine, so about 20-30 hours and I’ll have the vineyard all set!