Well…we have been busy here here at Turtle Vines the last few month. I will just catch you up on the highlights!
For my Birthday this last January Joanne gave me a Vinmetrics 300 so I can now do pH/TA and Sulfur tests on our wine and grapes during harvest season. We tried them out and compared them to our local lab and found it to be quite accurate and pretty easy to use, although I had to channel my high school chemistry lab (thanks Mr Fletcher).
We bottled and labelled our 2014 Merlot…sorry not for sale as we only had 4 cases, but if you are lucky enough to be in town, I’ll open up a bottle. It is the perfect pizza wine. Last week I labelled our 2013 Pinot and spun capsules on the tops. I REALLY like this wine, as does the “Prince of Pinot”, so if you want some order it fast when I release it in the next few weeks. We also bottled, labelled and capsuled our 2014 Sauvignon Blanc (8 cases). This year it is much more like a traditional Sauvignon Blanc since we had more Clone 1 than last year. And I researching an easy way to make Champagne on a small scale!
Lastly, as you can see from the picture above, the vines have grown like crazy this year. Not only did Bud Break and Bloom happen 2 weeks ahead of last year, but the last 6 weeks were perfect for plant growth…warm with a few instances of rain. We have finished shoot thinning and moving wires…but we now have to shoot straighten to prevent powdery mildew, hedge the top at 6.5′ for the perfect amount of foliage, leaf and weed whack around the base. Hoping to finish these by the first week of June, and then the vineyard will be in great shape for the rest of the year.
As vintner Merry Edwards puts it: “There is no other place in the world where all the right conditions converge to create the kaleidoscopic aroma profile and the rich, full texture so recognizable in pinots produced in our appellation.”
The vineyard, as always, has been a lot of work in May. On the 27th we got all the vines in the wires, a second pass of shoot thinning, twins removal and sucker removal. This year it was only myself and Bernadino, so a lot of work.
If you notice in the picture above, the Pommard Pinot clone has gone crazy this year! Some of the shoots are 2′ above the top wire already and I’ll have to hedge very soon before they get out of control. I talked to a few other growers and they all say the same thing…lots of growth. Hopefully it will translate to fantastic fruit later in the year.
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.
We are finally getting all of our fruit and trellis wires at Turtle Vines. I elected to have Rob’s guys install them as they would probably be a lot faster than I would be to install them. For the fruit wire we used 12 gauge and for the trellis wires I elected to put up 3 sets for a more finished look. Those are 14 gauge. We put wire crimps on one side and gripples on the other side.
They are coming out great and I hope that next year they work great for our expected 0.75 tons of Pinot noir.
Most of my vines in the west end of the vineyard are >3.5’ tall. As you can see in the picture, the rebar is 3’ tall. When they get to 4.5-5’ tall then I will cut them to 30” tall so they will go into a little shock and put more shoots horizontally…..which will be canes for next years crop. I was going to put up the wires in the next few weeks, but right now I’m in no hurry. If I tie them up at 3’, then they will have support and I don’t need wires unless we get a big wind. That is not likely…..so I will put them up when I get to them this summer. Hope my plan works! By next year I need to put up a fruit wire and 2 trellis wires.