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The seemingly basic task of pruning is actually one of the most important – determining the yield, spacing, even the quality of the next vintage. Since November, our crew has been hard at work cutting back last year’s canes.
These are a few shots of our last Cabernet block (Clone 4) to get the shear treatment.
The vines in their dormant stage. Once the leaves fall, pruning can get underway.
We prune in stages, first removing the top half of the canes, which sometimes involves wresting the canes off of the trellis wire.
Brian making the final cut.
On Saturday we finished our Viognier harvest with fruit harvested for Bill Arbios and his Praxis Cellars label. We were so happy to hear from him that the 2012 Viognier (50% of our fruit) won a “Gold Medal” and “Best of Class” at the 2013 Indy International Wine Competition.
We poured our Estate 1856 wines at the Family Winemakers Tasting in San Francisco in August and he shared a taste with me from a bottle that he was there to show to the trade and consumers. Strikingly varietal, with tropical fruit notes and a long flavorful finish. Highly recommended!
Our 2.2 acre Viognier block is planted to two clones: clone 1 and clone 642. It is trained on a spur pruned cordon trellis with an extension arm on the afternoon side to prevent sunburn. We do remove leaves on the morning side for sun exposure as this variety responds with great flavor intensity when kissed by a bit of sunlight. Viognier is a very flavorful and complex varietal…with hints of tropical fruit, peaches, apricots blended into an intensely perfumed wine that has great depth and lingering mouthfeel!
This week we dove into our Chardonnay…harvesting it for Kendall Jackson. I really love the modifications that we made to our VSP trellis system…we added a high 24″ crossarm to create a “V” effect in the upper canopy…allowing the shoots to slightly spread out close to the cordon next to their spur position…and really spread out at the top! With our row orientation…SW by NE…it provides nice morning sun exposure while providing afternoon shade.
Merlot – 23.4 B (update: 24.2 B on Saturday – winery test)
Malbec – 19.5 B
Cabernet (winery test) – 20.0 B
We have finished our white grapes…nicely complete before this current heat wave. We are going to see a sugar bump from the heat in our red varieties but I am hoping that we can keep the later varieties Cabernet, Malbec and Petit Verdot on the vine for about another two weeks. The Merlot though is quite close with phenologically ready shoots and seeds…so it will probably be ready sometime this coming week.
Nice increase in sugar content over a very hot week last week that could have seen abnormal heat driven sugar increases but didn’t. The weather should be closer to normal average temps this week…so sugar accumulation may slow a bit…not a problem as we have lots of good weather ahead!
Flavors are great…Chardonnay is again smelling like fresh, crisp new apples while the Sauvignon blanc is showing classic Sauv blanc characters. The Viognier is progressing well….the spicy floral notes will start to shine closer to 24 Brix.