AT VERAISON 8/5/2006
AT VERAISON 8/5/2006
Our enchanted vineyard is situated on rolling hills, 1400 feet above sea-level and
approximately twenty miles from the Pacific Ocean. It is situated along the Long Valley Creek
that flows into the Santa Margarita River, which in turn flows into the Pacific Ocean.
The vineyard was established by land developers in the 1960's to demonstrate the Temecula
Valley area's wine grape growing capability to potential land purchasers. It was planted to
Johannisberg Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, varieties found to excel in
this coastal valley. Other varietals, including Syrah, Viognier, Palomino, Grenache, Cabernet
Franc and Muscat were planted later.
Our grapes are handcrafted to perfection in the vineyard. We follow the adage that good
wines are made in the vineyard. We keep close control on the grapes from bud-break to
harvest. Our vineyard managemenet includes proper fertilization, pruning, shoot thinning and
In our pest management program we lean toward organic practices. However, we pay close
attention to the vines at all times and, whenever a problem arises, we treat it early by applying
state-of-the-art remedies and techniques.
To produce the best wine-making grapes, we follow an automatic-sensing program that senses
the soil water content every 15 minutes and, based on actual weather conditions, controls the
amount of water dispensed through the drip-irrigation system.
The grapes are continuously monitored by the winemaker to insure that they are harvested at
the degree of maturity desired for the style of wine to be produced.
Happenings in the Vineyard
Spring has arrived in the vineyard. The dormant grape vines have sprung to life. We
had prepared for this event by pruning the vines in February and early March. Pruning
started as soon as we could reasonably expect not to have below freezing
temperatures overnight in the vineyard. First we pruned the white grape varietals,
such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Viognier and Palomino. Then we pruned
the reds that are in the lower portion of the vineyard because the cold air tends to
settle there, and also because most of the reds come in and mature later in the season
than the whites.
The spring rains have subsided and we had bud-break around March 15th or so. By
now the leaves have grown considerably and we expect the vines to bloom and set
fruit in the next couple of weeks. Alex has begun his irrigation program and the
injection of fertilizers.
Tomorrow at 2 a.m. he will be spraying the vineyard with the anti-fungal Thiolux
solution. The reason that the spraying occurs during the wee hours of the morning is
because of the winds that blow later in the day. By circa 8 o'clock the spraying will be
complete for this time.
Also tomorrow, Friday, May 5th, he will purchase a mower to be attached to our small
tractor for the purpose of mowing the cover-crop which in our vineyard are the weeds
that grow between the rows of grapevines. Last year we disced the rows for weed
control but found the heavy rains washing down too much soil.
Many tight clusters of green grapes have formed under the vigorous canopy of the
vines. Since late May we have been shoot thinning, a process by which weaker shoots
and downward growing shoots are removed to allow the remaining ones to absorb
more nutrients and provide better, more flavorful and rich tasting fruit.
Due to the many consecutive days of above 100 degree F. temperatures it was not
necessary to spray the Thiolux solution, since mildew cannot live above 90 degrees F.
The maturation process of the grape bunches seems delayed, however, as could be
expected, given the many weeks of hot day time temperatures we have had.
Our weed control this year consisted of repeated mowings, thus giving better access
to the vines at harvest time and reducing the fire danger as well as protecting the top
soil. This year the opening of Fire Season was on May 1st, a full month before the
normal date of June 1st.
August 5 th.
This week, around the first of August, the intense triple-digit temperatures and high
humidity conditions abated. With the weather back to normal, we observed the onset
of veraison , the stage in the grape development which marks the beginning of
ripening, when the grapes change from the hard, green state to their softened and
colored form. The new green canes also commence to ripen, turning brown and
becoming woody. Sugar and size of berries increase during veraison, and their acidity
decreases. Also, veraison marks the end of the season of our spraying against
mildew. With the onset of color the berries are now no more susceptible to the
The onset of veraison is seen in the photos to the left. The upper is a picture taken this
morning of a Cabernet Sauvignon vine, where a few grapes have just changed color.
The lower photo is that of a Muscat Canelli, with a whole cluster on the right hand
that had changed into a golden color while the others are still green .
In anticipation of harvest, which we expect to start in early September, we will spend
our time monitoring the health of grapes and watch for insects that attack the
maturing fruit. We will also be monitoring the sugar levels within the fruit, as the
grapes have to be harvested at the exactly right sugar content. A refractometer is
used for sugar measurement.
Hopefully, we will tell you about the harvest next month.