The cold and breezy weather of last week seems to be behind us, which is a bit of a relief. I'm hoping our normal warm and mild weather will hold for a few weeks to get us through bloom in the vineyard.
The vineyard is looking amazingly good this year. The trellis is full and the size of the crop looks great -- if we get a good bloom and set.
The Sonoma Jazz Festival went off this past weekend. I had a good group of visitors to the Salon in spite of it. These events don't bring people to our little Valley for wine (unless it's free). I actually took a day off for the Memorial Day holiday -- 24/365 gets old without an occasional break.
I've been dealing today with the repercussions of a spambot taking over one of my mail lists on our server. Sorry to everyone who got spammed from our wine club address. I think the hole is plugged.
Harvest Moon Cafe
Nick Demarest, chef/owner of Harvest Moon Cafe (487 First Street West on the Sonoma Plaza, 707.933.8160) and his excellent staff have discovered that our 1998 Sunny Oak Syrah is a nice complement to their fresh and inventive Mediterranean-influenced cuisine.
Nick started out at Berkeley's famed Chez Panisse and moved on to open the well-regarded Eccolo before opening Harvest Moon closer to his Glen Ellen home earlier this year.
A couple of the best meals I have had in recent months have been at Harvest Moon. The food and service have raised the bar a couple of notches here in our little town. I'm glad our wines have found such a good home.
Back From Marketing Trip
Flew to Houston last week for a partners' meeting and a special visit to The Tasting Room
in Uptown Park, to introduce our wines to the Texas market. Thanks to everyone who dropped by to taste with us, and special thanks to Matthew McLaughlin of The Tasting Room and Leon Sierra of Mid-State Wine & Liquor.
After a dab of rain on Friday we received about 0.70 inches here in Sonoma yesterday (Sunday). According to my count that puts us over 50 inches total for the season so far.
Rain at this time of year can wash out mildew prevention treatments, and may promote Botrytis infections. I think we are OK at the Annadel Estate on both counts, but I will be on high alert to catch anything before it gets established. We are still some time away from bloom, so this weather does not threaten the 2006 crop -- I just pray it doesn't continue.
The warm weather over the last month has really pushed the vines. It seems that there was only six inches of growth just a few weeks ago. Now there is a couple of feet and the vines are looking really hairy. I need to get the crews off of everything else and put them on suckering.
05.12.06 New Block Layout Complete
This morning I met with Vineyard manager Jean-Marie Martin at our Annadel Estate as planned. Layout of the new Pinot Noir blocks is complete and T-posts and pencil rods are in place.
Not a lot of clear detail in this picture taken from the northeast corner of the Grenache block, but you can see the extent of the layout.
PVC pipe, fittings, drip tubing and emitters were delivered this morning for the irrigation and frost control system in the new area. Jean-Marie was waiting on a call from a guy in St. Helena with a special tractor-mounted tool that vibrates the end posts into the ground rather than pounding them. J-M is hoping to schedule with him for next week.
By the time I get back from my quarterly partners' meeting and marketing trip to Texas next week, I hope to see a lot of progress. The vines will not be delivered until July at the soonest, so we have plenty of time to get everything perfect -- especially the irrigation -- before we put the tender green potted grafts into the ground.
My vineyard management guy, Jean-Marie Martin, has the crews out at our Annadel Estate
working on the layout for the 2006 planting of Pinot Noir
These guys are used to dealing with easier layouts. To allow Westwood to eventually develop a winery on the site I need to put a jog to the east in the middle access road. Since tractor-trailers will have to negotiate these bends they need to be broad and smooth. This means the layout for the vines has only about 10 rows that are the same length.
To make things more complicated, while the clone 777 on the west side of the central road has the same 6' x 5' spacing as the older Pinot, long ago I decided that the spacing on the east side of the road would be 6' x 4'. The 777 Pinot will be trained to bilateral cordon like the clones 115 & 667, but everything to the east -- starting with the clone 943 -- will be cane-pruned to double Guyot. It is surprising how little information on vine training is available online, but if you want to see pictures of Guyot pruning check here
To make sure the crews have something easy to look forward to, I'm adding three full rows to the Grenache planting. This time I'm putting in Tablas Creek clone D to supplement the TC clones A & B already out there. I recently tasted some clonal trial wines with Neil Collins, the Tablas Creek winemaker, at the Nova Vine booth at the 2006 Unified Symposium, and the TC clone D showed extraordinarily well to me. I probably would have planted this instead of the clones A & B if the D had been available back then. Part of the risk of being an early adopter, I suppose -- the realization that release 2.0 is frequently better than 1.0.
Jean-Marie and I are meeting Friday morning to look over the layout and make sure I'm happy with it, and to resolve some irrigation and drainage issues.
Warm And Dry Enough For Tractor Work
We are enjoying a warm and sunny afternoon even though we have a cold low sagging over the region today. All the low was able to produce was a cool morning (high 50's) under a deep marine layer that didn't break up until 1 pm. It has been dry enough that today the tractor could get out to mow in the Estate vineyard. Yay! -- no overgrown weeds this year after all!
I had a great visit this morning with a family from Ukraine that went on through the afternoon. Now I'm done for the day and think I will take off for some much needed and long delayed family time. Going to play with my kids in the sun.
05.01.06 Enough Said
OK so I don't want to get too political here, but opportunistic fearmongers are attacking the lives and livelihoods of people I have known and respected for 20 years. It is morally reprehensible to break up families, and to turn millions of taxpayers and potential citizens into felons by legislative fiat based on specious ideology. Shame on you.