Vineyard Prep For 2011
The vineyards are mesmerizing on winter mornings. Ribbons of green, between russet rows of vines, bereft of foliage. The rays of the rising sun sparkle on the calm surface of the Laguna de Santa Rosa in the background and a transparent film of mist softens the silhouette of the Mayacamas mountains that frame our valley.
Quail Hill vineyard, deliberately planted with fourteen clones of Pinot Noir carefully selected to match slope and aspect is our most precious asset. Today, the vineyard crew is busy pruning the vines moving briskly down the bare rows, deftly removing the canes that bore last years fruit to make room for this years shoots. The long bare canes, separated from the vines that grew them lie in neat piles on the grass waiting to be mulched and returned to the ground. It is the cycle of the vineyard, but these are the same canes that weathered a cold summer, suffered through mysterious leaf curl and then were subjected to multiple heat spikes. They made it through all that, managed to keep most of their fruit and gave us a vintage that is already showing great potential. Earth to earth….
Jason, our vineyard manager who is rarely seen here in the office, has become a fixture these past few days, as he argues for his field tractor, harvest trailer and heavy duty truck the most expensive items on his equipment requests. His blue eyes flashing his lean body coils forward as he describes how much more effective his crew can be with light bars on the tractor enabling night harvest! I watch Lynn, the most experienced businessman I know, push back, but not too hard. As Jason points to the numbers that fill up the Excel spreadsheet projected on the wall, Lynn leans back in his chair with his hands clasped behind his head, and I know the joust is over. After all, they are both after the same goal – the care of Quail Hill Vineyard and its precious vines, some of which are almost forty years old!
Nonetheless, it must be said – the wine business is an expensive business that demands capital for facilities, equipment, barrels up front for revenue that will be realized up to three years later! It is not for the fainthearted, it requires equal measures of hope, optimism and willingness to trade your child’s college fund for the privilege of pursuing the perfect juice! Viva la tractor!