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Recent years have exhibited weather patterns that resulted in severe stress in our vineyard. 2013 was officially the driest year in recorded history and then 2014 became the warmest year in recorded history. This double ‘whammy’ will have long term effects on grape yields, vine vigour and general vine health.
We took an aggressive approach to our soil amelioration program this year and, along with 7.5” of very timely rainfall, have seen some excellent results.
The process involved cultivation of every other row. The reason for this is to maintain solid ground in opposing rows to allow equipment access for spraying etc. Additionally, the cultivation ‘prunes’ the vines’ surface roots to encourage more feeder root growth and it would be potentially distressing to do this on both sides of the vine. The rows are single tyne deep-ripped about 12” from the vine trunks, followed by a patented floating plate beneath the soil that lifts sections of soil vertically to ensure greater penetration of air, moisture and nutrients.
We applied 1800 tons of high grade compost across the 520 acres of vines.
To see how well it works compare these two photos of me standing in the mid-rows. The difference in the mid-row crop is remarkable. Mid row crops are used to provide organic bulk back to the soil and raise the available free nitrogen levels. The crops are eventually mowed and disked into the soil.
WITHOUT SOIL AMELIORATON
WITH SOIL AMELIORATON
In more ways than one, we are focused more and more on the environment. This photo shows the delivery of our second new tractor that replaces older, higher emission units. In addition, we are also replacing our two major well pump engines with cleaner, more fuel-efficient machines. All contributing to decreasing our carbon foot print dramatically.
This current initiative alone represents an investment of more than $400,000 and it emphasizes our commitment to the environment.
2015 also sees an aggressive approach to soil amelioration and our determination to give back to the earth. We have just completed a major program that saw the application of 1,800 tons of compost following a unique deep ripping process. Every second row is deep ripped near the vine’s surface roots and a floating plate lifts and breaks the sheets of soil ripped. This allows valuable intake of air and a more direct target for compost application.
The amazing results of this program can easily been seen in this second photo. This is a shot of our mid-row crops and it echoes the health of the soil. Once going to seed, which is the time the crop is at its peak with Nitrogen, the crop will be cut and disked into the soil, providing valuable free Nitrogen and organic ‘bulk’.
We have also progressed with our new plantings and we have decided to experiment with different varieties. In addition to the ‘staples’ of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, we are adding Cabernet Franc, extending our Petit Verdot plantings, as well as more Tempranillo. What is also exciting is the addition of Fiano, Torrontes and Nero d’Avola. While these are smaller plantings, they will add to the array of exclusive parcels we produced primarily for you, our wine club members.