Welcome to the Broken Earth blog page.
We have experienced a truly amazing winter here in Paso Robles. There has been enough rain to get most of the state out of the drought and we have received a total of 12.2 inches of rain at our estate vineyard.
This bounty of rain has led to shades of green wherever you look. The vineyard is fresh with a thick cover crop, wild grasses, and of course bud break – the time of year we get a hint of what the coming harvest will look like.
On a recent trek through the estate, we were able to see for ourselves where bud break had already occurred and which varietals were still holding out. The Chardonnay blocks are the furthest along, followed by the Syrah and Albariño. The Cabernet blocks have sprouted a few buds, but are a little further behind. We also have many new plantings that are still in grow-tubes. Although they will bud this year, we will not be using the fruit for at least two to three more years.
When asked about the upcoming growing season, winemaker Chris Camron said, “I am excited about the consistency of bud break throughout the vineyard and I look forward to seeing what this vintage has to give”. The idea that every vintage is different is what keeps the wine making process exciting.
We invite you to join us on the journey of this growing season by following our blog or connecting with us on social media.
Photo Credit: Kate Hauber and Annie Bowsky
Yesterday we had the opportunity to bring together Winemaker Chris Camron, as well as members of both our vineyard and production teams to taste the upcoming 2016 vintage.
This vintage was known for the El Niño that didn’t quite happen, although we still received more rain at the vineyard than we had the past few drought years. Beyond that, the vintage was pretty normal with the fluid temperature highs and lows of the Paso Robles growing season.
To start, the group tasted through the whites, which included Albariño, Vermentino, and Verdelho, just to name a few. Many of which are soon to be bottled and released for your summer enjoyment. There were also two separate Chardonnays that will spend a little more time in French oak before bottling.
Further down the line were the varying varieties of reds, separated out based on the blocks they were picked from. Unlike the whites, the reds are still in their infancy and will be spending more time in oak before being blended or featured as a single varietal.
The true star of the tasting was the 2016 Grenache Rosé! This wine is a shade of pastel peach with the scent of wild strawberries. And the best news is that it’s already in bottle and will be available soon, perfect for the warming spring weather.
We could not be more excited about this vintage and look forward to sharing these wines with you.
Photo Credit: Kate Hauber
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.