Greg Schultz
July 1, 2018 | Greg Schultz

Got Compost?

I spoke with Sarah at the Demeter Association (the organization responsible for certifying biodynamic farms) a few weeks ago to learn more about the certification process. I came away with a better understanding of what's involved and about the next steps. Our farm is already certified sustainable under the LIVE (Low Input Viticulture & Enology) program, so we are well on our way. For the past year or so we have been farming organically, although not certified, which is a prerequisite for the biodynamic program. In addition, special biodynamic preparations must be applied to the vineyard a few times a year. Ideally these preparations are made on the farm but they can also be purchased. Other preparations are incorporated into compost which is the primary biodynamic fertilizer.

4 week old compost pile on left; new one on right

We've learned a lot about making compost from our county extension classes--Debbie through the Master Gardener program and both of us through the Land Steward program. Time to get to work building our piles that will be spread into the vineyard next spring. We have an abundance of materials including kitchen scraps, yard waste, and manure with bedding from our chicken coop and sheep pen. We even have worm castings from our vermiculture bin. As a bonus this spring, we had some of the neighbor's cattle in the pasture for about eight weeks who left us with a lot of good material. The process of making the compost requires the piles to be turned, aerated, and watered every week or so. It's a good workout!

Speaking of sheep, I let them into an area of recently dried out grass not knowing it was full of stickers (locally known as fox tails) and the sheep got covered with them. Debbie and I spent three hours trying to pick the stickers out of their wool. In desperation I made a call to sheep shearer John Slocum. Thankfully he was going to be in on our road the next day. He expertly sheared all five sheep in about two hours, removing their wool and most all of the stickers. The rest were easy to find and remove and the sheep are all ready for the summer ahead. An added benefit is that we are able to use the wool as mulch around some grape vines!

Peter getting sheared   

Tempranillo vines with new fruit and wool mulch

In the vineyard our Tempranillo and Malbec vines are in the early stages of fruit set, meaning the young berries are just starting to swell. The plants are very healthy and are enjoying a moderate early summer. They are also responding well to the organic spray treatments they are receiving. Our second leaf Viognier and Petit Verdot plants have all been two-budded and are protected once again by grow tubes. Many of the plants have grown considerably; a small number, maybe 5%, will have to be replanted from cuttings next spring. And we are expecting delivery any day now of 2,000 new vines which will give us a total of six acres planted. The new vines are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Suavignon, all from the Bordeaux family of grapes.

In the winery we expect to start bottling this week with our 2017 Rock Tempranillo rosé up first. We are excited to get rosé back in the tasting room after selling out of the 2016 vintage rather quickly. This also looks to be our biggest bottling to date of about 900 cases, including our very first estate red Tempranillo. It's going to be a busy summer!

               Front label of new Tempranillo

Time Posted: Jul 1, 2018 at 12:32 PM
Greg Schultz
May 2, 2018 | Greg Schultz

Springtime in the Applegate


Cherry blossoms in full bloom

In the vineyard...

Our new mowing crew of 5 Babydoll sheep

Since we don't use herbicide in our vineyard we do lots of mowing, weed eating, and hand digging of grasses and weeds. We've made three passes through the vineyard on the mower to try to keep ahead of our prolific grasses whose growth can be measured in MPH this time of year. Using garden forks we hand dug prickly leaf lettuce and other forbs with large tap roots adjacent to our 1,700 2nd leaf vines. The young plants don't need the competition from the weeds and using a weed-whacker near them is too risky. Weed-whacking has been limited to the east end of the vineyard which we will plant this summer. We've just introduced Babydoll sheep to the vineyard. They are great little mowers and fertilizers and are another step toward our goal of biodynamic farming!

Tempranillo vine after first pruning

May 15th is historically the last frost date for our area. Many growers have mechanical means of protecting their fragile buds using either water sprays or large wind machines. We have neither, so we use cultural practices to minimize risk. By delaying the start of pruning until mid-March, we effectively push bud break out a few weeks. We also break our pruning into two passes. The first pass removes the bulk of last year's brush leaving five to seven buds on each spur. During the second pass which begins in mid-May, we will trim each spur down to the desired two bud level. The thinking is that if a late spring frost does kill some buds we have extras. Our last cultural practice is to keep the grass mowed between the vine rows. Frost tends to settle into low spots including tall grassy areas. By keeping the grass short we hope the colder air will naturally flow toward our creek bottom and away from the vines. Finally, on the coldest nights knowing we've done our best, we say a prayer and go to bed!

On the farm...

One of our neighbors needed a place to graze 12 cow-calf pairs and a bull for a few months. We have about 20 acres of pasture that needed to be grazed. They have been here a few weeks and seem to be very happy. We love having them here--they are fun to watch and are great for the pasture. On our animal camera we were able to photo another cow wandering onto our farm--this one of the elk variety.


In the winery...

We have lots of bottling coming up this summer including our very first estate Tempranillo. We are working with our graphic artist John Hiemenz on a new label and a few updates and are hoping to get them approved soon. Very exciting!


Time Posted: May 2, 2018 at 8:37 AM
Greg Schultz
February 22, 2018 | Greg Schultz

Progress on Upper Vineyard

This Morning in the Applegate

For the second morning in a row we have awakened to fresh snow. There is a lot to do on the farm today, but with snow still falling it's a great opportunity for me to sit down and compose this blog. If today is like yesterday, the snow will melt after lunch and we will get back outside.

We finished pounding in the last of the 600 line stakes into the new upper vineyard several weeks ago. With that accomplished the two block layout is well defined. The next step was for me to contact Oregon Vineyard Supply (OVS) and Applegate Vineyard Management (AVM) to purchase, deliver, and install 84 steel end posts--2 for each end of our 42 new rows. Jon from OVS delivered the posts and I helped him unload and stack them in the barn. It was a great workout. Each post weighs 60 pounds, so we moved and stacked 5,000 pounds of pipe in 1 hour. Remembering all of my back safety training I was careful to use my leg muscles for the heavy lifting. Love this farm work!

Viewed From Above, AVM Setting Up for End Post Installation

Installation of the end posts requires muscle and machine. I called AVM to come and look at the job. Consuelo and Alan came out and walked the site. Since the upper vineyard is on a 17% north facing slope they decided to use the crawler tractor with the pounder attachment for best traction. Ground conditions were nearly ideal when Alan and the crew came out for the work. The soil had enough moisture for the pounding to be easy but not so wet that the tractor bogged down. In 2 days all of the posts were in!

AVM Pounding In An End Post With A Crawler Tractor

We are working with Inland Desert Nursery out of Benton City, WA for the upper vineyard planting. I contacted them and was pleased to learn that we have a local representative. I contacted Jason Cole, whom we had met previously, to talk about our order for 2019. Our upper vineyard is a cooler microclimate due to elevation, shading, slope, and aspect so we are devoting it to varietals well-suited for these conditions. Just this morning we placed our order for Pinot noir (3 different clones), Chardonnay (3 different clones), and for something a little bit different, some Pinot blanc. Delivery is scheduled for May, 2019. The upper vineyard will be about 1 acre of red and 1 acre of white--250 cases of each when fully productive starting in 2022. Yum!

Next up is to plan, design, and install the irrigation system. Tom Fay of Fay Irrigation came out to walk the site. Tom helped us develop our creekside vineyard irrigation system in 2014 and has helped us immensely over the subsequent years. We talked through our options and settled on a course to take. I'm expecting his proposal in the mail any day now.

One day closer to an upper vineyard...


Time Posted: Feb 22, 2018 at 9:57 AM
Greg Schultz
December 27, 2017 | Greg Schultz

Chardonnay, LIVE, and Trademark

Looking south at our developing Chardonnay block

Our farm is 60 acres in total. In a warm SW facing site, we currently have 4 acres of vineyard planted with 2 more acres ready for next summer's Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvingon. In a cooler location, we are preparing an additional 2 acres for a 2019 planting of Chardonnay and Pinot noir. On the SW corner of our property, layout of the new site was completed this past summer. The line stakes have been pounded into place for the Chardonnay in a block which is oriented N-S on a 17% north facing slope at an average elevation of 1,550 feet. Due south of the block is a 2,500' hill which casts a long winter shadow resulting in no direct sunlight this time of year. We're hopeful that with the shading of the surrounding hills and the northerly aspect of the site that bud break will be significantly delayed in the spring thereby moderating the vine growth for a long, healthy growing season.

We are thrilled to announce that following a 2-year process including annual third-party audits, our Glory Oaks Vineyard is now LIVE Certified and Salmon-Safe Certified! LIVE is an acronym for Low Input Viticulture and Enology and is based on international sustainability criteria. Its objectives include "To promote viticulture that respects the environment, is economically viable, and sustains the multiple functions of agriculture, namely its social, cultural, and recreational aspects". LIVE promotes ecologically sensible production techniques for the whole farm including riparian areas and wildlife corridors. Salmon-Safe works in partnership with LIVE and "works to keep our urban and agricultural watersheds clean enough for native salmon to spawn and thrive".


Schultz Glory Oaks® is our new trademark. For several years, we have been working with local patent attorney Jerry Haynes to trademark our brand. The journey began with our desire to simply trademark "Schultz". Jerry informed us that we can't trademark a last name because everyone has one. We got a little farther down the road with "Schultz Wines" only to find out that there were other, too-similar marks already recorded. So what about Schultz Glory Oaks? It combines our wine and our vineyard. Jerry thought that would work and it did. On October 31, 2017 Registration Number 5,325,805 was granted. If you've had a bottle of our 2016 "Rock" Tempranillo Rosé, you'll see the mark in its first commerical use. We are now working with our graphic artist John Hiemenz to develop a logo and have confirmed that when you Google search Schultz Glory Oaks that you indeed will find us!


Time Posted: Dec 27, 2017 at 9:47 AM
Greg Schultz
October 31, 2017 | Greg Schultz

Smaller Harvest

Friends enjoying an afternoon on our deck

We completed harvest just before the first good rain of the season. Fruit quality was excellent judging by taste and analyses. Our initial harvest of Malbec from our 3rd leaf plants yielded 1.9 tons of high quality fruit. From our 4th leaf Tempranillo block we harvested 4.5 tons. The quality was also excellent, but the crop load was 20% lighter than in 2016. The clusters were smaller and so were the berries.

Greg dumping a bucket of Malbec into a bin

After a much larger than expected 2016 harvest of Tempranillo, we expected more, not less, fruit this year. After all, the vines were one year older and each plant now had two cordons (arms) instead of one. Our pruning and fruit thinning methods were unchanged. So what was different? In looking back over the course of the year we had later bud break and an earlier killing frost, so a shorter growing season.  We had numerous irrigation problems, virtually no rain, and five days over 100F with a maximum of 109F on August 2nd and 3rd. We have asked more experienced growers how their crops fared this year. Some yielded higher, others lower. We now believe that the most likely cause was a frost which occurred on April 15th and damaged many of the primary buds just before bud break. From the secondary buds we had smaller shoots which yielded smaller grape clusters. As new farmers, we will pay close attention as the 2018 crop develops next spring.

Malbec Block Update

While very pleased with our Malbec harvest, we are still carefully monitoring our 2,000 plants. In my last blog I talked about some mysterious plant deaths that occurred well into the growing season. I surmised with help from Alex Levin of the OSU Extension that our single degree January winter had caused freeze damage to our young plants. With the help of my son, Karl, who was visiting for a few days, we mapped out the entire block so that we can monitor on-going health.

Map identifies problem areas.  Green cells indicate healthy plants.

Using a spreadsheet to document the results, we now know that 1.5% of the vines died during the first two growing seasons probably due to gophers and the inevitable new plant losses. During the third growing season (this year) another 1.5% died as a result of weakened conditions caused by the very cold January we had. Additionally, there are 2% which may have Leafroll virus. We are keeping a close eye on these as they are still producing fruit for us, but may need to be culled out next year and be replaced.  

All in all we are pleased and thankful for a bountiful harvest. And for the lighter crop load and plant losses we can only say "that's farming"!

Time Posted: Oct 31, 2017 at 11:47 AM
Greg Schultz
August 26, 2017 | Greg Schultz

Awaiting Harvest, But Not Sitting Around!

The 1952 Chevy 5 window pickup shining like new!

Last Friday we caught up with our vineyard work. This is the first time since March when there hasn't been something pressing and needing attention. Excess fruit has been dropped from the vines and all of the spraying has been done. With harvest about 6 weeks out, we will continue to drip irrigate the plants gradually decreasing the frequency and amount as the weather begins to cool.

Even though the growing season started late this year due to the cold winter, the plants are now at the same development stage as last year. Veraison is the French term for the growth stage when the berries begin to develop color and soften. Our Tempranillo reached veraison on August 14th, which is 3 days earlier than last year; the Malbec is about a week later.

Color development in a Tempranillo cluster

We planted 1,700 new Viognier and Petit Verdot vines a little over a month ago. The goals for new plants are to protect them and keep them well watered. About 70% of the new plants have grown tall enough to reach out of their grow tubes, and most of the rest are not far behind. The inevitable losses are estimated at 1-2%. In a few weeks we will begin removing the grow tubes so that the young plants can harden off before winter.

Young vine popping out of its protective grow tube

We've lost about 1% of our 3rd leaf Malbec plants. I talked about this in a previous blog thinking that the plants were not getting the water that they need. This turned out to be the case, but not because of any irrigation problems. Two weeks ago Alex Levin, viticulturist from Oregon State University came to inspect. These plants were killed by crown gall most likely brought on by the extreme cold of the past winter. Injuries to the graft union of the grape vine caused by freezing and cracking most likely gave the bacteria that cause crown gall an opening to penetrate the vine. Younger vines are especially susceptible. Crown gall effectively strangles the plant preventing uptake of nutrients. Plans are to do a thorough survey of the Malbec block to identify all affected vines.

Malbec vine killed by crown gall

Layout has begun on a 2-acre Pinot noir and Chardonnay vineyard on a steep north-facing slope. Planting is scheduled for 2019. There is a lot that goes into developing a vineyard--layout, irrigation decisions, installation of stakes, end-posts, and trellis wires. It's not too early to start!

Kevin Breck pounding in 1 of 600 line stakes. Smoke in background.

The 2015 reds and 2016 whites have been bottled and are now resting. From the summer bottling we have released our first estate wine, a beautiful off-dry 2016 Tempranillo Rosé. We used the saignée method for making the rosé and are very excited about having it available in our tasting room. Thanks to Kevin Breck for including us in his Medford Mail Tribune EnoFile article on summer rosés. Come give it a try! 

We were blessed to receive four medals at the recent Oregon Wine Experience competition, a Double Gold for our 2012 "Blessed" Merlot, and Silvers for our 2015 "Homeward" Chardonnay, 2014 "Freedom" Pinot noir and 2012 "Shepherd" Syrah. Many thanks to Steelhead Run and Stand Sure vineyards, and Pallet Wine Company! 

On the farm, the chickens are doing well considering many 100F days and lots of forest fire smoke. They got a bit excited during the near total eclipse we had and made lots of strange noises. Egg production is still strong, but not quite like spring time. The summer garden has been bountiful and we now are offering beautiful onions in the farm stand.

Organically grown red onions now available!



Time Posted: Aug 26, 2017 at 3:32 PM
Greg Schultz
June 18, 2017 | Greg Schultz

Lost and Found


Schultz Glory Oaks

Looking southwest across our vineyard.  Photo by Kellie Halstead

It drives me crazy to lose something. I will go to great lengths to re-trace my steps, look in every possible place, open every drawer. Admittedly, this is after my first try of "Honey, have you seen my...?" This is why I am so excited that I found my hammer. In 2014 we installed three acres of vineyard trellising by hand. Our tools consisted of a post pounder, gloves, ear plugs, mouth guard, tape measure, 100' of wire, and a hammer. Each day we would mark out rows, pound in line stakes, and tap in pencil rods. At the end of each day we would gather our tools and take them to the garage. Then one day my hammer turned up missing. I remembered putting it down beside a recently installed line stake. How hard could it be for me to find it? Apparently quite hard. Days went by. I started to think that maybe I left it somewhere else. Years went by. Whenever we had anyone helping us in the vineyard, I'd tell them to be on the lookout for my hammer. Last week I mowed the part of the vineyard that the sheep had been in (see last month's blog). I was going slowly along the trellis of row 90, and something caught my eye near a line stake. Could it be? I hopped off the mower, pushed a little grass aside, and there it was--my hammer! I'm going to clean it up, and I paint the handle bright orange! 

My hammer--three years later

The sheep left us on May 20th after spending seven weeks mowing our vineyard grass and fertilizing next year's vines. We enjoyed their stay and were sorry to see them go but there were a few problems. I naively assumed the sheep would honor the rows and trellis wires and move with them, not against them. No. The lowest wire where the irrigation tubing hangs is a perfect height for a shedding sheep to rub and scratch off their winter coats. Thankfully, we had them isolated to the east end of the vineyard where we have infrastructure installed but no vines yet. I spent eight hours repairing the broken irrigation lines and one broken trellis wire. No big deal really, and a further plus, there is enough wool in the vineyard to knit a sweater or two.

The same day the sheep left, the Boer goats arrived. Ern Russell of Hungry Goats for Hire brought out 23 adults and one kid. We knew better than to let goats in the vineyard because they eat nearly everything. Our goal with them is to have them eat our invasive blackberries, teasel, and weeds from elsewhere on the farm. They are doing a great job and are fun to watch. As with the sheep, our main responsibility is feeding the guard dogs. Ern brought Meg and Zeus, two Maremma Sheepdogs to watch over the goats. Great dogs!

Goats and Meg

We finished thinning the Tempranillo and Malbec just in time to begin shoot positioning. Overall the vines look healthy, but have a bit of late season frost damage, and a few Malbec vines are mysteriously dying.  I'm going to increase the watering in the Malbec block to rule out that as a potential issue. According to Ewe Meier's grapevine growth stage chart, our vines are in Principal growth stage 6: Flowering. As with the earlier budbreak, the Malbec vines are about one week ahead of the Tempranillo. It will be interesting to see if this holds true for the season. The history of Tempranillo, and in fact its very name, is based on it being an early-ripening varietal. We shall see.

3rd leaf Malbec flowering 

We have been steadily working to get the vineyard ready for the arrival of total of 1,700 Viognier and Petit Verdot vines. We expected them from the nursery two weeks ago but were told that the required regulatory testing for getting plants from California into Oregon was taking longer than normal. Agricultural areas are very careful to not move diseases and pests around, hence a lot of testing and verification required. With the extra time we should be ready. And in any case, we have more irrigation repairs to make.

Vineyard ready for new planting


Our 2017 bottling is expected to begin next week. First we'll bottle Chardonnay and Pinot gris, and our very first estate wine: our 2016 Tempranillo Rosé--yay! A bit later, we'll bottle our 2015 Merlot and Syrah. The 2016 reds have another year to age in the barrel and are smelling and tasting great.

One day closer...

Time Posted: Jun 18, 2017 at 1:15 PM
Greg Schultz
May 5, 2017 | Greg Schultz

Spring, Solar, and Sheep

We had our first taste of spring in southern Oregon this week. The crimson clover and winter rye grass we seeded last fall as vineyard floor cover crops have come alive with bees and lady bugs.

A carpet of crimson clover covers the vineyard

Late last week both our 3rd leaf Malbec and 4th leaf Tempranillo vines had bud break, 2½ weeks later than last year due to our long, cold, and wet winter. It's great to see the vines come out of dormancy! We've had a few frosty mornings with more predicted, but so far we have not seen any damage. With temperatures this week in the 80s, new growth is vigorous.

3rd leaf Malbec in bud break

Pruning and taping our 4,000 vines began on February 27th and was completed on April 6th. It was a team effort with 250 hours worked, just under 4 minutes per vine. We got lots of great help from Anne and Nancy and especially from Kevin who is wrapping up his viticulture/enology degree from Umpqua Community College. Pruning is fun and lots of good exercise!

Debbie taping pruned vines with help from the chickens

We continue to look for ways to be more sustainable and better stewards of the land. On April 3rd, Marilyn Hahn delivered 26 ewes and 2 lambs. This is a rental arangement whereby we host the sheep by providing them pasture to graze, and fresh water. They provide almost continuous mowing service and frequent fertilization to our vineyard. Oh and we do have one more responsibility--to feed the beautiful Akbash guard dog Blitz who lives with and protects the sheep from predators.  

Vineyard sheep heading into Glory Oaks Vineyard for the first time

We are now solar powered! On April 24th, TrueSouth Solar out of Ashland, OR completed the installation of our 11.772 kW solar system. There are 36 Sun Power modules in two arrays providing about 70% of our annual electricity needs. During the recent sunny days we sent more electricity out to the power grid than we consumed. It's fun to watch the power meter spin backwards!

One grid of panels faces just south of east capturing the morning sun

We have just received government approval for our new Rosé label designed by John Hiemenz. We are now working with the printer on final details in anticipation of bottling our 2016 whites and rosé in June and our 2015 reds in July. One day closer to our first estate wine!

Time Posted: May 5, 2017 at 12:59 PM
Greg Schultz
March 4, 2017 | Greg Schultz

Is a vineyard a monoculture?

I have vivid mental images of vineyard scenes of the past: row after row in expansive fields of grapevines on top of bare dirt. I don't know if I actually visited such a vineyard or if I am remembering scenes from movies or photos in wine magazines. Our vineyard does not look like that, nor do any others with which I am currently familiar.

I just finished reading a book by Joel Salatin, one of my favorite sustainable agriculture authors. Joel is witty, knowledgeable, and unconventional. He has a beautiful farm in Virginia that he calls Polyface. I have read 5 or 6 of his books, some more than once, in my thirst for understanding how to be a good farmer. In a chapter on biodiversity, Joel writes about the common agricultural practice of planting huge acreages of one crop and the problems that can result because of the loss of symbiotic relationships that plants, animals, and insects have with each other. Monocultures are more susceptible to disease and pest pressures because the natural defense mechanisms are limited.

Debbie and I got out pen and paper one night after dinner and a glass or two of wine and brainstormed. Our vineyard is small enough that we don't meet the "expansive" size parameter typically assigned to a monoculture. But by planting a single crop of grapes in straight rows did we create a mini-monoculture that lacks natural diversity? From memory, we listed all the plants and animals that we have seen inside our 6 acre vineyard fence since we planted 3 years ago. Debbie added to the list several days later as more came to mind. I am pleased that we have a very diverse population of animals, flowers, grasses, weeds, insects, pollinators, and worms to help keep our vineyard healthy.

2016 view of healthy alleyway between rows

If you are interested in the list, I have tabulated it below. There are probably more that we can add to in the future.

Grapes Chicory Slugs
Bumble bees Butterflies Moths
Crimson clover Milkweed Purple dead nettle
White clover Common teasel Broadleaf plantain
Red clover Bittercress Bunch grass
Doves foot geranium Dandelion Gophers
Yellow star thistle Ground squirrels Rabbits
Spotted spurge Blackberry Raccoons
Curly dock Chickens Common mallow
Rye grass Hawks Prickly leaf lettuce
Bobcats Corn speedwell Queen Anne's lace
Skunks Burr chervil Lupine
Birds Ladybugs Praying mantis
Lambsquarter Moth mullein Squash bugs
Purslane Common mullein Earwigs
Pigweed Turkey mullein Tomato horn worms
False dandelion Bull thistle Earthworms
Common groundsel Canada thistle Wasps
Honey bees Coyotes Oak treelings
Spiders ... ...

Elsewhere on the farm and in the vineyard...

We started pruning our 3rd-leaf Malbec on February 27th beginning with row 68 and working backwards toward the tasting room. It takes us 4 man-hours per row to prune and tape. We love doing it and it's great exercise. Just for fun we prune one 4th leaf Tempranillo vine on our way back to the garage.  These vines are really starting to take on the mature shape of an older vine with 1-2 cordons and 10-12 two-bud spurs.


Raymond West from Mountain Creek Excavation helped us repair the driveway that blew out following 13 inches of snow and 12 inches of rain a week later.  It's nice to have our driveway back.

Raymond West working on culvert

With the longer days, our 8 hens have stepped up egg production. Our best day so far has been 7 eggs. They are beautiful and taste great. Fiercely protected by Rudy the rooster, our small flock is doing great work on vineyard weeds and bugs, and are a hoot (or crow!) to watch.

One dozen fresh vineyard eggs ready for market

All of our 2015 and 2016 wines that are still in barrel are progressing nicely. For our February wine club release we pulled a barrel sample of our 2016 Rosé of Tempranillo and offered tastes to anyone interested.

Rosé barrel sample

It was delicious and we are... day closer to our first estate wine!

Time Posted: Mar 4, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Greg Schultz
January 24, 2017 | Greg Schultz

Weather or Not

In 2013, we were awaiting our first delivery of grapevines. We have never been weather geeks, but with 2,000 vines on order, we became very interested in temperature patterns and rainfall amounts. Having lived on the Gulf Coast for 30 years, we were very familiar with what too MUCH rain looks like, but had no idea what too LITTLE looks like. Turns out 2013 was even drier than normal (driest ever, in fact) with about 12 inches of rain falling in southern Oregon for the entire year. We were in a drought! 

2016 was a more normal weather year with talk about La Niña floating around for 2017. What's that? La Niña means there is a good chance that we will be colder and wetter based on what's going on in the Pacific. Rains started in October causing us to postpone a road building project until springtime. There have been some rain-free periods though when we could get out on the farm and get some needed work done. We have removed some fences in preparation for a new vineyard block (future) and have removed blackberries from the creek side and pasture. With Greg cutting and Debbie raking and burning we have made good progress on the blackberries. Good things to do while the vines are dormant.

Greg attacking a mountain of blackberries in the pasture


The real excitement weather-wise has been in the past 4 weeks. Starting in mid-December, one Pacific storm after another has rolled in. 5 inches of rain fell in the last half of December. On January 2nd and 3rd, we received 13 inches of snow. This was wet, heavy snow, the kind that brings down trees and power lines. We were without power, heat, and water for 2 1/2 days with temperatures dropping as low as 11º F one night. When the power was restored on the third day, I can't begin to describe how thankful we were. More fun to come though...

4 inches of rain on 12/14/16 prompted Debbie to remove debris from our creek

Late afternoon view of the vineyard as the snow started piling up

With a foot of snow in the valleys and more on the mountains, heavy rains returned. In the past 2 weeks, 11 more inches of rain have fallen, washing the snow away as well as some roads and hillsides. So much gravel came down our roadside, that our drainage line which runs under the vineyard plugged and blew out. A geyser is not something you expect to see in a vineyard. Tom Fay from Fay Irrigation has come out to look at it, but we can't fix anything until the water flow subsides. So in the meantime we have a new stream running through the vineyard and across our driveway.

Several days after the blowout water still is boiling up in the vineyard

Looking Forward

We have not yet started our pruning but many local vineyards have. For planting this summer, we are in discussions with NovaVine in Santa Rosa regarding rootstock and plant availability. We are working on a long-term plan that includes 1,000 Cabernet Franc vines this year. The weather has not seemed to phase our chickens as in the last few weeks the hens have started laying. And the 2016 wines are all progressing as expected in the winery. One day closer to our first estate wine!

The hens have started laying these beautiful colored eggs

Time Posted: Jan 24, 2017 at 9:40 AM