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...

...one 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

Success!

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
Greg Schultz
 
December 1, 2016 | Greg Schultz

After the Harvest

We harvested nearly 6 tons of Tempranillo fruit on a Monday. A big rain was expected that Thursday. We had two days to get our first cover crop in before it got too wet in the vineyard. The previous week we had purchased 150 pounds of crimson clover seed and 150 pounds of winter rye grass seed from Oregon Vineyard Supply. Sowing these seeds produces two benefits--erosion control and nitrogen fixation. Erosion control preserves and protects the soil during Oregon's rainy season; nitrogen fixation restores the soil fertility that the grape harvest removes.It took us two days to mow all of the existing grasses in the vineyard rows and spread the seeds.

Getting ready to spread crimson clover seed

One of the highlights of post-harvest days is the Applegate Valley Wine Trail Fall UnCorked event. This year the region's 17 wineries hosted 600+ tasters on a self-paced and self-guided tour. Each participating winery poured two wines and offered complimentary food pairings. We teamed up with Quality Catering of Medford to serve our 2011 Syrah with focacia bread sausage pizza and our 2012 Viognier with spiced pumpkin bread. Debbie and Nancy served tasters who wanted to buy wines while Greg orchestrated parking involving cars, trucks, vans, buses, and limosines and visited with the tasters. It was a great event! We utilized our hay barn as the starting point for Syrah and pizza. It was a cool and rainy afternoon and we noticed that the roof gutters on the barn did not drain well and the ground got a bit wet. The day after the event, we got on our 20 ft extension ladder to investigate...

Barn gutter full of acorns--busy woodpeckers!

In my August 2016 blog I introduced you to our eleven chicks that had just arrived via the US Postal Service. We are very protective of them and it has been entertaining to watch them grow. They are great rototillers and just recently spent two weeks clearing the grasses and weeds from our garden site. Now their chicken tractor has been moved to the vineyard where they are allowed to venture out one hour each afternoon. The rest of the day they spend in their coop and the protected area immediately under it. They are happy and healthy and are helping in the vineyard by mowing and fertilizing!

Chickens foraging on some of the new clover and rye grass sprouts

Our four-month-olds aren't producing any eggs yet, but we are one day closer to a farm-fresh omelet...

 

Time Posted: Dec 1, 2016 at 3:27 PM
Greg Schultz
 
October 16, 2016 | Greg Schultz

First Harvest

READY

Vines loaded with ripe Tempranillo clusters

During the past 2 weeks the weather has been perfect for grapes. The cool fall days allowed us to let our fruit hang on the vine until the flavors caught up with the sugars and acids--balance!

SET

Fruit bins out in the vineyard ready for harvest

On October 6th, I took a 75-berry random sample into Pallet Wine Company for analysis and for our winemaker Linda Donovan to taste. The berries were big and dark, the sugar was 24%, the pH 3.5, and the taste just about ideal. Just a little more time needed on the vine. With the Pacific Northwest's first big storm of the season predicted the following week, I knew that I wanted to harvest before the rains came. So did everyone else. Finding pickers might be an issue. Greg Paneitz, winemaker and co-owner of Wooldridge Creek Winery and Vineyard across the street from us, lined us up with a picking crew for Monday, October 10th. Perfect! I put 5 of our 6 bins out in the vineyard Sunday afternoon. With 3rd leaf vines and our first harvest, I didn't think we needed all of our bins, but we had one extra just in case.

GO

Ashley Myers from the Vine Restaurant in Grants Pass was a big help!

The first pickers arrived at 7 a.m. and all was going great. The foreman moved a few bins around and the picking began. Soon I was asked if I had any more bins. "Sure, there's one more in the barn"--I beamed. "You're going to need more than that!"--I frowned. What? I thought I had more than enough. Whoops! I got on the phone and called vineyards up and down our street looking for more. "Sorry, we're picking today too". Greg Paneitz at Wooldridge came to the rescue. We filled 15 bins--nearly 6 tons, 6 pounds of fruit per vine!

Hauling one of many bucket loads of grapes to an awaiting bin

Six tons of fruit will ultimately yield 400 cases of wine. That's more than we need right now, so what to do? Wooldridge Creek Winery has a substantial position in the bulk wine business selling Oregon wines throughout the country. We left 1/3 of our harvest with them to be blended with other varietals into a high quality red blend. The remaining 4+ tons of our harvest we brought to Pallet Wine Company to make into our own wines. We had already decided that we would make some of our Tempranillo into a Rosé wine if we harvested enough--boy did we! So, using the saignee process 3 barrels were filled for Rosé, with the remaining being fermented for a bold red 2016 Tempranillo. After getting over the initial shock, we are as excited as we can be! We are looking forward to 75 cases of 2016 Rose´ and 200 cases of 2016 red.

And we are one day closer to our first estate wine...

Time Posted: Oct 16, 2016 at 1:20 PM
Greg Schultz
 
September 15, 2016 | Greg Schultz

Entering 4th Quarter of First Harvest

 

In The Vineyard

About two weeks ago, we actually caught up! Ever since March, I felt like we were behind--behind on pruning, then behind on suckering, then shoot thinning, followed by leaf pulling. The last thing to do with our Tempranillo block was to drop fruit, and we were behind on that. The vines have way too many grape clusters on them than they can uniformly ripen--especially on young vines like ours. So a lot are cut off and dropped to the ground. It's sort of sad, actually. The vines have carried and grown these clusters all season and then we come along and just cut half of them off. But, I guess it's like the plane that is carrying too much weight in luggage. If some isn't removed, the take-off will be ugly. In hindsight as we watch the remaining clusters grow and ripen, we know it was the right thing to do. The fruit is big and dark and the sugar is accumulating. The most recent sample was 21.8 Brix (% sugar) with a target of 24 Brix. Probably 1-2 more weeks until ready for harvest!

A refractometer is used to measure sugar in berry juice

In my blog of April 24, 2016 I talked about having our vineyard 3rd party certified according to LIVE standards. For vineyards new to the program it's a 2-year process. Rebecca Sweet, an experienced viticulturist and LIVE inspector from the Willamette Valley came to our farm on August 11th for our first evaluation. We did well, but have some things to work on in order to become certified next year. The LIVE checklist assigns points for good (green), better (yellow), and best (red) practices for the vineyard and the entire farm ecosystem. We have met the green and yellow practice requirements, but need 5 more of the red practices in order to be certified. We have a lot of work to do, but aim to get certified by the end of 2017.

Debbie Tollefson is the wine writer for The Applegater, our local newsmagazine. In the Fall 2016 issue she covered the topic of terroir and included us as one of her example vineyards. Read about it here. Thanks, Debbie!

On The Farm

With the shorter days and cooler nights we are just starting to see some leaves on the trees starting to turn colors. We have harvested a beautiful crop of garlic and have it for sale in the tasting room / farmstand.  We have eaten and given away a lot of pears from our small orchard this season--delicious. We've spotted a cow elk several mornings--a big girl indeed! And now the apples are starting to ripen. We've also noticed that any fruit that falls on the ground and is not picked up is gone the next morning.

Two bucks caught on Stealth Cam helping themselves in the orchard

Our eleven chickens have graduated from the brooder to the coop and are now gaining confidence as they are allowed to forage around on the ground under the coop. We had one escape one day and it must have been quite a sight to see two adults chasing a month-old chicken around the yard. We finally coralled the little Houdini and all is well.

At 6 weeks old the chicks have quadrupled in size

At The Winery (Pallet Wine Company)

The 2016 harvest began for us on September 2nd with 2.5 tons of Pinot noir fruit coming in from the Pearl Family Vineyard on the Applegate River in Wilderville, Oregon. Since then, Chardonnay and Pinot gris from the Steelhead Run Vineyard have also been harvested and delivered to the winery. More to come, including our own estate Tempranillo as we are...

One day closer to our first harvest!

Time Posted: Sep 15, 2016 at 4:50 PM
Greg Schultz
 
August 1, 2016 | Greg Schultz

Raising the Wires

 

 

Wildflowers in front of vineyard truck

Photo by Leslie Bloss

In 2001, Uwe Meier categorized the growth stages of a grapevine and its fruit. There are nine principal growth stages, each subdivided into intermediate steps. Step 00 represents winter dormancy; step 99 is after harvest and leaf fall. During the growing season, each vine moves through these steps. Our Tempranillo vines were at bud break (step 08) on April 9th. As of August 1st we were just starting to see a few berries beginning to develop a little color (step 81). Veraison is the French term for describing berry color development and softening. We are not quite there but are getting close.  

A little color starting to develop on a Tempranillo cluster

About 99% of our vines are not quite as far along as the one pictured above--probably step 77 where the berries are green, but are enlarging and are beginning to touch. To encourage further development, we have been actively managing the vines. We've had a lot of help from Kevin Breck who is a student in the Umpqua Community College's viticulture and enology program. Kevin is making a career change (something we are quite familiar with), and we are very happy to have his help one day each week! In the past month, we have completed the thinning process whereby we remove every other shoot so as to give the remaining ones more energy for development. We have raised all of the catch wires to their highest levels and tucked the shoots between the wires so as to facilitate sunlight penetration and air movement. And just today, we started leaf pulling.

Debbie pulling leaves from east side of clusters

Leaves are manually pulled from the east side of vines to give the berries the ripening benefit of the morning sun. Grape leaves are quite large, and if left in place, shade the clusters which would delay or inhibit ripening. Generally, the leaves are left on the west side to prevent sunburn from the hot afternoon sun. Sometimes, these too are pulled if more air movement and spray penetration is needed to prevent mold and mildew formation. At this time, we don't think we need to pull the west-facing leaves.

Berries are ripe for harvest when they reach step 89. Since this is our first harvest, we don't know when this will be--maybe about 6 more weeks. Experienced growers in our area are expecting another early harvest, but not as early as last year. I think we had 20+ days last summer above 100° in our valley; this year there have been very few, and at our site, zero. We hit 99° a few days ago, but it is noticeably cooler than last year. This is good for the grapes as it extends and slows the growing season a bit and doesn't stress them too much.

In addition to Kevin, we have some more new team members...

Eleven chicks arrived this week via the US Postal Service

Chickens are great additions to any vineyard. They spend all day scratching around, eating bugs, and fertilizing. They are an important part of our sustainable farm program. And their eggs are fabulous!

One day closer to a harvest...

Time Posted: Aug 1, 2016 at 2:21 PM
Greg Schultz
 
June 26, 2016 | Greg Schultz

Thinning and Tucking

 

One of Glory Oaks Vineyard's Namesake Trees

The photo above was taken late one recent afternoon. Our Tempranillo block is to the left of the white oak tree, with the Malbec behind and to the right.  Warm temperatures have brought on rapid early season growth. The Malbec vines are in their second growing season, are healthy, and are doing well. They don't require too much attention right now. Third-leaf Tempranillo is quite another story.

Grape vines grow fast! The vine sustains itself by putting out multiple shoots which can be very long and gangly. This is good for the vine, but not necessarily good for high quality wine grapes nor for the farmer. These long shoots need to be thinned and tucked throughout the growing season. Thinning is the process of going through each vine and removing the extra shoots so as to give the remaining ones greater and more even access to the available sunlight. If not done, the vine becomes a tangled mess and the fruit quality suffers. Sometimes birds take refuge and build nests. :}

Tiny Bird Nest Nestled in Tempranillo Vine

Preferrably, thinning comes just before tucking. Out of necessity, though, sometimes the order has to be reversed. To make farming a vineyard a bit easier (and to provide for even sun distribution to the plants), grape vines are normally trained to grow upright and are held in place by trellis wires. Left to their own, though, these long shoots most likely would end up growing out and down to the ground where a tractor running between the rows would run over them. So tucking involves manually weaving the shoots up through the wires to make a clean, neat canopy. The grapes like this and so do the farmers! As the shoots continue to grow upwards, the trellis wires are moved up to catch them. At long last, the wires are as high as they can go, and the vines are still growing so they must be hedged--a likely topic for next month's blog.

Early Morning Photo of Thinned and Tucked Vines

One day closer to a harvest...

Time Posted: Jun 26, 2016 at 6:52 AM
Greg Schultz
 
May 21, 2016 | Greg Schultz

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

There's lots to cheer about this month. There have also been a few problems...

The Good

Two significant "firsts" occurred this month. The first first was the initiation of a spraying program for our 3rd leaf Tempranillo vines. Last month's blog was largely about certifying our vineyard according to LIVE standards (Low Impact Viticulture and Enology) while leaning toward organic methods. Grapes and grapevines are susceptible to various fungi and mildew. An effective spray program protects the developing plant and fruit. We have now had our first 3 sprays, all on the LIVE list and approved for organic foods.

The second first occured on Sunday, May 22nd as we participated in our first UnCorked event--a winetaster's dream-come-true featuring the Applegate Valley vineyards and wineries. For $49, a taster was treated to a self-guided driving tour of 16 venues each featuring two wines and bites designed to thrill. We paired our 2012 Mission Viognier with crustless spinach quiche and our 2011 Shepherd Syrah with parmesan-topped mushrooms stuffed with spicy sausage, prepared and served by Quality Catering of Medford. Yum!!! Nearly 500 tasters participated, with a majority visiting us.

The Bad

About two weeks after bud break, a significant frost hit our valley. Some vineyards were hit hard, others not at all. We suffered some damage to our tender plants. It's hard to determine the eventual impact of this event. Most damage on our vines was on the lower shoots--the ones that we were going to remove anyway as part of our suckering program. Still, some shoots higher on the vines were killed. We removed as many of these as we could and are hopeful that the secondary shoots will survive and produce fruit.

May 5th Photo of Frost Damaged Shoots

The Ugly

We are very thankful for the rainy/snowy winter in southern Oregon which did much to relieve the ongoing drought we have been experiencing. We learned a lot about our vineyard because of the healthy levels of groundwater. We learned that certain areas drain quickly, others stay wet longer. In April the grassy areas in the vineyard really started to grow. We made several attempts to mow it, each time ending in frustration as the mower got stuck and we had to pull it out with a winch attached to the Gator. Finally, by May 1st, we were able to mow 93 of our 103 rows, but there were 10 rows still with standing water. These rows are dedicated to future expansion (e.g. no vines there today), so my theory is that with vines in the ground sucking up the groundwater, we will not have as big an issue in the future. I very well may be wrong though, that's why it's a theory! :) Finally, on May 16th, I was able to make my way through the last ten rows--but it was indeed ugly.

May 16 Mowing the Last 10 Rows of Grass 6 Feet Tall

Exciting times in the vineyard, and we are one day closer to a harvest...

Time Posted: May 21, 2016 at 4:54 PM