Early Summer, 2009 at Arroyo Robles Vineyard

It’s dry - but good balanced growth throughout the vineyard is a great improvement from last year’s difficult spring weather. We’re approximately halfway through the vineyard with shoot thinning and should finish a week ahead of last year. It has been great weather – high 80’s / low 90’s during the day and mid-40’s at night for most of the bloom set. Major problem this year is the healthy crop of squirrels. We’re going to try bubblegum next – heard about this guaranteed trick from Frankie Matia of the Basque Café.
Stay tuned – things are growing fine in 2009.

Early Spring 2009

January was dry with freezing nights and sunny days. It was tough on the bugs and the fingers but gave the vines a good chill into complete dormancy. We started pre- pruning late January and completed first pass before the rains in February. Wires are being lowered and we’ll complete the second and final pruning pass by early-March.

Join us for Wine Tasting 101b – Pruning on February 28th for a great breakfast & pruning class at our vineyard. The February rains have almost caught us up to normal. The cover crop is well established and the salts are leaching down. But we’re only at ~60% of a total average year of rain and still need more rain to recharge the aquifers. The buds are swelling and it looks like a good start for 2009.

2008 Crush Recap

Nov. 4 - looking back at the 2008 Harvest, it will be remembered as an extremely light crop with some excellent quality in the the balanced vineyards. It was a tough year in the vineyard-higher costs, trying to balance the the fruit and canopy after a cold spring shattered fruit and delayed canopies - along with drastically reduced yields and vineyard revenue - down to 40 - 60%

Our last harvest was October 29th. 2008 ended up with 25 separate harvests of 13 varietals totaling 76 tons. Between September 2nd and October 29th there were 17 days of harvesting with 13 varietals from 6 vineyards. 44% of the wine grapes came from our estate vineyard. The 2008 harvest by varietal tons are as follows.

Mouvedre 3.9 , Viognier 3.2, Zinfandel 2.8, Tannat 1.0, Cabernet Franc 0.6, Petite Sirah 04, Syrah 22.7, Cabernet Sauvignon 10.5, Merlot 7.6, Grenache 5.9, Tempranillo 4.1, Sangiovese 3.3, Chardonnay 10.9

75.9 tons total

All the major varietals have good color and flavors. We're excited about the increased volumes of Grenache and Sangiovese. We wre disappointed in the low volumes of Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Mourvedre and Viognier - but their quality was good.

We will press the Mourvedre and the last Cabernet Sauvignon this week. The horizontal oak barrel fermentation has worked well and will be reported on later.

Time to catch up on some sleep. Join us for an upcoming winemaker's dinner for more discussion of the 2008 Crush.

2008 mid-Crush Report

It's October 1st and we have the early ~30 tons of fruit harvested, fermented and
pressed off into barrels.
This includes 3.5 tons of Zinfandel, 20 + tons of Syrah and 3 tons of Viognier.
There's also 3+ tons of Merlot that came in yesterday that's soaking up some color.
So far, great flavors and color intensity. The partial fermentation in oak barrels
is working good and the fruit still on the vines are looking good
with good sugar/acid balance and good weather for great hang time.

2008 Crush
Sept. 2 was our first harvest this year. We brought in 2 tons of Zinfandel from Eidenmiller's vineyard just west of our estate vineyard - 28 degrees brix!
The 2008 crush has started. We've scheduled 20 separate harvests of 12 varietals totaling 100 tons. Stay tuned.

2008 Preharvest - out-standing in the vineyard
Late August in the vineyard is an orchestrated peace at sunrise and sunset. During the day, the filled-out canopies are busy making the sugars and and during the night when it cools, the solids and flavors are extracted from the skins. Like last year, 2008 has not seen extreme hot spells or extreme cold spells, but consistently 50 to 60 degrees F diurnal temperature differentials, which make Paso WInes intense and distinct. All of the shoot thinning, fruit balancing and 85%-90% veraison green harvest are done. The sugars are moving and we're just waiting for the seeds to darken with a nutty taste and the flavors to peak. Our first harvest will be Sept. 2. Hope to see you in September.

2008 Early Summer in the Vineyard
The Syrah has got off to a great start - full canopies, fruit set was early, consistant and long clusters. Some delays occurred in the Tempranillo and others due to a short cold spell in the Spring but nice temperatures in the 80’s in May and 90’s in early-June are filling in the canopies and finishing fruit set. 16 acres have been shoot-thinned and the balance will be by mid-June. The cover crops have been mowed down and in-row weed hoeing has commenced – this will be constant maintenance for the organic blocks. The wild radishes and turnips provided great beneficial blooms, deep roots(2`+) and great organic matter to incorporate into the soil. We’ve applied some foliar micronutrients, beneficial bacteria, paraffin oil, garlic oil and citric acid. We’re watching the leave hoppers and have our Chrysanthemum oil ready to go when the time is right.

In their spare time, Oscar and Bob have built an “Arroyo Luncha” amongst the oak trees near the barn. It’s a great place for when you have it made in the shade or for playing a game of “rock ‘n roll”*.

* - rock ‘ roll is played with 5 rocks from the vineyard. One is flat( 4” in diameter) and it is pitched first. The other rocks are ~3” ~round and pitched 2 each by each competitor. Points are accumulated for closeness, touching or landing on top. Most points wins.

2008 Winter/Spring in the Vineyard
We received a much needed 10.4" of normal rainfall this winter. It recharged the aquifers, flushed out the salt build up near the roots and provided a good start for the vines in 2008. We also did not have any extreme cold spells this winter like last year (11 degrees F) - just the normal Paso Robles chill. The vineyard woke up budding starting in early March. By the end of March, the upper Syrah and Syrah Noir have 1"-2" of shoot growth, the lower Syrah, Grenache Noir & Cabernet Franc have a good bud break and the Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and Tannat are just budding. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre are still asleep as usual. The cover crop benefited from good and timely rain.

In the lower 10 acres we're taking organic, we planted the alternating cover crops. The rows that we threw the prunings in and later shredded we planted a mix of perennial ryegrass - cabo, fiji and kokomo - sounds like paradise! The other alternating rows were planted with a wildflower erosion mix of 15% wildflowers, 60% clovers, 10% Blando Brome, 10% Parabinga Medic and 5% Zorro fescue in addition to some wild radishes and turnips were added. We also planted the lower arroyo with the perennial ryegrass and wildflower/turnip mixes - so we have a lot blooming in the vineyard attracting only beneficial insects.

pasted-graphic-2Oscar Pacheco has joined us to help out in the vineyard. Oscar deftly cleared the weeds along the vine rows with our Weed Badger.