Archive for the ‘vineyard’ Category

First Fruit

October 4, 2012

First Harvest: September 26, 2012

We tucked our Petit Manseng grapes safely into netting once verasion (ripening) began to keep it safe from birds. Last year the mockingbirds had a field day on the fruit, inviting in other birds from who knows where to ravage the grapes. I could see the clusters behind the netting but not very well. So it was a bit like Christmas when I removed the netting and saw beautiful, clean clusters of Petit Manseng fruit.

Picking Petit Manseng clusters

Rebecca and I harvested the gifts, enjoying the feel of the beautiful clusters in our hands. I left some small little clusters for the mockingbirds. All year they monitored the vineyard, made nests in the vines, and ate lots of insects. It seems fitting that they should have a little fruit, though Scott points out that they have more fruit than they can eat over in the compost pile of pressed grape skins. I still think they may enjoy hopping around in the vines and picking out a berry or two.

Close up of Petit Manseng fruit

Each vine yielded nearly 5 pounds of fruit, on two trunks with 4 or 5 shoots to the two canes along the fruiting wire. This is vertical shoot positioning (VSP) on canes. Our amazing vineyard consultant, Lucie Morton, showed us how to prune the vines in March for this French method. Lucie came out several times in the spring to demonstrate how to prune the canopy for the least amount of disease pressure. What we are looking for is balance in the vineyard with each vine taking up its space and not its neighbors. Openness in the canopy is important for light and air circulation.

Into the press!

Two of our Tasting Room pourers, Sarah C and Sarah T, as well as our family friend Mahaut from France helped me work among the vines this year as we attempted to get closer to the ideal balance among the vines. When the vineyard reflects this balance, it is lovely to behold. It is not a one time endeavor but, like most of life, it requires ongoing focus.



September 3, 2012

Its here!  And we’re live tweeting awesome instagram pix of all the action under @stinsonvineyard.

If you missed it, here’s a roundup of the past few weeks.

Dropping Ankida Ridge lugs off at Trump Winery

The mysterious Rockgarden Cellars Vinho Verde…

We call this one the Ankida Ridge Traveling Wine Road Show

R2D2 still going strong!  Pressing the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc

Two pumps are better than one

The Egg is alive!!  And also delicious

Taking a break for some Tailgatin’

The new press arrives!  Just in time to tear through the 2012 Chardonnay

Meeting of the presses.  Don’t worry we’ve placed R2D2 at Muse Vineyards for the rest of the season – we know they’ll be good to the little guy!

Inching Towards Harvest

August 8, 2012

Final leaf pulling on Petit Manseng vines

It’s that time of year again.. pre harvest. Our Petit Mansengs have undergone verasion and are starting to ripen, the bird netting is up, winery equipment and supplies are on order. Now all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope the weather holds. Some area wineries have already started harvesting for their sparkling wines so we’ll likely see the first of our whites in the next week or so.

Bird netting is up!

As if the imminence of an early harvest isn’t terrifying enough, we attended a pre-harvest class with microbe specialist Lisa Van de Water. Lisa runs Vinotec Napa, a testing and consultation lab, and refers to herself as “The Bad Wine Lady”. Our vineyard consultant Lucie Morton hosted a group of her clients to brush up on best fermentation and aging practices with Lisa. Many wine spoilers are hard to detect before it’s too late – and difficult harvest conditions can yield lots of undesirables if a winemaker’s not careful. Her number one rule of thumb? “Never trust a microbe”!

Learning to spot microbes

After going over various undesirable yeasts and bacteria, we took a look at a few of Lisa’s slides. Ok, so we can no longer ignore the fact that wine spoilers exist. Next step? Steaming the entire winery – barrels, tanks, drains, hoses. We want everything as clean as possible before harvest!

Grapes Gone Wild

June 5, 2012

The third year Petit Manseng vines have grown into a real vineyard in the past month! Of course this is completely normal, but we still weren’t expecting such a big difference between the 2nd and 3rd year (or “leaf”). They’re now cordon trained along wires and bearing so much fruit that we have to go through and cluster thin. Since Petit Manseng is a super vigorous grower, we’re leaf pulling the canopy a little bit to allow more air movement.

Here’s a look at the evolution of the past few months:

March 28th: Budbreak

May 9th: Flowers

May 23rd: Fruit Set

June 2nd: Leaf Pulling & Cluster Thinning

A Mockingbird has decided to nest in the canopy and is not too happy about her hiding spot being revealed..

Back in the Vineyard

March 21, 2012

Vineyard Pomeranian Dallas helps rough prune

Late winter and early spring is a busy time in the vineyard. As the weather warms up, buds on the vines begin to swell and the race is on! It can be a challenge to have everything pruned and ready to go by bud break, especially in a warm year like this one. Our vines are still very young and aren’t much trouble.  The 2011 plantings were pruned down to two or three buds for the sake of uniformity.  These will be interspersed with new plantings in April, so we’ve still got a few years until our grapes really come into their own.

Front row of pruned vines with unpruned vines in the background

Our little test block of Petit Manseng, however, was planted in 2010 and lovingly hand watered all summer. This year its ready to be trained along the cordon wire. The new shoots will grow straight up towards the top (catch) wires, in the Vertical Shoot Position (VSP) trellis system.  

Diagram of Vertical Shoot Positioning via