1 Late Winter - Pruning
The lifecycle of the vineyard begins when we prune all the vines by hand. This process of winter pruning allows our crew to carefully select the canes that are best suited to bear grapes for the coming vintage. We leave two to four fruiting canes per vine, plus two spurs: these will be the source of the next year’s fruiting canes.
2 Spring - Budbreak
In mid to late April, the vines begin to "push,” and budbreak occurs. During this delicate time, we are entirely at nature’s mercy, as any frost could damage the vulnerable buds. However, with our warmer vineyard site, frost has rarely been an issue.
3 Late Spring - Flowering
Flowering is another crucial period for the vineyard, during which wind, rain, and even cold weather can dislodge the fragile grape flowers growing on our vines. If a sizeable storm hits the vineyard during this time, we could lose most of the crop before the flowers begin to self-pollinate, or “set,” to form berries, resulting in a potentially very low yield.
4 Summer - Trellising
Trellising allows the sunlight to reach the fruit, enhancing the ripening process. It also increases the airflow to the grape clusters, allowing the wind to cool down the fruit in the evening hours, a crucial part of maintaining acidity in the vineyard. The increased airflow also helps keep disease in check, as mold and fungus prefer warm, still, moist air.
5 Summer - Fruit Thinning
By thinning the fruit, we reduce the crop load early in the growing season, allowing the plant to focus its energies on the remaining fruit. Vines with lighter crop loads tend to produce grapes with a more intense flavor, which in turn allows for increased flavor development. Since Oregon often receives generous rainfall in autumn, we reduce crop load dramatically in order to ensure ripening before the rains come.
6 Summer - Veraison
All varieties start green in color and through the process of veraison the grapes begin to change color. At this point, we can begin to speculate on any number of things, including the cluster weights, average yield per acre, and potential harvest date. Harvest generally occurs one month past veraison.
7 Summer - Maintenance
During the summer, we strive to find a light-handed equilibrium between what Mother Nature gives us, and what measures can take to ensure a top-notch harvest at the end of the growing season. These measures may include:
- Coordinating the strategic removal of leaves to expose the grapes to sun and beneficial airflow (canopy management);
- Irrigating in precise quantities in order to feed the plants the right amount of water at right time; and,
- Pursuing a meticulous regimen of cultivation, vine hedging, and any other beneficial fine-tuning of the green harvest based on crop estimates.
8 Fall - Harvest
As fall approaches we begin testing the fruit for physiological ripeness and flavor, then decide which sections are ready for harvesting. Factors considered include: Brix, pH and acidity, along with flavor development.
The grapes are hand-picked in the early morning hours before the autumn sun has a chance to warm the vineyard. Using small, sharp bypass pruners, the vineyard crew clips and places clusters into five gallon picking buckets, which are then loaded into bins and transported to the winery.