66 tons harvested in one day • 260 tons harvested so far • 320 tons expected left to harvest
This blog post is brought to you through the generous support of the sleep depriving, physically challenging, and delirium inducing 2017 harvest. I am pleased to report that we are experiencing a bumper crop with most varietals, like Muscat, having both record yields and superior quality (the origin of the term “Bumper Crop” originates from an overfilled glass of wine called a “Bumper” – how appropriate!). This Yield vs. Quality debate is one of the hot topics of discussion currently raging in viticulture symposia and journals. My personal observation is that we are oversimplifying this issue looking for a silver bullet ratio of yield to quality rather than recognize the complex interrelationship between the plant and it’s environment. This increased yield with commensurate high quality was undoubtedly induced by the adequate rainfall of this past winter. However, it was not observed in all blocks, and not to brag, but most often not observed in blocks outside the Wilson Creek estate. So what is the difference? I postulate that the soil and nutrient building activities of our Biologically-Based Soil Fertility Program has been building a reservoir of available nutrients. These nutrients became mobile through the action of bacteria, micro-fauna, and fungi with the soil-soaking rains which allowed the nutrients to become mobile. Synthetic fertilizers are water soluble so are generally washed away with the rain.
When we harvest a block of grapes the first thing we do is give that block a celebratory long drink (water) to help it recover from the shock of suddenly becoming empty nesters. Then I start what I consider to be the most important fertilization program of the year, post-harvest fertility. Grapes produce the cells of the next year’s harvest right after the fruit set of this year, so next year’s harvest potential is already set. Once the children have left the house, the two major goals are to support the immediate upcoming generation and to set robust roots with a healthy fungal symbiotic relationship for future generations.
In my last blog post in August, “The Problem Child“, I discussed the analogy of Block 14, Mourvèdre, my personal problem child, and the continuing analogy here is obvious. Once the children have left the vine (nest), have a good long drink and get down to the business of providing for future generations. This is our work in the vineyard, beyond producing quality wines, to further a system of agriculture that doesn’t steal from future generations but rather leaves this bountiful earth richer than we found it and knowing this makes my glass of Mourvèdre taste all the richer.
From all of us in the winemaking team we wish you a bountiful autumn and
success and prosperity to all of our children.
~ Greg Pennyroyal (Vineyard Manager)