Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Well the heat is here! And we are at the start of our warm weather growing season. But these grapevines you have planted have not done too shabby during the early spring for the last 78 days. As you can see from the attached photo, we have several cane shoots in full leafy foliage with flower bud clusters as I am holding in my hand. These clusters will soon bloom into tiny flowers from which the fruit (grapes) will swell. I have attached a great photo montage from Michigan State University showing the stages of grapevine development. Check it out:
Next time we will be pruning down to one main shoot on each grapevine and putting on a growth tubes. I ended up purchasing the pink ones (Paris Hilton, you win), but more about that later. I should be receiving them next week, along with my "Gripple" tensioning tool! My neighbor, Mark Vernon, had the super crew from Vinescape plant last week with very interesting techniques to protect the grafted rootstocks. Each rootstock is protected by an empty milk carton, open on each end. Further, the planted rootstock is covered with sawdust inside the milk carton. Those guys really know what they are doing!
Trying to stay cool down in the vineyard,
Yes, this weekend almost every grapevine has budded with 1, 2, 3, 4, even 5 buds! I have attache a picture of one of the grafted shoots and there, opposite my finger, a third way up from the root stock graft is a big bud. There is also a smaller one on the base of the shoot below my finger.
As you can see in the picture, along my arm we have put in the main drip lines along each row. I am still plumbing away to get the entire watering system connected, so I don't have to water by hand much longer! So, I will keep you posted as things progress in the Spring. We will finish the watering system in a week or two. Then, the trellis wires are going in. And finally we have to have the discussion about "Grow Tubes"!! Should they be blue or pink!! And it is not a decision for Paris Hilton! Regards from the vineyard, John
As you can see in the picture, along my arm we have put in the main drip lines along each row. I am still plumbing away to get the entire watering system connected, so I don't have to water by hand much longer!
So, I will keep you posted as things progress in the Spring. We will finish the watering system in a week or two. Then, the trellis wires are going in. And finally we have to have the discussion about "Grow Tubes"!! Should they be blue or pink!! And it is not a decision for Paris Hilton!
Regards from the vineyard,
We left off with the question of what is a grapevine "clone". Sounds like something from "Dolly the Sheep" !! But "vegetative cloning" has been done for thousands of years. The earliest record of grafting is from China around 5,000 B.C by a diplomat's work on peach trees. The Romans were famous for their grafted olive trees.
Attributes - Good choice for diversification. Lowest yielding cab clone (60% of Clone 7 or 8). Best on high density spacing. Excellent wine quality. High skin to pulp ratio. Small to medium size, loose clusters, variable size berries
This is a really nice, high quality Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Its yield (the number and size of grapes) is less than other clones, but the wine it produces is superior. The #3309C rootstock needs good drainage and I think that with our slope we will have that. And although it is not the "La Cuesta" clone, this is a really high end grape used in very fine wines! Sounds good to me, so ... , this is what we bought and what you will be planting in 18 days!! My son, Scott & I will be picking up our vines on Friday, February 29th, fresh from the nursery !! They are already propagated little potted plants, that can be planted anytime of the year, so let's do it !!
Regards from down in the vineyard, John Sphar
We are working hard here at the vineyard. What struck me about this property when I first saw it, is that it had a perfect southwest exposure for maximum sunlight on a hillside ridge with a 10 degree slope. What was left of an old fruit orchard that had been on the land, was a few rotting stumps of apricots & other fruit trees here and there, but otherwise it has been in fallow, uncultivated, for 50+ years. The story we heard was that when the house was for sale and when the realtor showed it, the clients often never got out of the car, because the house was, shall we say "unsightly". Fortunately for us, there were no other buyers attracted to the potential of the property.
In fact, our soils analysis came back "normal", that is to say there was nothing to worry about. Although the calcium level is unusually high, probably from amendments from the orchard period, but there is no need to amend the soil. The deer fencing is almost completed and we are starting to build a rail road tie stairway down to the vineyard. And then the plan is to "weed-wack" the new crop of grass in mid to late February, depending on when the rain let up. My backyard neighbor, Brian, has offered to loan me his tractor to rototill the vineyard. After the soil is ready, we will put in the trellising and drip lines to be ready for planting. We will be sending out an e-Vite soon with all the particulars for the upcoming planting party!
From down in the (future) vineyard,
First of all, congratulations to all the Escondido Elementary School PTA auction winners who successfully bid on the Emery-Sphar Vineyard Planting Party. By your efforts, you have helped raise a $1,000 towards an auction total of over $60,000 for our children's school. We are really looking forward to a wonderful day of a little work, great food, conversations, music & celebration with you, our friends & family!
However, it was my college days, sippin' wine, looking at world maps & reading National Geographic with my buddy Al, that really caught me up in the enjoyment of wine! I took Vitaculture 101 - Intro. to Wine, from Professor Singleton at UC-Davis. Prof. Singleton had written our text and had introduced many innovations in fermentation techniques, although the only one I can remember was his idea about adding oak chips to the huge stainless steel tanks that the bulk winemakers use (actually, not so memorable!).
From down in the (future) vineyard,
As some of you know, we were able to buy a little land in the hills with a run down house that I will be spending the next 20 years remodeling. But here's the thing, we have a perfect south western exposed hillside for grapes and the only thing that is keeping me from putting in a vineyard is all the work & labor (which I should be putting into the house).
So far I have had my soil analyzed and I have too much calcium (possibly a natural geologic phenomenon of the clay around here), so we may have to add some other amendments. I am getting an amendment recommendation from my neighbor, who is with Ridge Winery, actually from his vineyard master. They are also going to recommend a particular varietal best suited for our soil, either Zinfandel or probably Cabernet Sauvignon and probably a clone of the "La Cuesta" Cabernet of Woodside, which I think Dr. Fogerty of Fogerty Winery developed.
Then I got this great idea to "out source" much of the labor as a fund raising item at our daughter's elementary school PTA auction! So, with a little creative packaging we have created an event!! Here is the copy for the auction listing:
This is for all those oenophiles out there. How cool is this? Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 1 for a phenomenal day all about wine from start to finish. BYOS (bring you own shovel!) and plant 8-10 grapevines each at the home vineyard of Kristen Emery and John Sphar. Follow up with a luncheon with Mark Vernon, COO of Ridge Vineyards and Winery, Ltd., for a discussion of wine and wine tasting. For families with young children, they will be entertained by John and Kristen's children. Even better, you'll receive a couple of bottles of the first vintage in about five years after the vines mature!
At any rate, we would love to have all our family & friends join us as well along with the hired help (20 auction winners). It should be a fun day and we hope you all can come. I'll send you details as we get closer to the date, but I gotta get back to diggin' fence posts!
I am switching from my e-mail blast to a blog format for the goings on at Young Oak Vineyards. I too can be like Arianna Huffington! View all my e-mail blasts, now blogs above. I have put the real date of publication within the blogs.
The warm growing season is upon us here in Los Altos Hills, CA, after our first heat wave of the 2008 hitting over a 100 degrees. Its a little cooler today with our typical morning fog kissing the coastal hills and a high today in the low 90's, helped by a gentle breeze. Hope all of you are healthy & well.
Regards from down in the vineyard,