Rain, Rain, Go Away!! Come again in November!

What a spring this has been! As if time doesn’t fly by fast enough, we have to be tricked by Mother Nature?! It is so hard to believe that we are mid way through May already and yet to have any weather above 85. I do have to say, that it made for a much more enjoyable Zinfest with weather in the 80′s instead the 100′s. People actually talked about the wines and the vendors and not just the heat. That said…..it is time for this rain to go away and the warmer days to come (although preferably in a 85-90 degree gentle manner). While we are grateful to get ... Read More...

What a spring this has been! As if time doesn’t fly by fast enough, we have to be tricked by Mother Nature?! It is so hard to believe that we are mid way through May already and yet to have any weather above 85. I do have to say, that it made for a much more enjoyable Zinfest with weather in the 80′s instead the 100′s. People actually talked about the wines and the vendors and not just the heat. That said…..it is time for this rain to go away and the warmer days to come (although preferably in a 85-90 degree gentle manner). While we are grateful to get some of this wet weather following a few low rainfall years, enough is enough.
Rain makes the job of a farmer challenging! It is one of those uncontrollable factors. With winegrapes, this wet weather makes the vineyards more prone to problems with mildew and botrytis. So you may see the tractors out more frequently on a year like this, with repeated sulfur applications or other sprays to maintain the crop quality. Cooler temperatures have also put us a week or 2 behind, although Kyle says that the time can be quickly made up for with some warm July weather.
So, lets hope and pray for some great summer days and cool evenings that makes Lodi winegrapes so special!! And bring it on SOON!!

A Fresh Start

If you live close to vineyards you will notice that pruning season is in full swing.  In fact we have completed about two thirds of our pruning.  It always seems like a clean fresh start that I appreciate after the frost has left the vineyards and most of my yard looking a bit beaten.  It even inspires me to want to do some Spring Cleaning (now…if I can just find the time).  I can’t help but think about how many “fresh starts” our Lizzy James vineyard has seen since 1904.  Imagine starting your 106th season.  Think how many hands have tended you, think of the weather patterns you’ve seen, think ... Read More...

old vineIf you live close to vineyards you will notice that pruning season is in full swing.  In fact we have completed about two thirds of our pruning.  It always seems like a clean fresh start that I appreciate after the frost has left the vineyards and most of my yard looking a bit beaten.  It even inspires me to want to do some Spring Cleaning (now…if I can just find the time).  I can’t help but think about how many “fresh starts” our Lizzy James vineyard has seen since 1904.  Imagine starting your 106th season.  Think how many hands have tended you, think of the weather patterns you’ve seen, think of how many bunches you’ve grown, think of how you are thankful that you weren’t replaced with a young vineyard.

So what is pruning and it’s purpose?  Well, it really is the whole foundation for the upcoming season.  Pruning sets the stage for vine and crop balance which is essential for fine quality wine.  Yes….I said wine…..because as farmers we hold strong to the ideal that great wine has to start with great grapes.  And great grapes don’t just happen (although some seasons are more cooperative than others), they are fostered, tended to, worried about and loved. 

And when it comes to farming, I can’t miss the opportunity to toot Lodi’s horn a bit.  Lodi grows more wine grapes than Napa and Sonoma combined and has been the backbone of the wine industry for decades.  And in Lodi 80% of the wineries are owned by growers….those same people who foster, tend and worry about their vineyards season after season.  Lodi growers have adapted to market changes, lead the way in farming practices and managed to survive as farmers generation after generation.  Not an easy feat!!  And thank goodness because if we didn’t have growers that did just that their would be no OLD VINE zinfandel and the landscape of Lodi would look strikingly different.  So with our fresh start to the season…..Hats off to Lodi Growers!!!

The Balancing Act

It is commonly thought that a “stressed” vine produces the best wine with the most intense flavors.  This train of thought is great marketing for certain terrains and climates.  But, the jury is still really out on if there is much truth to this.  Research, as well as Kyle and my Dad, point to the success of creating great wine to a ”balanced” vine.  It is important, especially in the great growing climate that we have, to manipulate the vines throughout the season in order to create balance.  The right level of crop, the right amount of foliage, the right amount of water are a just few factors that we work to control ... Read More...

It is commonly thought that a “stressed” vine produces the best wine with the most intense flavors.  This train of thought is great marketing for certain terrains and climates.  But, the jury is still really out on if there is much truth to this.  Research, as well as Kyle and my Dad, point to the success of creating great wine to a ”balanced” vine.  It is important, especially in the great growing climate that we have, to manipulate the vines throughout the season in order to create balance.  The right level of crop, the right amount of foliage, the right amount of water are a just few factors that we work to control each year.  At this time of the year, the crews are busy shoot thinning.    Each block is shoot thinned according to it’s age, variety, vigor and growing history to name a few factors.  This is the simple process of removing some of the young tender shoots to begin to control some of the above named factors….crop level, foliage vigor as well as air circulation and sunlight.  And the point is of course, great fruit which is essential to great wine!  So, next time you have a glass of your favorite wine, appreciate all the hands that have been involved just creating the starting point…..the winegrapes!

Checking In On Our Little Bud!

August 27,2008 I made a promise to follow up on our little bud from the first vineyard post. So…..here it is! Same vine….same spur….nearly 5 months later. In fact, this covers the whole growing season for the fruit. The vineyard was harvested just a few days after this picture. It really is pretty amazing how quickly the vine moves through the season year after year. And this year it moved even quicker as it was harvest earlier in September than last year. Part of this vineyard was again picked for our Lizzie James Vineyard, Old Vine Zinfandel. You can catch a picture of ... Read More...
August 27,2008
August 27,2008

I made a promise to follow up on our little bud from the first vineyard post. So…..here it is! Same vine….same spur….nearly 5 months later. In fact, this covers the whole growing season for the fruit. The vineyard was harvested just a few days after this picture. It really is pretty amazing how quickly the vine moves through the season year after year. And this year it moved even quicker as it was harvest earlier in September than last year. Part of this vineyard was again picked for our Lizzie James Vineyard, Old Vine Zinfandel. You can catch a picture of that in Red Wine 101.

Lizzie James Old Vine Zin

I was out in the Old Vine Zinfandel vineyard last week looking for a picture of color change or veraison. As you can see, I found a great picture showing the variable color in the bunch as this process takes place. Soon this bunch will have full color. Some bunches already do. So, then the sulfuring stops and we wait for sugars and flavors to develop. I was struck by how amazing some of these vines are and thought you might like to see a picture of one and hear a little more about this vineyard. I’m not even sure this picture does ... Read More...

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I was out in the Old Vine Zinfandel vineyard last week looking for a picture of color change or veraison. As you can see, I found a great picture showing the variable color in the bunch as this process takes place. Soon this bunch will have full color. Some bunches already do. So, then the sulfuring stops and we wait for sugars and flavors to develop.

lj_ovz1.jpg

I was struck by how amazing some of these vines are and thought you might like to see a picture of one and hear a little more about this vineyard. I’m not even sure this picture does justice to the mass of the ancient trunk which looks much more like a plum tree than a typical grape vine. This Old Vine Zinfandel vineyard was planted in 1904 and is in sandy loam soil. In this soil the roots run deep. We have named this vineyard Lizzie James and it is the source for our Old Vine Zinfandel that we just bottled. Lizzie comes from Elizabeth which is our daughter’s middle name(after her great great grandmother on my father’s side) and James comes from our sons middle name (after his great grandfather on my mother’s side). Like this new winery venture, it is the perfect melding of families to create something new and wonderful! And those of you that got to taste the Old Vine Zinfandel know that it is wonderful.

Be sure to double click on the pictures to open them up.

Nature’s Project

Well, nature continues to move ahead with her project at a much faster pace than we seem to. I’m sure that just like a great wine, it will all be worth the wait! As you can see, the crop has “set” and crop loads appear to be somewhat lighter than average in some varieties. Despite this, our crews are very busy this time of year. Shoot thinning has been done and now they are “fruit thinning”. This means they remove part of the immature bunches to improve the quality of the rest. From here on ... Read More...

CROP SET Well, nature continues to move ahead with her project at a much faster pace than we seem to. I’m sure that just like a great wine, it will all be worth the wait! As you can see, the crop has “set” and crop loads appear to be somewhat lighter than average in some varieties. Despite this, our crews are very busy this time of year. Shoot thinning has been done and now they are “fruit thinning”. This means they remove part of the immature bunches to improve the quality of the rest. From here on out the season always seems to fly by. The grapes will quickly size and then begin to color (veraison). Before we know it, harvest will be here again!

The roses….I mean the vines…are blooming!

Seriously, how many people knew that grape vines bloom? I guess it shouldn’t be surprising since any fruit that I can think of, off hand, does bloom. But unlike a cherry orchard, you will never even notice a grapevine blooming unless you get up close. (Be sure to click on the pic so you can see it up close.) In a grape cluster, the tiny little grapes make tiny little blooms and then they pollinate each other. Pretty good plan really for a fruit that grows in a bunch. No bees needed….self sufficiency at it’s finest. So now is when the farmers wait to see ... Read More...

Old Vine BloomSeriously, how many people knew that grape vines bloom? I guess it shouldn’t be surprising since any fruit that I can think of, off hand, does bloom. But unlike a cherry orchard, you will never even notice a grapevine blooming unless you get up close. (Be sure to click on the pic so you can see it up close.) In a grape cluster, the tiny little grapes make tiny little blooms and then they pollinate each other. Pretty good plan really for a fruit that grows in a bunch. No bees needed….self sufficiency at it’s finest. So now is when the farmers wait to see how the crop “sets” to get a true idea of what size of crop this year will bring. So far it is an interesting year in winegrape growing. Early frost for several growers (we were spared) and now an early hot spell. It is important to be proactive by providing a bit extra moisture for the vines in this tender stage so that they can withstand the heat. Check back soon to see how the crop “sets”.

Amazing Spring!

Spring has sprung in the vineyards and it is amazing to watch the transformation. This is my favorite time of the year in the vineyards. Everything looks so clean and fresh…..ready to start anew for another harvest. The changes happen at an amazing rate. The pictures represent a three week span in our 100+ year old zinfandel vineyard. During this time the vine has gone through bud break and is beginning to develop those tender little grape bunches. Now the foliage is exploding, working to support the vine. Enjoy the pictures!!! March 31, 2008 ... Read More...

Spring has sprung in the vineyards and it is amazing to watch the transformation. This is my favorite time of the year in the vineyards. Everything looks so clean and fresh…..ready to start anew for another harvest. The changes happen at an amazing rate. The pictures represent a three week span in our 100+ year old zinfandel vineyard. During this time the vine has gone through bud break and is beginning to develop those tender little grape bunches. Now the foliage is exploding, working to support the vine. Enjoy the pictures!!!

March 31, 2008 April 10, 2008 April 20, 2008

March 31, 2008 100_27972.jpg 100_28012.jpg

Harney Lane’s First Blog

Bud Break! Well, as luck would have it the buds are breaking before we’ve broken ground. And by this I am referring to our new winery planned to open later this year. It’s an exciting and rather crazy endeavor but we feel it’s the right step for our family. Our family has been living and farming on Harney Lane for over 100 years now, so what could be a better name that “Harney Lane Winery”? So, we’ve been busy with architects, engineers, contractors, designers, goverment agencies, etc., etc., etc. trying to move this project forward. It seems we are finally close. Construction of our production facility and tasting room should begin within ... Read More...

Bud Break!

bud-break.JPG

Well, as luck would have it the buds are breaking before we’ve broken ground. And by this I am referring to our new winery planned to open later this year. It’s an exciting and rather crazy endeavor but we feel it’s the right step for our family. Our family has been living and farming on Harney Lane for over 100 years now, so what could be a better name that “Harney Lane Winery”?

So, we’ve been busy with architects, engineers, contractors, designers, goverment agencies, etc., etc., etc. trying to move this project forward. It seems we are finally close. Construction of our production facility and tasting room should begin within the month! And we hope to open our doors in the fall with a full line up of wines including Old Vine Zinfandel from a vineyard that’s over 100 years old, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Primitivo and a Dry Rose.

The fun part about us is that we have our hands in it from the vineyard through to the bottle. So, it means we will have lots of cool opportunities for pictures and good information on our blogs. So, check back soon to see ground breaking pictures.

Love, Laughter, Family, Wine! Cheers!