What’s Happening in the Vineyard…unseasonable winter & the vines

The iconic images of full, lush green vines weighted with beautiful clusters of grapes during the summer and rich burgundy, gold and auburn leaves during the Fall, illustrate the vibrant life cycle of a vineyard. Not to be forgotten, the bare, cold winter season represents an important part of that cycle as well. From a winemaking perspective, each step in the process plays a vital role to the development of grapes. Currently, our vineyards are going through their crucial dormant stage. Dormancy is an important period in any organism’s life cycle. This stage occurs after the vines have experienced adverse conditions. For Lodi, that means freezing temperatures that typically occur in January, and ... Read More...

The iconic images of full, lush green vines weighted with beautiful clusters of grapes during the summer and rich burgundy, gold and auburn leaves during the Fall, illustrate the vibrant life cycle of a vineyard. Not to be forgotten, the bare, cold winter season represents an important part of that cycle as well. From a winemaking perspective, each step in the process plays a vital role to the development of grapes.kyle in vineyard by randy c

Currently, our vineyards are going through their crucial dormant stage. Dormancy is an important period in any organism’s life cycle. This stage occurs after the vines have experienced adverse conditions. For Lodi, that means freezing temperatures that typically occur in January, and this year, December.  Growth and development are temporarily stopped, helping an organism to conserve energy.

With the changing climate and abrupt cease of rainfall during the early winter season, many of our Tasting Room visitors have asked how the lack of moisture will affect our vineyards.  During this dry spell, our vineyard team has been closely monitoring the water content of the soil. Special devices are used to measure the depth of soil saturation from previous rainfall in each of our vineyards, up to four feet deep.   In many local vineyards, we still have between 2-3 feet of saturation below the top layer. In our favor is a vineyards ability to absorb and store energy and nutrients during its more vibrant life cycle allowing the vine to remain healthy during a harsh or moisture lacking winter. Although 2-3 feet depth of soil saturation sounds like an adequate amount of moisture to nourish our vines, without more rain in the foreseeable future, it is likely that light irrigation will begin to mimic what is needed.

Pruning is another important part of our vineyard care this time of year. There is a very strategic and systematic approach involved. Clipping is intended to help balance the vine. Stronger shoots, or spurs, are left alone while others are trimmed to control crop yield for the coming season. Our vineyard team is very careful about the timing of certain vineyards as some varietals are more susceptible to disease. After all, pruning is essentially creating an open wound on the vine, exposing it to harsh elements.

Clearly, California needs the rainy season to descend upon us! But rest assured we will do our best in the vineyard and in the cellar to keep the grapes and wines as great as they’ve always been despite the dry spell!

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!!!