As a fourth generation Amador County farmer since 1852, I’m honored to disclose what occurs between the cellar door and the Great crush.
There are a plethora of viticultural and enological activities that occur behind the farm gate. Currently, we are finishing up pruning the vines for the year. After the vines are pruned, we paint the large wounds to protect them from insects and pathogens. We will then mulch up the canes with seven-foot flail mowers to decompose them into the ground.
Soon after, we will apply our crop care materials to abate the weeds. Then, apply some fertilizer for next year’s crop and to assist our sustainable cover crops. The crew will go through the vineyards and pick up rocks, trash and arms that were cut off the vines to be burned to stop spread of disease.
Next, we will go through and put milk cartons on the baby vines to protect them from wind, sun burn, hungry rabbits, spring frost and assist them so the tender branches don’t break during the growing season.
Once the canopy and grass starts growing, we will start mowing our cover crops with hedgers mounted on the front of the tractors so we do not break off the canes, and it helps to open the canopy for more air movement and ripening of the fruit.
The crews will start to sucker the vines, which is the removal of all shoots and growth on the bottom part of the vines. In the center of the plant, we will crown thin the vines, which is the removal of unwanted or unneeded extra canopy. In certain areas, we may remove excessive fruit and drop it on the ground.
The next thing you know, it’s harvest time and we are using our hand held refractometers to check the sugar or Brix levels. Generally speaking, in Amador County we are at full harvest beginning of September.
Cheers to Vintage 2020!