We're overdue reporting on harvest 2018 -- it was lovely. The previous year had some terrifying moments -- not just the fires, but also the "heat event" on September 1 when it became crazy hot for a few hours -- among other things, resulting in our redirecting all of the Petit Verdot into a rosé. 2018 had none of that -- a calm, long harvest, with lots of time for decisions. Many people are talking about it being a large crop, which is true -- overall yields were above average -- but the story varies by block. The block for our Brothers Vineyard Cabernet actually came in below '17. So far, we like what we're tasting in barrel -- time will tell.
An unusual April storm has brought several more inches of rain, so we’re worrying less about a return to full-bore drought. With a little more rain in the forecast, it looks like we’ll come out with around 75% of normal rainfall – which assumes “normal” still exists. The key thing is having a storm big enough to completely saturate the fields at least once during the rainy season – we definitely got that, so should be fine for the growing season. Spring is also the time to plant replacement vines – there’s nothing more frustrating than farming a vacant location in a vineyard. These Sauvignon Blanc replacement vines arrived Friday. They’ll be lounging under an oak tree for the next week or two to acclimatize to their new home, but they all should be in the ground before the end of the month.
We’re often amazed at the idiosyncrasies of holistic farming. When you eliminate plowing, it strengthens the ecosystem of the vineyard because the natural microbes and insects that grow above and below ground come into balance and the soil becomes a healthier place for grapes to grow. But this means it’s also a healthier place for gophers to grow, and gophers like to eat the roots of grapevines, especially young and tender grapevines. There are a lot of things people do to address gophers, ranging from traps, to explosives to poisons – none of which feel like they promote a healthy, natural field. Fortunately, farming as non-invasively as possible gives nature room to strike a balance in gophers, just as it does for microbes – in this case, leading two healthy, young coyotes to take up residence in the woods by the Brothers Vineyard. The photo is of one of them having some lunch in the vineyard on a recent sunny afternoon.