In this section, we record the key results and events of each year, including plans for the future.
In previous years, the brush was cleared out of the infrastructure (trellis and drip irrigation systems).
This was the year of the first planting in August–1,468 vines.
Re-planting (60%) and management of the first year vines. Plus, an additional half-acre of 741 green-growing bench grafts were planted.
A half-acre of about 500 green-growing bench graft vines were planted..
A half-acre of about 600 green-growing bench graft vines were planted.
A half-acre of about 600 green-growing bench graft vines were planted..
2 acres of about 2,500 field-grown dormant vines were planted in late May. First harvest of about 1/2 ton on 17-18 September.
3 acres of about 3,900 field-grown dormant vines were planted in late May. Total acreage of 9.5 acres and about 12,000 vines. Second harvest of 4 tons on 4-5 September.
3.5 acres of about 4,000 field-grown dormant vines were planted in late June. Total acreage of 13 acres and about 16,000 vines. A half-acre was set aside for a nursery of excess plants to be used for replanting in future years. Second harvest of 11.6 tons on 19-24 September. 1.76 tons were harvested from the two acres planted in 2003.
Replants from the on-site nursery as well as a few hundred plants from Sunridge Nursery were planted at missing locations throughout the vineyard. End-post anchors were installed across the vineyard. Nearly 24 tons were harvested the third week of September.
Replants were done from the on-site nursery. A third level of catch wires was added to the whole vineyard as well as finishing the first and second levels of catch wires on the newer blocks. Severe frost on the nights of 17-18 April destroyed about two acres in the low-lying areas of the vineyard. A few plants survived and pushed secondary shoots, but a lot of replanting is necessary in 2008. This was a low-yield year.
In a number of ways Mother Nature gifted us with exceptional weather for Pinot Noir. To remind us of her role in winegrowing, though, she threw out a couple of challenges to keep us on our toes! The 2006-2007 Winter rainfall was uncharacteristically low, accumulating less water in our mountain soils than a typical year. Then, a month after bud break we had two April nights with 25° temperatures that settled into a low swale in the middle of the vineyard. On the plus side, we had a successful gopher-trapping caper in February-March, eliminating over 100 of the cute little pests and saving hundreds of vines from damage or death. Our gopher control expertise evolved into its third level of improvement later this year after six years of frustrating experiences with the critters. Fruit set this season was superb, with consistent, mild weather to allow the flowers to do their work. The growing season included the normal expanse of sunlight from dawn to dusk every day, driving the photosynthesis and keeping the vines very happy. Irrigation was continued all season due to lack of winter soil water storage and this was a convenient way for a half-dozen “fertigation” cycles to be done on all blocks. (Fertigation is where we inject nutrients into the drip irrigation system to feed the root systems.) Of course, Powdery Mildew protection sprays were done every 10-14 days with a portfolio of materials to avoid resistance occurring in the plants. In many of those sprays, several foliar nutrients were added to further feed the plants via their leaf stomata. Leaf samples done at fruit set and pre-veraison confirmed that all the vital nutrients were in range for premium Pinot Noir. Toward the end of veraison, bird netting was installed on 9.5 acres. 16 tons were harvested on 4-6 September all going to the Silver Mountain Vineyards production facility where de-stemming, fermentation, pressing and racking into oak barrels was accomplished. An additional 1/4 ton was harvested in early October from a low area that took longer to ripen due to its propensity to collect cold air each night. The wine seems to be between what we saw in 2005 and 2006, which produced robust and more delicate wines respectively. Color is rich and dark and the range of bright fruit flavors is delicious. The wine is aging superbly in 30% new Hungarian oak barrels. In early Spring 2009, we expect to bottle this vintage. It will emerge three labels: Muns Vineyard, Silver Mountain and Sonnet Wine Cellars.
Another low-yield year. The first Syrah harvest at 4 tons on its one acre.
Our largest crop ever at 36 tons of Pinot Noir and 3 tons of Syrah.
An outlier year, it started out with bud break two weeks later than normal. And, yet, this was the first year ever that there were no frost events after bud break. Then, the growing season was just enough slightly cooler than normal such that ripeness developed over a month late, pushing harvest out into October. Prior to 2010, our latest Pinot Noir harvest was 22 September. And, this year the Syrah barely made it in on 3 November. However, wine quality, especially the Syrah is superb. 48 tons of Pinot Noir and 4 tons of Syrah were harvested although three small rains occurred before it was all in.
Following on 2010’s cool season, 2011 was similarly cool. We harvested two weeks earlier, though, due to a lighter crop load, though still in October rather than our usual September harvests. Yield was about half of normal, due to rain and unfavorable climate during bloom and fruit set. (more detail)
This season was textbook-perfect in all respects. While bud break was 5 weeks later than normal, all other developmental milestones fell right on a typical year, and within a day or two at all points when compared to 2009. Similar excellent quality but higher yield of 45.1 tons of Pinot Noir and 3.1 tons of Syrah. (more detail)
Following on the ideal 2012 season, this year was even better with more consistent temperature. Without high or low extremes that interrupt the vine’s development, the earliest-ever harvest commenced on 21 August. Quality was excellent and yield was slightly lower at 40.3 tons of Pinot Noir and 3.7 tons of Syrah. (more detail)
Yet a third straight near-perfect vineyard season, harvest commenced early again on 19 August with the Pinot Noir finishing on 9 September and the Syrah on the 16th. Yield fell between the prior two years: 42.2 tons of Pinot Noir and 3.5 tons of Syrah.