State of The Vineyard - Spring 2017
Did you ever wonder why some wineries have consistently good wine? At Bella Grace, our quality and consistency starts in the vineyard. With warmer weather upon us (finally!!), let me introduce you to some of the things that are happening in our vineyard.
Pruning. The first and most important work that is done in the early spring has the most lasting effect on grape quality --- pruning the vines. Pruning determines many results for the vine, including, 1) grape cluster growth and production, 2) vine development for the coming growing season and many seasons into the future, and 3) overall vine health. Our work crews are given specific instruction that impact the vine's results; limiting the number of new buds to two per vine shoot will keep grape production low and quality high, using good decision making during pruning will affect the vines' fruit balance and shoot development over time, and recognition of vine decay will stimulate decisions for new shoot selection and removal of weakened shoots. Workers in the vineyard are trained to make decisions that affect vine results, and do it instinctively as they move from vine to vine.
Soil amendments. Once pruning is accomplished, it is time to tend to the second most important work in the vineyard, soil mending between the vineyard rows. Each year in early November, we prepare the soil and plant a winter cover crop. The cover crop is composed of organic legume plants that will provide nourishment of nitrogen to the vines during the growing season. It includes Cayuse Oats, Bell Beans, Magnus Peas, and Common Vetch. Over the winter, the cover crop will grow to be as tall as the vines, and in early April, after the plants begin to flower and prepare to set their seeds, we mulch the cover crop. Mulching is done with a flail mower, and before the green mulch has a chance to dry, it is sowed into the soil with a special machine called a spader. The spader acts like a rototiller, moving the green material into the soil to depths of 8-12 inches. The soil will capture the nutrients and enrich the vines during the growing season. The result is a bigger and better canopy of leaves for the vines. The combination of quality vine leaf development, soil moisture and sunlight triggers the photosynthesis process to produce better flavors in the ripening grapes. If you visit the vineyard in August, you will notice the difference in the green canopy in the vineyard compared to neighboring vineyards.
More. Soon after our soil preparation, we perform other work to prepare for the dramatic growth of the vines during May and June. The vines are re-tied to their posts with natural twine to insure they can support the grape loaded vines during ripening, Irrigation lines are repaired, grass around the vineyard is mowed, and herbicide is applied under the vines to control weeds and reduce any competition for water for the vines. All the while, the vine buds are growing on the shoots. Bud break in the vineyard marks the new growing season! From bud break to eventual grape harvest, there will be much more work to be done to insure that we get the right grapes for the new wines. Stay tuned!.
Come see the results in the vineyard for yourself. Visit us Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the vineyard and wine cave for wine tasting. We are always happy to talk about what is going on in the vineyard!
Bella Grace Vineyards and Wine Cave
22715 Upton Road. Plymouth, California 95669