We’ve been working with the Swayze Vineyard since 2015. It is a high-altitude, with hot weather, and constant wind. We have come to define the season by simply looking at the number of days during the growing season (March to August harvest) over 100F. In some years, it is only 10 days prior to harvest that reach 100F. We are currently seeing ripening a week earlier than the past, but as of August 9th, we’ve only had 5 days over 100F. However, we’ve spent the entire season above 90F so the accumulated hours of warm temperature (growing degree days) has been more. We are harvesting grapes for our rose program this week (1-2 weeks early) and hope that the ripening grapes hold on to their quality for a few more weeks for our red harvest.
The Schoolhouse Vineyard received official designation as a California Historic Vineyard and our ongoing rehabilitation efforts are (literally) bearing fruit. These own-rooted Mission vines rely entirely on rainfall and this year they only got two inches. Since being planted in 1899 they’ve weathered many droughts and are well adapted to the reality of the arid high desert. Nearby Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake, across the street on the San Andreas Fault, are both completely dry. The lower portion of the vineyard has better access to the subterranean water table and those vines produced a tiny crop of fruit. That half acre parcel has probably yielded 300 lbs of grapes, but that fruit looks outstanding. The challenge now is keeping the coyotes, raccoons, and squirrels off the fruit long enough to get a small harvest. The upper portion of the vineyard is still being recovered from sagebrush and didn’t produce much fruit at all.
Our vineyards in Ventura County all have access to irrigation. After receiving only 2.5” of rain this season we turned on irrigation and deep watered all the vines early in the spring. They responded well and set an average volume of fruit. We are fully through veraison on Sangiovese at this point, but all the other varieties are slowly making their way towards being fully dark. Quality looks good. The unusually warm, dry weather has kept powdery mildew largely in control and it should be a good harvest of really balanced fruit.
We have only worked with the vineyard at 4th and Haven in Cucamonga in the past. This historic property has been under plans for removal for several years. This year’s crop is very small due to the drought. We hope to get one more harvest, but last year’s field blend could have been the last for this old vine Zinfandel and Mission.
We have received some Zinfandel from the historic Lopez Vineyard for a client. The old vine Zinfandel is lower in sugar relative to ripeness this year with solid acidity. The drought is causing about 20% of the clusters to shrivel.
The beauty of working our 109 mile radius is that one region can compensate for other regions. This year looks like we will rely more heavily on Santa Barbara County than in the past. Fruit quality is excellent and the overall warmer temperatures should give us the opportunity to harvest everything with balanced acidity and ripeness.