I planted the estate mourvedre vineyard in March of 2009. By definition, this is a baby vineyard still.
The goal in 2009 was to grow one strong shoot to the cordon wire, this would become the main trunk of the vine.
The goal in 2010 was two shoots that would be the “forever” cordons.
The goal in 2011 was 4-6 vertical shoots on each cordon. (4-6 vertical shoots = 8-12 spurs per vine)
This year the goal was 2 shoots per spur and our first “real” harvest. Real is in quotes because we did harvest grapes in 2010 and 2011, but they went into the Haut Tubee blend and had little else to offer besides volume as the vineyard is not mature enough yet to try and crop on its own.
I’ve been intentionally stressing out this vineyard and making it struggle to grow – for one thing, the mourvedre vines we have worked with in Santa Clara Valley have all been extremely vigorous. The other reason is that I planted them in my front yard where most people have lawns and I didn’t want to waste any more water. That said, only half of the vineyard is in Year Four of development and that’s ok, I’m not after instant gratification.
I think it’s a real travesty when vineyard owners try to get the maximum fruit yield possible when the vines are still young. Aggressive watering practices and lazy pruning so that immediate results are available is detrimental to the long term health and care of the vines. It also makes my job that much harder because my loyalty is to the vine and I want to do what’s in the vines best interest.
As an expression of my frustration, I made this analogy:
Just because a menstruating 10 year old girl can get pregnant, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Let your baby vines grow up, grow healthy, and mature before you try to crop them to full yields. Treat each of your vines as individuals and recognize that some will struggle under the shade of the magnolia tree, some will outgrow and outpace the others and some will succumb to nutrient deficiencies in the soil.
Paul and I treat each and every vine individually and each vineyard as its own entity – we would never employ the same methods on a young vineyard that we do in the older ones. If we start to make sacrifices in the vineyard then we’ve stopped caring about our livelihood. We strive to make wine we are proud to serve, share and enjoy with you.