In 2011, we decided to pull out 9 acres of Syrah that was in decline and underperforming. We took the opportunity to plant a few different varietals in its place: 2 acres of Viognier, 2 acres of Mourvedre, and 6 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. If you have been to the vineyard in the last year, you have been able to see the new plantings.
Aerial shot of new blocks. 2: Cabernet Sauvignon, 3: Mourvedre, 4: Viognier
If you happen to notice the new vines added up to 10 acres, it’s not a typo! We planted over 1 acre of bare ground that the previous owners intended to build a house on one day. The new vines were planted this past Spring and we expect will come into production (on a very small-scale) by 2015.
More recently, we have been working on preparing 30 additional acres of bare ground, to plant Cabernet Sauvignon, to the west of the existing vines. We first started discussing this expansion as a family in 2010. After much debate, we placed an order for vines in January of 2012. What timing we had!
Site of new development.
The California wine industry (really the global wine industry) is on the verge of a major shift in supply and demand. Wineries and growers alike have expected this shift for many years now. However, continuous years of above average crops and a bad economy prolonged the inevitable, but we are now about to experience a lack of supply at every level of the distribution channel. There may be an abundance of great wine at cheap prices in retail shops today, but, if wineries scrambling to acquire the amount of grapes they need to meet demand is any indication, this will not be a buyers market much longer.
There is a rush to plant new vines in California and the truth is, there are not enough to go around. Nurseries have to predict what growers and wineries will need, and for the past few years, it hasn’t been much. With the impending shortage on the horizon, orders for new vines have skyrocketed and not all orders are being fulfilled. We are fortunate that we placed our order soon enough to secure healthy vines from a reputable nursery.
So what are we doing to prepare for the planting of 30 acres in 2013? The piece of land we will be developing has been planted to grain in the past, but never vines. This means we are starting from scratch. We will be building a reservoir and drilling a well. We will be building crossings over the creek bed and surveying to help determine block orientation. We will be prepping the soil and installing a trellis system. We (and the capable companies we have hired!) have started some of these tasks and are waiting on permits to complete others. While Spring 2013 may seem far off to some, it feels like it is right around the corner for us!
We are thrilled about the expansion and can’t wait to share pictures of the process! Hopefully, if all goes as planned, next Summer I will be posting pictures of the finished product. Something along these lines…
Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted in Spring 2012.