This week I found time to get out in To Kalon and work a bit. The fastest way to get to know a vineyard is to work in it. Moving through the rows with steady purpose and rhythmic cutting you start to get a feel for the strong and weak areas. The undulating rises and dips in the ground where frost or water may settle at various times in the season. I only had time for a little but so I started in Monastery with our vineyard manager Matt Ashby.
This particular block of Monastery is Reserve Sauvignon Blanc that is spur pruned and cordon trained.
We’re leaving two buds per spur so that there will be two fruitful shoots this next season per position.
When you are pruning you take between 90-95% of last years growth off. I’ve taken a before and after shot below.
This was my first time pruning To Kalon. It’s a little daunting knowing what this vineyard is capable of but you still have to make the cuts reasonably fast. I found out two things; I still know what cuts to make but I’m A LOT slower than I used to be when I was pruning more often. Good pruners can prune close to or above 100 vines per hour. I was around 30 vines per hour which is embarrassingly pathetic from where I was three springs ago when I pruned last. It just goes to show you, if you don’t use it you lose it! The vines are bleeding profusely so budbreak will be shortly upon us and with it the beginning of my vintage note updates for 2014!
One of the great things that we get to experience living in the Napa Valley are the amazing events put on throughout the year including Premier Napa Valley and Auction Napa Valley both put on by the Napa Valley Vintners. It’s so exciting to be able to be in the crowds and feel the excitement. It’s also extremely rewarding as a winemaker to get instant feedback from others about your wines. For Robert Mondavi Winery, we’ve entered a 20 case lot. That means in the winery we go through days of blending for a wine that will only add up to a little less than a barrel. It is a SUPER small amount but still approached as seriously as any of our other blends. Each one is important!
My week doesn’t really get going until Friday afternoon when the Oakville growers descend on Far Niente. Doors open at 3pm and the event runs until 6pm. I’ll be there the whole time so be sure to say hi. The main event so to speak is the lot tasting and auction on Saturday at the CIA Greystone. This is exciting for multiple reasons. A) it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of an auction. B) I get a chance to taste other wines from the valley. It’s a great opportunity to see what everyone else is doing as well as to get feel for how the valley as a whole is presenting itself to the world. Finally C) It’s a great time to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I’ll be rotating between pouring at the Robert Mondavi Winery station (#13 if memory serves me correctly) with the rest of the team and tasting throughout the room. The only downside? Cell service is spotty at the CIA. Must be all that stone architecture. Therefore, there won’t be much tweeting from me even though there will be plenty to tweet about.
I hope everyone has a great time and I’ll see you there!
On another note, vintage 2014 is quietly beginning
The newly pruned vines on To Kalon were bleeding this morning!
Today I saw the corner of my desk for perhaps the first time since starting at Robert Mondavi Winery. I, like most people I would assume, have a pile of things “to do” at the corner of my desk. Over the past year that pile has increased to levels where at some moments papers were falling this way and that every time I walked by. Occasionally I reduced it to one or two papers but there was always something on that corner to do. Finally, I feel I’m catching up. This time of year we are working on coaxing the last of the new wines from 2013 through Malolactic conversion. We are barreling down the last lots from tanks and getting ready to finish blending the 2012 wines some of which will be going to bottling as early as this May. We are also approaching one of my favorite times of the winemaking year, Marketing travel season! This year I have a few trips that are on the calendar including a trip to Europe during which I’ll visit London and Dusseldorf, Germany. I’m SO excited about this one because I have never spent anytime in Germany and have spent very little time in London. At the end of the trip I’m taking a few personal days to tour one of my favorite wine regions; the Mosel! I love Riesling and the Mosel is the Mecca for Riesling lovers. I’m also going to the East Coast for a little bit, hitting Tennessee, Missouri, and Georgia at different times this year. It should be lots of fun. I haven’t done any serious traveling since early 2012 and I really miss it. We’ll see how different it is now that I have a family vs when it was just my husband and I. Anyway, that cleaned off corner on my desk represents a change I the seasons of winemaking and I for one am welcoming it!