The latest vineyard update spoken through the words of the one who knows them so well, Josh Lawrence:
This spring in the vineyard can be summed up with one word: Busy! Isidro and the crew would second that opinion, and are ready to be finished with planting this spring for a little breather before cherry harvest.
Bud break was about a week early this year due to a very warm late February and March; with the extended spring frost period, we were thankful our bud break wasn’t any earlier. Many locations around the state had varieties in bud break over two weeks early, with some now reporting spring frost damage. Compounded with a freeze in early November before many of the state’s vineyards were fully dormant, we’re feeling extra thankful that we’ve faired very well as far as Mother Nature is concerned. I do see a small amount of unevenness in a few varieties, but nothing of significant concern. All in all, the crop looks great and appears to be average to above average so far this year.
This will be another year of fairly ambitious growth for us, which is at the same time exhausting and very fulfilling. This spring we planted another 38 acres at our Section 23 vineyard, which has now been officially named Solaksen, meaning sun axis in Norwegian, with regard to the orientation of the direction of the vineyard rows. This gives us the necessary 100 acres at that location to meet the Department of Ecology’s requirements for putting our water to beneficial use. We will now look to spread that water as we’ve done with our other Frenchman Hills vineyard, Corfu Crossing. We also purchased a new piece of ground last year and began planting vineyard this year with 25.5 acres now in the ground. This new block, a very warm south-sloping hill, gives us our fourth distinct vineyard location. The degree days are similar or higher than our Laura Lee vineyard, which tends to be very warm. We planted Cab Sauv and Syrah for Chateau Ste. Michelle there this year, and next year will plant more Syrah for them and Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre and Cinsault for Gard.
In our established vineyards, we just finished our first pass of sucker and shoot thinning, and we are also partway through pulling the first two basel leaves on each shoot. We do this to help with Cab fruit set and to help eliminate vegetal characteristics in the grapes. For other varieties we do it for light and air penetration, as well. The catch wires are up in half of the blocks, with the first wires going up in the Solaksen Syrah and Malbec, which have grown phenomenally in the third leaf. The growth everywhere looks good, and we should have optimum shoot height by full bloom.
Our apple and cherry crops look to be good again this year. Bing cherries look great, and should have very good market potential if the rain passes over this summer, and the apples appear to have a larger crop than last year, which was our largest to date. The apple market has struggled this past year, so we’re hoping that ship will right itself sooner than later.
Lastly, we are finally rolling on the Royal Slope AVA project with Dr. Alan Busacca taking the lead. It took a while to get the details ironed out, but I believe we are on the right track. This should be very valuable for Gard and Lawrence Vineyards over time, as well as our neighboring vineyards. The process takes nearly three years from start to certification, so you won’t be seeing that name for a while.
With agriculture coming off five historically good years, the brightest part of our operation this year has definitely been the winery and vineyard. Lisa, Alison and our outstanding tasting room teams continue to do a great job, and we are extremely grateful for your ongoing support! Cheers!