Last week found us reeling from 105+ degree temperatures over the weekend, to wind gusts up to 50 mph howling through the vineyards, for about 36 hours. We were abruptly awoken in the middle of the night to doors and windows slamming from a sudden onslaught of the wind. Morning beckoned us to the vineyards to survey the damage–Tempranillo and Syrah showed the most damage with broken off canes, some plants reduced back to bare wood. After the initial shock and despair (Phillip tends to be dramatic, but after a cup of tea chased with a glass of wine, he recovers quite nicely), and upon further examination, not all was lost. Phillip, Gustavo and Lety spent 2 days in Mark’s Vineyard, cleaning up the broken canes and removing them from the tangle of the vine. At the same time, they used machetes to take off the tips of the almost too long canes on everything, except Grenache. We take the tips off the vines so the energy of the plant goes into the small grape clusters developing, instead of continued new growth into the canes and leaves.

We’ve also been busy planting over 100 olive trees on the estate. We’ve continued to line the roads leading through the vineyards to the house and winery with trees, and added over 25 trees to the landscaping around the house. You can see from the above photo we’ve been engaged in some illegal behavior: child labor. Even our 18 month old son, Bede, has a hand in the planting. He especially enjoys the watering…anything with a hose, water and a container and he’s in heaven!

The vines continue to flower, the action just before “fruit set”. The plants have truly gone crazy, even the Mourvedre; it went from “Okay, I’m alive, I’ll grow slowly at my own pace”, to “Wow!! Look at me, I’m over 6′ tall now and still growing!!” We only managed to apply 1 application of BD 501 (the preps like to be applied in 3’s), but if a vine is going through flowering, it could damage the delicate flowers to apply 501, so we will wait until the fruit has set, then complete the series with 2 more applications.

Sadly, we have bidden farewell to the re-planting of Grenache Blanc and Counoise we put in the ground early this January. Of the 125 new plants, there is not a peep out of a single one of them. It is crazy, these 2 varietals are surrounded on both sides by Marsanne and Mourvedre replants and both of these are growing exceptionally. We will re-plant “green plants” in 2 weeks–this means they are alive and kicking, and we’ll have to hand water them through the summer to get them established (instead of planting bare root in the winter and allowing the rain to penetrate the roots to promote growth, which is what we prefer to do as a dry-farmed estate vineyard). We’re also applying 10 gallons of water by buckets to the olive trees–this is the 2nd of 3 waterings we’ve planned for this summer.

P.S. You can now find AmByth Estate wines at Zatar Restaurant, in Berkeley, CA. Check them out,