There’s nothing like driving a crawler on AmByth’s steep hillsides to clear the cobwebs. It’s great to have the grapes put away for the year, and to be FARMING again. A couple of days ago, we applied BD Prep 501-Horn Silica-combined with dried Horsetail (equisetum) tea to all of the vines, olive & fruit trees and vegetables. Horsetail always gives a little boost to the plant’s immune system (acting against fungus) and 501 attracts light into the roots through the leaves for the work to come in the winter–the REAL work in the vines and trees.

A brief pause for thought–working in the winter, everything goes dormant, right? Correct, our vines and fruit trees go dormant (shedding leaves and shutting down for the year, the olives remain their silvery green but they, too, are resting until late Spring), but think about Spring and that BURSTING forth that occurs. All of that energy comes from the roots clamoring out to get some sunshine. In order to do that, they need to prepare and be strong. Applying 501 in the fall aids in this process. Following the 501, we chisel the vineyards–a gentle opening process which encourages the sun’s rays to penetrate further and to prepare the ground for the winter rains. In the next couple of days we will be applying the first of 3 BC preps (Barrel Compost). This spray holds all of the BD preparations and has been aged in the ground, maturing and growing billions of enzymes to be transferred to our earth to make the soil a living, breathing entity (in other words, enzymes that will eat, sliver and slide through the soil aiding in the decomposition processes and further aerating the soil).

Now for a harvest recap:
The first surprise was the fact that it was harvest time again! It always feels like it just happened a few months ago (or so it seems) and here we are again…wow!
August 12th was the first pick: a light pick of the Viognier and Tempranillo followed by a complete pick of both a few days later. Incredibly, the Viognier is still fermenting dry nearly 2 months later. It is very close to bone-dry, but still working (on average it takes 10 to 14 days for our grapes to ferment dry). We pressed off the final pick, Counoise, a few days ago. It is settling in stainless before going into the barrel for aging. Yes, our harvest was early and ended very quickly. This seems to have been the trend in Paso Robles this year. There is still Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel hanging out there in the Paso vineyards, but almost everything else has been brought in. And don’t forget, we tend to be earlier because we’re dry-farmed.
As always, there are disappointments and hurrahs. The disappointment was the relatively light crop: we had an average of a 1/2 ton of fruit per acre. To put that in perspective, our goal is 2 tons per acre. A larger commercial enterprise is somewhere between 5 & 12 tons an acre (thus cheaper wine…among other things). The hurrahs: we managed to get all of the fruit in at the right sugar levels (which converts to alcohol). Or, in the case of Syrah, which was slightly over-ripe, we co-fermented it with some early picked Grenache and Mourvedre (lower sugar levels) to even it all out. All went well with natural primary fermentation and now natural malolactic fermentation happening at its own time, as it should.
The surprise of the Harvest was the Grenache Blanc, we will probably make a single varietal of it! (Which was not initially part of the plan.) We will also make a Viognier blend with Grenache Blanc as a secondary component. We will see how they evolve and make that decision in 6 months or so.
So now Havest 2009 is over…and we’re back to caretakers of the elixir.
“In Vino Veritas”, no really, “In Vino Veritas”–ingredients: grapes!