Sangiovese has awoken from it’s dormancy and leafed out this week. We were concerned this past weekend as the rain amounted to 3 inches that the baby buds would be broken, but this afternoon they were nearly translucent in the sun, and so beautiful against a poppy-strewn cover crop. Sangiovese is always our first varietal to bud, closely followed by Tempranillo. The vineyards are particularly beautiful right now, they are teeming with wildflowers and the hum of bees is a constant companion whilst meandering up and down the hills. We are counting our blessings.
Spring is most certainly here with all of the attendant work: we have beautiful buds pushing out everywhere, bud break first started in the Sangiovese and Tempranillo and quickly made it’s way through the Rhone varietals. We had ferocious winds and rain a couple of nights ago–Phillip was kept awake by his worry for those vulnerable baby shoots, he imagined waking up to destruction in the vineyard…but all is okay! (We are still slightly worried about frost damage, but at AmByth we seem to not suffer much from this malady to young buds.)
Biodynamic Preperation #500/Cow Stomach Spray, Fermenting Valerian Root/Horsetail Tea, To Weed or Not to Weed?
>Today is a Fruit Day on the Biodynamic calendar, which is the ideal working period for the vines. At the moment we are stirring for 1 hour a mixture of Horn Manure (BD 500) and cow stomach diluted in water (rate of application: 2.25 oz. Horn Manure/acre + diluted in 3-4 gallons of water/acre + 1/5 liter of cow stomach). We will begin spraying it at 1 p.m., this is believed to be the time the earth is breathing in as the sun begins its descent in the sky. We are applying this mixture to the whole property–which includes the 20 acres of Oak woodlands, as our steers are living in the woods, eating the grasses that grow under the trees. This mixture is to be sprayed in large drops on the earth itself, to stimulate the enzyme growth in the soil.
Phillip has made a decision regarding the older vines and weeds…we are not going to pull out every single weed that remains under each vine after the last passes through the vineyard with the spader. We believe the vines are old enough, meaning their roots are deep enough, so that the roots are not having to compete for water with the weeds. The roots are tapping into their own water source deep in the earth. We will continue to hand weed around the younger vines, and olive trees as the roots are more shallow and closer to the surface. And of course, we are removing the larger weeds that are more of a nuisance, however, we are continuing to think outside of the box. This is a NATURAL farm, which includes a relationship between all things that are here naturally, and rightfully. It is a thrill for me to walk through the vineyards and observe all of the bees feeding from Fiddlenecks (a beautiful, bright yellow native winter annual). If we remove absolutely everything, we are disrupting a natural habitat for the beneficial insects we have present. This is an experiment, let’s see how the vines cope as the summer passes by.
Wow! Spring brings such activity in the vineyards and winery, you’ll see by the attached photos the small grape clusters on the Viognier are appearing and growing rapidly every day. We’ve seen the clusters on the Grenache, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and of course, the Viognier. And our olive trees are loaded as well. It is such a sweet sight to see the vineyard healthy and producing for this year’s harvest.
We’ve planted the new Syrah vineyard, over 600 vines and mounded them under dirt to protect them from frost. The concern of a late frost is still present, freezes are not desperately welcome this time of year with all the rampant new growth occurring. Last year, all of the vineyards were hurt in the freezes–this year, God willing, those affected vines will make their comeback! It’s very exciting, a finger-crossing time of year for Phillip and me.
On March 31st, Phillip racked the 2007 wines and compiled the Rhone blend. We have made another Chateauneuf de Pape style blend, very similar to the ’06: 60% Grenache, 32% Mourvedre and 8% Syrah. We also have 1 barrel of no-added-sulfite Grenache, 1 barrel of no-sulfite Tempranillo/Sangiovese, and 2 more barrels of this Spanish/Italian duo in a new American oak barrel with minimal sulfites added. There is another single barrel of Mourvedre as well. All in all, and exciting line-up to look forward to and savor in 2009!
We leave this afternoon for Tuscany for nearly 3 weeks. We are visiting quite a few organic/Biodynamic wineries whilst there. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get online and post some interesting stories, pictures, updates, etc.