Monthly Archive for November, 2011

Looking under the Hood

These images are of our grape stemmer, both sides, with the hood open. Somehow it gets the job done, gently massaging and removing the grapes from their cluster. Our earlier and more traditional grape stemmer simply whirled the clusters around while beating them with paddles and by centrifugal force throwing the grapes through a grape sized screen.

For those who remember Rube Goldberg it looks like one of his machines, but with the hood down and in working mode it does a great job. We are amazed at how gently it handles the grapes removing the vast majority of even those small pesky jacks which have a tendency to cling to the grape.
Click images to enlarge:

Preparing the Vineyard for Winter

As the vines go dormant and before the rains begin in earnest we need to prepare the vineyard for winter. Today we had three tractors working together – one following the other. First the field is disked, breaking up the soil and turning it over. Next it is roto-tilled breaking up the clumps left by disking and smoothing out the soil.

The last is a seeder which injects seeds into the soil, below ground, out of reach of starlings and crows. And then we wait for rain to make everything grow. The ground cover not only helps with preventing erosion but it improves the quality of the soil as well contributing nutrition to the vine.

As you can see from the photos the rows are narrow, 6feet, the tractor 4feet, with clearance on either side less than 1foot, yet they zip through the vineyard – concentration and practice.
Click images to enlarge:

Saturday, November 26 – Group Tasting in the Barrel Room

On busy days when large groups visit the winery, this was a group of 20, Mirella sets up a separate area within the winery for tasting. It provides more room where they can interact among each other and gives them a view of the inside workings of a winery. On a day like today, warm and beautiful, it allows them to wander outside, catch the view and enjoy the sunshine.

Dormant Vines

The vines are dormant as they shed their leaves. We are planting a cover crop between the vines but other than that not much else will be done until we start pruning at the end of February.

We prune as late as possible – to delay growth and protect the vines from late frost. The dilemma is how long will pruning take and when will budding occur – we have good men working on it.

Post Harvest

The picking part of harvest is over but we still have several tanks fermenting. About a dozen are in our ‘warm room’ going through extended maceration. These are small 1 ton bins, about 6′ tall and they are kept in the ‘warm room’ because it gets cold up here in Santa Ynez – today we had frost on the ground.

In the vineyard not much is going on they are wrapping the nets, used for bird defense, around the drip line. This is the best system we have found – once installed it is easy to pull up and cover the fruit zone and easy to roll up.

We are composting all our white wine crushed grapes as well as the stems from both red and white wines. The lines are set up and they will be turned over regularly. It looks like a lot but in the end the pile is about 1/3 its original size. It makes very good compost and we use it in the week areas of the field. The pressed red grapes are kept in a separate pile and make great ground cover.
Click images to enlarge:

Harvest Slideshow


Last Day of Harvest 11/17/11 – Processing the last of the Syrah

Lafond Winery & Vineyards

The harvest is not quite finished at Lafond Winery. There are still over 20 tons of Syrah to pick from our vineyard, and Cabernet Sauvignon from McGinley Vineyard. These are late harvesting varieties, have tougher skins and hang more loosely than other varieties – a protection from early rain.

The barrels in the image are stacked outside where they will be cleaned and then filled with Pinot Noir pressed earlier.

Last Day of Harvest at Santa Barbara Winery

Today Santa Barbara Winery processed Chardonnay and White Grenache grapes, the last of the season. It has been a very late harvest due to an unusually cool spring and summer. The long growing season is producing grapes, and eventually wine, of intense flavor, but to be still picking Chardonnay in the middle of November – is unusual.