Monthly Archive for February, 2013

View of the Block damaged by Frost in 2012

2.27.13-future-pruningThis block which contains younger and older vines was severely damaged last year. The pruning machine has cut the canes to about 12 inches. We are waiting as long as possible to cut them down to two buds in the hope that this will retard their growth sufficiently to reduce frost damage. The theory is that the budding begins at the tip of the cane and by pruning later we reduce exposure for the buds further down the cane which will carry the fruit. Stay tuned…
Click to enlarge:

Getting Ready for Frost

Frost danger is March and April. We were severely damaged in our older vineyard on April 7, 2012. We had our frost consultant with us on Tuesday the 26th. Examining the main location of the damage gives us an indication of cold air flow. This year we have purchased several new large air fans and will be installing a canvas fence to further direct the cold air flow more effectively.

2.27.13-marking-xWe went on an inspection trip and what is striking is the amount of water in the river despite so little rain. David remarked that once the trees begin leafing they will be quickly sucking up the excess water. At this point we have had just a little over 5 inches and the annual average is close to 18 inches. The other photo is David marking the new placement of a fan, as recommended by our expert.

Saturday February 16 Santa Barbara Winery Chocolate and Wine Pairing


Still Pruning!

Pruning will continue, probably, for another 10 days. We are getting close to bud-break and then begins two months of worrying about frost. We have fans in place, motors filled with gas, plastic fence in place, or soon to be, and now we wait for that wake-up ring that tells us the temperature is falling, usually at 2:00am.

2.12.13-pruningThe first image shows the first pruning pass with the machine and the second after the hand crew has passed. Each arm of the ‘cordon’ will have 6 to 7 spurs and each spur 2 buds for a total of 6 to 7 fruit canes per vine. In areas more susceptible to frost the spurs will not be cut back to 2 buds until budding is about to begin. This in the hope that it will delay budding closer to the cordon since budding begins at the ends of the spurs.

Well it’s worth a try.

Valentine Weekend – Saturday, 16 and Sunday, 17 at Lafond Winery in the Santa Rita Hills

shutterstock_13919590-dipped-strawberriesFor the weekend Mirella will offer Chocolate Dipped Strawberries (from her favorite stand fresh off a nearby field) and Chocolate Brownies. Wines will be selected for Tasting that compliment these delicious flavors. The Tasting Fee is 10.00 per person and we are open from 10-5.

Mirella has been doing this for so many years that we can safely say it is now a tradition…

Pascale Beale Winter Cooking Class Saturday, February 9, 2013

2.09.13-pascale-beal-overviewThis is Pascale’s fifth or sixth Cooking Class at Santa Barbara Winery and they have become increasingly popular. We limit the class to thirty and it usually lasts from 1:00 to 3:00.

Endive, Apple and Roquefort
with a warm nut Vinaigrette.
Paired to our Orange Muscat Wine

Salmon Coulibiac with a Herb and Chive Coulis.
Paired with our Reserve Chardonnay

Apple Crumble.
Paired with Late Harvest Riesling

Pascale is best known for her popular Seasonal Cookbooks adopting her recipes to match the available local fruit and produce. These beautifully illustrated Cookbooks are available at the Santa Barbara Winery.

At her class the only item she prepared earlier was the Apple Crumble everything else was prepared at the winery.

New Release Santa Barbara Winery 2010 Lafond Vineyard Grenache

2010-grenache-wg The Santa Rita Hills is a small appellation at the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley that has gained national recognition for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The Valley runs west to east permitting the late afternoon ocean fog to roll into the Santa Rita Hills, where it lingers until early morning. The surrounding hills trap the fog before it is dissipated in the wider Santa Ynez Valley.

In the summer the fog moderates the normally warm days of the valley, cooling the grapes at night. Warm days and cool nights are essential to the developement of a balanced acid/sugar ratio. In the winter when frost is our biggest concern, a layer of fog over the vineyard can provide protection.

We have a small block of Grenache, 2.25 acres. We planted it several years ago as a test, at the time only 1 acre, but we were so pleased with the results that we extended it to its present size.

We plan on adding several more acres. Grenache in this cool zone produces a wine that is different from the warmer areas – fruitier and spicier with a hint of white pepper – more nuanced.

Winemaker’s comment: Now eight years old this block is showing increasing depth and richness. Aromatic red fruit and spice accentuated by the cool climate of Santa Rita Hills.

The general consensus is that we need to plant more. We have obtained cuttings, for two additional acres, which will be grafted to root stock by a nursery this winter and planted in the spring of 2014.

Suggested retail: 28.00
To order: