Monthly Archive for March, 2013

Chardonnay is First out of the Gate

Chardonnay buds early as does the Pinot Noir. This year, because we intentionally pruned the Pinot Noir as late as possible to delay its growth, Chardonnay is well ahead. Our Chardonnay is on a higher plateau and is less at risk from frost and late pruning is not necessary. If you enlarge the image you can see the appearance of the grape cluster.
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Final Pruning Tuesday March 26, 2013

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3.26.13-hand-pruning-2 We have started the final hand pruning. We delayed, after the machine pruning, on the theory that this would buy us a little time during the frost season. The fruit buds near the trunk would be delayed while those at the ends would grow.

We have already had two frost warnings, Friday and Saturday. Enrique has turned on our 9 large fans – these are run by gasoline motors, and unfurled a 2500 foot canvas fence to direct the frost coming down the gully away from the vines.

It takes about 2 hours to do all this. The alarm usually goes off around 1:00am. A great way to start the day. There will, undoubtedly, be several more warnings before spring is over and if not too severe the system should work.

Lafond Winery Tuesday March 19, 2013

Beautiful day at the vineyard. Pinot Noir buds are swelling, but just barely. Some of the plants around the vineyard are showing activity. The Ceanothus, of which we have several are beginning to bloom and some of the Jasmine is exploding but only in very sunny areas. This is a good time to visit the winery and enjoy spring as it comes to life.3.19.13-lafond-winery-1
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3.19.13-lafond-winery-3 Click images to enlarge:

Santa Barbara Winery Wine Club Pick-up Party, Saturday March 16, 2013

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Santa Barbara Winery Chardonnay

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3.13.13-carlos-adjusting-puncheonIt is time to start pulling the wine out of the puncheons. The wine was fermented in puncheons, allowed to sit on its lees, a combination of sediment and yeast cells, and periodically stirred so that all the wine absorbs its flavors. The first image Alan is using gas to push out the wine. Bruce then places the puncheons on the barrel cleaner, then Carlos spins the puncheon to drain the lees and permit the cleaning spray to enter. Fabulous teamwork.

View of the Vineyard

3.13.13-view-from-north-sideThis is a photo taken from the north side of the river. The winery is hidden behind the trees in the background. If you click on the image you can see more clearly one of our fans on the right hand side straddling the road. This vineyard has two more fans, that we hope are strategically placed, as well as a long canvas fence that has yet to be unfurled – all for frost protection.

Topping

3.13.13-alan-toppingThis is Alan topping at the Lafond Winery. Usually when you top you wear a flashlight on your head so that you can see the level of the wine in the barrel, Alan does it by sound and he never overfills. This man could tune your piano.

Bottling

We have just started bottling which we will now do, intermittently, for the next 6 months. Bottling mostly wine from the 2012 vintage but also some reds from 2011, wines that have benefited from additional barrel ageing.

The series of images shows first the bottling and corking, putting the capsule on by hand, spinning the metal capsule and finally putting the cases on a pallet. The non-robotic arm in the last image is our answer to sore backs after lifting and stacking cases all day.

We installed it last year but it was never used. This year, with a fresh start, it seems to have caught on. It works on suction lifting two 40 plus pound cases and positioning them on the pallet.
Click images to enlarge:
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View from Winery

3.05.13-view-of-river-treesThe day is cold and overcast. This is a view from the picnic area over the Pinot Noir showing the trees by the river and their frosted appearance in the winter light.
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Mowing Ground Cover

3.1.13-mowing-ground-coverWe have begun mowing the ground cover planted last fall. And again this is protect the vines from March and April frost. A smooth surface facilitates air movement. The grasses that have grown between the rows are uneven and when there is a cold spell and the large fans are turned on we want the cold air to move over the surface to be pushed skyward by the fans.

A Sign Resurrected at Santa Barbara Winery

3.1.13-signCarlos discovered a 45 year old sign covered by ivy, on one of our buildings, which had long been forgotten. It is quite charming, carved from redwood planks, the gold paint faded and mostly gone. Carlos rejuvenated it without destroying its antique quality.