Well, it has been some time since I have sent out a blog posting – we’ve been swamped, busy, running in several directions and doing a vast variety of things out at our farms in Cochise county. But, I’ve been receiving some e-mail requests for updates on what’s we’re up to, so I’m attaching four (4) pictures to this e-mail, along with some news and information on all that we’ve been doing here in the American southwest.
Block 1 – Vine Development, Training and Winter Preparations
The Block 1 grapevines are absolutely looking beautiful. We have very carefully developed over 30,000 vines in Block 1, all sculpted, pinned, securely tied and appropriately set to the cordon wire. I’ve attached two recent pictures to this e-mail, which show quite well the current state of the vines we put in the ground in 2011.
All of the vines you see in these two pictures have been pruned about 3 times in total over the course of the past 4 months. We have consumed nearly 600 rolls of vine tie tape, and each vine has been carefully sculpted by hand. If you look carefully at the photograph named “photo-237.jpg”, you see a shorter row of nicely set Graciano grapevines, which sit just on the southern edge of the Block 1 field in the Kansas Settlement. Notice the green tape ties, which secure the growing vine canes to the bamboo. The leaves are thinned, and the lateral arms are securely fixed to the cordon wire. This row here was freshly hoed on Saturday morning (yesterday), and while we cleaned the area immediately around the vine itself, we left the center with natural grasses and weeds, which we’ll mow down with our bush hog next weekend.
In the photograph, titled “panorama-109.jpg”, you see Marc Moeller driving the quad with a trailerful of steel cross arms. These vines in this photograph are Grenache, or, as it’s called in Spanish, “Garnacha”. The cross arms you see here come from our supplier in Napa, and we’re just now starting to put up a large network of vine foliage wires.
I’ve attached a picture of a Grenache cluster – we aren’t harvesting fruit in Block 1, but there are some nice clusters hanging from the vines. This is one of them. This sort of thing is extremely motivating for all of us – for, the 2013 harvest is gonna be awesome.
Winter is Coming …
There is no doubt that the searing Arizona summer is nearing its end. The daily high temperatures are dropping, and out at our farms in Cochise county (4,359 feet), we need to wear sweaters to keep warm in the early morning hours. We all wear gloves, and our crews burn a mesquite fire in our fire pit in the wee morning hours to keep warm as they drink their coffee and sharpen their tools for the day’s work ahead.
We’ve begun to throttle way back on our water – we need our vines to start preparing for winter dormancy, because the cooling trend will continue, until the first snows begin to fall in early December. So we use this time to clean the field, maintain our equipment and lay down our plans for construction projects in the winter.
Fall Means Grape Harvesting & Winemaking
We crushed up about 4 tons of Verdelho in August, which is a delicious white grape varietal we get from California. I’ve attached a picture of several 1/2-ton boxes from our grower, showing the Verdelho grapes just after they were picked. These grapes, once picked are immediately trucked to us in a refrigerated semi and are crushed within about 8-12 hours after picking. The Verdelho is currently fermenting at Kent’s winery in Elgin, AZ – the aroma of the fermenting wine is absolutely incredible – fruity, earthy and incredibly fragrant.
Our 2011 wine is about ready to sell. We bottled it in August, and before we bottled the wine, Kent snapped a picture of the full barrels out on the pad. These 2011 wines, a Grenache and a Graciano will be out in select retail locations in the coming months, and we will be selling a limited amount through our online web portal, which we are working on right now.
Both the 2011 Grenache and the Graciano are absolutely incredible. Kent Callaghan (http://www.callaghanvineyards.com) crafted both of these wines, and they’re rich, dark, fruity and delicious. We will be pouring at festivals around the state this Fall, and, in particular at the Arizona Wine Growers annual Festival at the Farm (http://www.azwinefestivalatthefarm.com/) on Nov. 17th. For those of you in Arizona, we hope you’ll plan to come this awesome wine festival, which showcases the entire growing Arizona wine industry, and there will be some great stuff being poured, including ours.
That’s a Rap
We’re working on a lot of stuff – we’re very disciplined, working steadily to develop our vineyards and our wines to create something truly extraordinary here in Arizona, which is arguably one of America’s most up & coming wine regions. The great stuff going on in our wine industry right here in Arizona is simply amazing, and the growth is extraordinary and is going to afford Arizona’s wine customers with not only a great selection of local, handcrafted wines to enjoy, but also a beautiful wine country right here in southeastern Arizona to love, embrace and play in.
We’ve hosted many tours at our Block 1 field, and we really love interacting with our customers and all wine lovers who have an interest in seeing and experiencing first hand the serene, sun drenched and scenic world where wine comes from. If you would like a tour, please send me an e-mail and let me know when you and your party would like to come out. Saturdays are best for us, and we love walking the field and talking grapevines, wine and Arizona.
Until then, I’ll leave you with a closeup shot of a horny toad (photo-191.jpg). These little creatures are incredibly good luck, and they like to keep us company and follow us around as we work in the fields. I hope this picture brings good luck to you, too.