Author: Chris (page 1 of 2)

What does it mean to “hand bottle” wine?

Abbassi Vineyard Chardonnay that has been hand-bottled in our off-grid winery

The Terragena team often talks about our handmade wines, and that is something we’re serious about – our grapes are harvested by hand, and our winemaker is involved in every step of the process, including bottling.  What does “hand bottling” wine look like?  Well, we’ve tried the funnel-and-hose method before, but we have to say we’ve found a strategy that’s a bit more reliable and involves minimal mechanics so as to be off-grid friendly and gentle on the wine.

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Creature Feature: Mountain Lions

photo credit: (photo not taken at Terragena Vineyard)

Terragena’s remote location  in the rugged lands of Humboldt county hosts a variety creatures. While most of them are relatively harmless we do have a few neighbors that it’s wise to steer clear of, and as the seasons change we find ourselves ever adapting to making Terragena a safe and peaceful place for all to live.

Now that winter is setting in with frost sweeping the mountain we’ve found an unusual increase in our stealthy neighbors, the Mountain Lions. Vineyard dog Akira has been on high alert, nervously reacting to something that has been prowling closer to the clearing where we live. The cold has driven much of the small prey to be less active, and the rains have kept us from being outdoors and clamoring around as often. We have become familiar with our shy neighbors through a series of encounters, and while none we would consider close, we’ve had to make some changes to keep everyone safe.

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An Unexpected Postscript to our Harvest Story

Terragena Nebbiolo at Lost Coast

Nebbiolo Grapes at Lost Coast Vineyard

We thought we were done with grape harvest for the year.  We had made it through the long days, equipment failures, and other adventures that popped up at our off-grid winery, and we were ready to cozy up with some warm beverages in front of the fire.

It was totally unexpected when our friends at Lost Coast Vineyard offered us the opportunity to harvest some beautiful nebbiolo grapes.  Talk about an offer we couldn’t refuse…

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Going Beyond the Wall

Abiqua Wind Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Recently Chris took a roadtrip up the coast of California, through Oregon and Washington, and all the way to Victoria BC. It was a fantastic time traveling, visiting friends, and hiking all over the place. We also stopped in a bunch of wineries in the Willamette  and Rogue River Valleys in Oregon. Oregon has become well known for its excellent pinot noir, but what really blew us away was the pinot gris we tasted there.

And – it occurred to us – Oregon really isn’t that far away from the Terragena winery. Could we get some of those delicious grapes and make an Oregon wine in a California winery?

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Harvest 2016


Harvest prep: trucking barrels to the winery

The 2016 winemaking season has been particularly exciting for the Terragena team because this has been the first year we were able to make all of our wine at our off-grid Humboldt County, CA winery.  As luck (and the weather) would have it, the grapes across Northern California were ready a bit early this year, which left us a rather short timeline for preparing the winery space for winemaking.  Major thanks go out to Michael and Maria for their organizational and cleaning skills; they took the space from cluttered/disorganized to spotless-and-winemaking-ready in record time.

We harvested our first fruit of the season from the Abbassi family vineyard in the early morning hours of August 19. Our winemaker/truckdriver/proprietor Chris was on site at 3am to pick up the grapes and bring them from the vineyard in the Sonoma Carneros region all the way up to our Humboldt winery.  Everything was on schedule and Chris and the chardonnay grapes were headed northward when, at about 7am around Healdsburg, things got interesting.

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If you’ve gotten your hands on a bottle of Terragena wine, you may have noticed that we number each bottle by hand on the back label. But, you’ll never receive a bottle with a number less than 43. Not unless we like you a whole lot.

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Vineyard Pond and Irrigation Water System

irrigation water lines run across each vineyard row and individual dripper lines run to each vine to ensure that the water goes exactly where it needs to go

Way back in 2008 we started this adventure with a dream of planting a vineyard, and in 2013 we finally planted it. This is the story of the irrigation – or life support – system of the young vineyard. Though certain sections of our vineyard may be dry farmed in the future, the vines started out as a mere 4 inches tall and needed a little help to grow strong. So, we built an off-grid irrigation system to support the vines while they become established.

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High Lifter and Our Water System

Terragena water glass 2

The Terragena Vineyard fresh water system was developed slowly over the course of several years. The Terragena property includes steep hillsides and the top of the Fish Creek valley. The source for our water is an artesian spring located in the bed of a smaller creek that feeds into Fish Creek, several hundred vertical feet in elevation below the yurt clearing and vineyard house. We are grateful to have a year-round spring on our property, and we found some creative ways to pump the water up to where it is needed at the house and yurt.

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You’ve been jammed

What’s up with the Terragena Jam?

If you’ve ever stayed at Terragena Vineyard through AirBnB, you’ve probably received a jar of our homemade black raspberry jam. What’s up with that?

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Grapevine Clones

Pinot Noir: Finicky Burgundian vine produces wildly variable, relatively delicate, potentially haunting essences of place.

– Jancis Robinson et. al, Wine Grapes

What is a clone? Why do we care? Which ones do we have at Terragena? Why?

young grapevine and its cardboard protector

young grapevine and its cardboard protector

What is a clone?

A clone is a cutting from a mother vine of a plant, and it is genetically identical to the mother plant. Sometimes the mother plant, or even just part of the plant, has a mutation in one or more genes, commonly referred to as a bud sport mutation. Sometimes these mutations are beneficial, and often they are benign or even deleterious. These mutations can from time to time lead to slight variations in vines.

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