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.
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.
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
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.
We got back to the Terragena estate winery the same night as harvest. Even though we (Chris, Nickie, and Justin) had spent all day picking in the sun we had to crush the grapes while they were still fresh so they could begin their journey into the best possible wine. Harvest days continue for 20 or more hours. Justin was up by 3 am and didn’t quit working until at least midnight. Three cheers for the driver!
There was a little side story between leaving and arriving that I didn’t mention in my harvest post. Big Red (our affectionate name for the vineyard truck) decided to have a conniption about an hour or after Justin left the Holden-Mapley vineyard, and Justin ended up pulled to the side of the road praying for someone to stop and help. He was hanging out of the cab holding jumper cables. Someone eventually did stop, but Red wouldn’t budge on a narrow winding strip of road as the darkness was falling…
In the fall of 2012, Chris and Justin (a member of the Terragena team at the time) drove the vineyard truck and trailer all the way to the Holden-Mapley Vineyard in the Alexander Valley AVA to pick Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon in the wee hours of the morning.
That year was outstanding for viticulture in almost all of California, and the fruit looked amazing. They picked grapes alongside a small crew of professional pickers, who are always much faster at hand-picking grapes than any of us amateurs. In total, they harvested about a ton of grapes, enough for two barrels and a little extra to keep the barrels topped off over time.