I have a distinct advantage as I work at several wineries (Ladera Vineyards in Napa county on weekdays and Gundlach Bundschu in Sonoma on various weekends.
I often marvel at the changing seasons and speedy growth of the vines. As we are coming out of winter and the dormant period towards the budding of spring, I believe this is an excellent time to get started. My plan is to introduce you all to the agricultural parts of the industry as well as winemaking in general. I have picked a particular vine which I will photograph once a week - over the next eight to ten months. You will see that vine be pruned, bud, grow, produce a cluster, and be harvested for wine.
Along the way, I will introduce you to the winery itself and the people that work here. I'll show you how wine is made and try to answer basic questions (I'm an office slug, but I have great resources at hand!).
To begin... as an introduction, the winery was built in 1886 by two Frenchmen, Jean Brun and Jean Chaix. It was called Nouveau Medoc and is literally a French Chateau...
It passed through a number of hands over the past 100+ years before being purchased by Patrick and Anne Stotesbery who have painstakingly restored the building (on the business website, you can view pictures of the restoration). But onto the grapes...
At the end of the harvest (November-ish), the vines go into dormancy and all of the leaves fall off. Starting in late January, they have to be pruned back to their stalk but the initial pruning is just to get long, spindly arms. It is a bit cold and rainy as our guys are pruning:
This is our Vine-of-the-Year: It is a Petit Verdot varietal - it was chosen because I can walk to it from my office:
As a contrast (which you can't tell yet until there are leaves and clusters), this is a Cabernet Sauvignon vine:
Right now there are still tall arms on the vines. Once the rains are closer to stopping, the vines will be pruned back to the stump (we don't do it now because it is easier for disease to go into what is essentially a raw, open wound on the vine when there are still rainy days ahead).
edited to fix pictures and some spelling
Edited by Carolyn Tillie, 01 March 2004 - 04:17 PM.