Kuhlman Cellars Blog
We've begun the earth works for the new estate vineyard!
There are several steps taken to put the vineyard in, including several which happen before we ever plant a vine.
Before we begin, we layout the vineyard blocks and agree on the orientation of the rows and the placement of the irrigation pipes. Generally, we want the rows to run north / south so as to get the best sunlight as the sun moves from east to west. Irrigation lines need to account for elevation shanges to ensure each vine gets the same amount of water - we don't want only the vines at the bottom of the rise to get water!
We start the land preparation by eliminating whatever is currently growing on the site. For the last ~20 years, the estate pasture was cultivated for coastal hay production. Coastal is a durable and resiliant grass and it handles period of drought by going dormant and then waking up once rains come. This means the roots are strong and well developed.
Once the coastal is eliminated, we rip the soil to fragment it and provide air for the to-be-planted vines. This involves running a large dozer over the ground and pushing long ripping blades into the earth to "rip up" the soil. We captured a short segment of this ripping in action in the video below!
The next steps include installing the trellising, running the irrigation lines and planting cover crops. All of this has to take place prior to the vines planting in the late spring.
Stay tuned and come visit to watch as we progress through the establishment phase in preparation for planting the first vineyard blocks next spring.
We've anticipated this day for several years - ever since we bought the familty farm back in 2010 - we've thought about having our first harvest from the test vineyard!
Well, today we gathered with some family and friends and harvested the first few varietals. This includes the Tempranillo, Viognier and some of the Alicante Bouschet. As we will do moving forward, this was a hand harvest where we take each cluster from the vines using hand shears. This provides a gentle handling of the fruit and also allows us to select only the best clusters and leave any damaged or otherwise less than pristine fruit.
There was a big celebration from everyone as we met at the south end of the viognier row and had Reed and Diane, our vineyard manager and winegrower respectfully, take the first two clusters. Some of the clusters were Huge! Especially both the Tempranillo and the Alicante.
We were very pleased with the amount of fruit harvested! In fact the clusters were larger than we anticipated, so our total weight was a fair bit more than predicted. The quality also could not be better!
Once harvested we then took the fruit to be destemmed and then sorted to ensure only the best berries and no MOG (material other than grapes) made it into the fermenter. This is an intensively manual process as the team literally looks at every single grape to identify those flawed items and / or potentially foriegn objects and hand removes them. It is a lot of fun, and there is always good conversation to be had as your eyes and hands do the work, but leave your mind and mouth for friendly conversation.
The fruit is all co-fermented. This simply means we are not separating the different grape types, but are putting them all in the same vessel for fermentation. This is a classic old-world approach to winemaking and it suits our needs very well with the existing vineyard.
What will the sine be like when done? Stay tuned and be patient as it will be a few years before we know the real result of our labors!
We have started the production facility construction and in only 12 days, the crew made remarkable progress! They worked nearly non-stop until time for the July 4 holiday weekend. This time lapse video shows just how awesome the Barns and Buildings crew is as they go about their great work.
The facility is 50x72’ on the inside along with an incredible 22x72’ shaded front porch overlooking the to-be-installed vineyard blocks. Our tasting room will be inside the production facility so you can taste among the tanks and barrels.
Work remains, but we are optimistic the facility will be ready for 2014 Crush as well as our limited opening later this summer. Stay tuned!
We spent the day with Dan McLaughlin in Robert Clay Vineyards recently where we helped with netting the Merlot as well as checking progress on our 2014 grapes.
The vineyard looks great and the vines are healthy with a good canopy. They managed to avoid freezes (see their prior post about the all night heroics on April 15!) and hail so far this year, so we are getting excited about the potential for this year's crop!
The vineyard is located northwest of Mason and we hope to get about 3 tons of fruit from them this year. Fingers crossed for a continued good growing season!