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Knowledge from Experience

The Complexities of Farming Winegrapes
July 16th, 2017

Knowledge from Experience

We tend to speak of our wines around age. Aging wine is parallel to experience; longevity, depth and character. It is also the impetus to cellaring our wines for seven years prior to release. We prefer a wine with knowledge and wisdom. Just as the dirty hands of a farmer speak true knowledge of farming. I suppose it is true for most professions. I would say farmers more so. You get better at things as seasons and years pass. Much of what good farming means, the experience gives you intuition based on commitment to craft.

Fine winegrowing takes a great deal of skill and awareness. The definition of a viticulturist is the study of wine grape growing; and includes part science part intuition. I love that. Decisions many times must be made within a day, or two. A heat wave for example may mean greater leaf pulling in the canopy or fruit zone, or when to harvest now versus push through the heat and risk possible sun damage or raisining with higher sugar or brix in tank. Much comes into play and is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Albert Einstein once said the only source of knowledge is experience and he was intuitively aware there was a balance between the two. The old adage you must know the rules before you push beyond them hold true to the greatest achievements in the world. The law of relatively is just that and changed physics forever. Justin and I, I will admit -- believe in pushing beyond the boundaries. We strongly believe there is more to learn from our land. Much more.

Our time at Garden Creek Ranch is nearing 55 years. Over a half century in one place. If that’s not experience, I don’t know what is. Our decisions on winegrowing, planting new vineyards or varietals is based on the past, our experience, and our fathers before us. We have come a long way since the 1960s in terms of expertise as an industry in Sonoma County and our own expertise with what and how it grows best on our land.

Six years ago, we replanted a 7-acre vineyard on the ranch. To make the best decision, we studied a great deal, walked many vineyards and talked for hours with other winegrowers. Our decisions of what rootstock, which varietal clones and what spacing, we ultimately trusted our instinct, as we always do. Let’s push this. Go tight. Our youngest vineyard at that time was 33-years old with 6x8 spacing. We are now 3x6. Greater density, lower canopies, less tons and smaller vines.

Winegrowing is taking the complexities in the vineyards and crafting the purity of the place, the purity of the wine, and the knowledge gained from experience guiding you. We speak of our wines as they are a person; our current 7-year old vintage is like a 30-year old. Educated, complex, a great conversationalist with many wild years ahead.
Be proud of your wrinkles.

* We hope that you enjoy this Saturday morning read and look forward to sharing a piece of our world with you every other week.


Knowledge from Experience