As the days pass in a place we have never experienced, we continue with our lives in the vineyards. José Gonzalez, our longtime dedicated employee and man of character, has been with us for 36-years. When I check in with them in the fields, sometimes it’s merely a deep look into each other’s eyes to understand exactly what is without speaking a word. José and his brothers, his son and Miguel work each day starting at 7am, each taking a vine row. Today we are finishing the Chalk Block planted to Cabernet Sauvignon.
Pruning is a meticulous process of which either you spur prune or cane prune. Each have their reasons for quality and management of growth. Our old 51-year old vines in this particular block is a bilateral cordon trained vine with spur pruning. With each method are also greater options for training methods dependent on your appellation and individual ideologies in achieving the greatest flavor quality. Many factors come into play such as climate, varietal, clone and soils. A farmer must remain dedicated to their decisions.
The position of the spur is crucial in the positioning of the cluster where eventually ideal sun exposure and placement is key thus affecting tannin structure, phenolic development and retention of acids to name a few. Wine growing is based on repetition in terms of work yet a wine’s consistency and identity is based on articulate decisions when making the cut of the cane from the previous year. Wine after all, is made in the vineyard. A farmer guides his crew to make the decisions necessary to craft a fine wine.
We value these incredible men, our crew, as family and call them our brothers. We could not achieve the excellence in our wines without their hand labor. It is comforting during these times we are able to count on each other as we have for many decades. The understanding of plant and soil is complicated. Intimate nuances in the depth of a wine grape is not entirely understood until you farm the land yourself for decades and generations. Our crew is much like our gnarly old vines, with years of continuity on our land and full of character.
Place and what lies beneath is your strength. As we tend to do in describing the intimacy of wine, a humans character enters the conversation. Without the traits of depth in a friend, the friendship is dull. It's the depth of character and going deep within the land and soul of the place which give you the greatest pleasure and individuality to a wine. We are lucky our forefather, Jim Miller - Justin's dad, had the foresight to chose our land and acreage as the place he would grow wine grapes. Fifty-seven years ago, he made a very wise decision.
As we experienced during the fires last October, our strength lies in each other and the foundation of our relationship and love for our land. Although life has come to an unprecedented place, we know life will carry on in the vineyard and elsewhere. New growth is upon us with green shoots awakening after many months of dormancy. It feels incredible!
Certain things in life you can count on... a beautiful glass of wine from Garden Creek is one of them.