February 10, 2022 15:21
The other Devil's Gulch wine
It seems the secret is out about our other slightly stealth wine from Mark Pasternak's Devil's Gulch Vineyard in Marin. While we've been making pinot from his vines since the beginning of DG (and Dan even longer than that!), we started getting the chardonnay grapes just the last few years. We originally intended to make only some bubbly from the fruit—ask Dan how that's coming along next time you see him—but decided to carve a bit out for still wine starting in 2017.
With the 2019 vintage, we just wrapped up the wine club allocations, and have only 12 cases remaining to share with you. Our 2019 Devil's Gulch Vineyard Chardonnay is laser-focused, super fresh and bright, just what we want to showcase from this cold coastal site. Citrus radiates from start to finish, beginning with the aromas of Meyer lemon, lemon peel and a beautiful floral note of lemon blossom on the nose. More lively lemon, along with a touch of kiwi and a bit of mango creaminess from the ML and stirred lees, follow in the mouth, before ending in an energizing finish of lemon sourball. Read all about it and secure your supply here:
Low Inventory Alert Reminder - with 3 sold out
Three of the wines we told you about last time are sold out now, but we still have some cases remaining of these low inventory items. Wine Spectator had this to say about the 2018 vintage in Sonoma: "Nearly perfect conditions; full-flavored wines backed by crisp acidity, especially from coastal vineyards."
2018 Azaya Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir
93 points & Cellar Selection, Wine Enthusiast
25 cases left
2018 Devil's Gulch Vineyard Pinot Noir
95 points, Wine Enthusiast
23 cases left
2018 Docker Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir
94 points, Wine Review Online
40 cases left
2018 Emerald Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir
93 points, Wine Spectator
38 cases left
Winter in the vineyards: Pruning
While it may not feel like winter this week in Russian River Valley (today is forecast to hit 80 degrees!), the vines haven't quite awakened from their winter slumber yet. The Dutton Ranch crew is busy getting everything pruned and ready for budbreak and the growing season to begin. We typically see budbreak in mid-March, but if our dry and warm conditions persist, the vines might start unfurling earlier this year.
Pruning focuses the growth of the vine where you want it, and determines how much fruit a vine will have. Each vineyard is different, with the variety of grape, location, fertility of the soil and climate all playing a role in the decision on how best to prune.
For most of our vineyards, Dutton Ranch aims for 2.5 to 4 tons per acre, depending on the vineyard. For 4 tons, the math is 2 bunches per bud and 20 buds per vine for a total of 40 bunches. It takes about 5 bunches to equal a pound, so that gives you 8 pounds per vine. Multiply that by 1,089 vines per acre and you come up with 4 tons per acre.
This assumes all goes according to plan, and each bud does its job of producing 2 bunches, and each of those bunches is full of beautiful, juicy grapes. Of course, this almost never happens, as weather during bloom in May and June affects the set and the ultimate harvest. Not only does it have a direct impact on that year's harvest, it also dictates the following year's crop, since the buds are actually deciding how many bunches and shoots they'll put out the following year at this time as well.
The main types of pruning done in our vineyards are cane, cordon, and head pruning. Cane pruning is used in the cooler areas, as it helps set a better crop in these sites. At pruning time, up to 4 new canes from the previous year are trained onto the wires out to each side of the trunk (2 per side, ideally), to a point midway to the next vine. Each of these canes will have 8 to 10 buds. This is a much more time-consuming pruning process, as you need to make a decision vine by vine on the best canes to keep to create the right shape and fruitfulness.
Pruning before and after: top is cane, bottom is cordon
With cordon pruning, the old wood remains trained on the wires, and the spurs on the arms of the vine are the fruiting wood. The previous year's spur will have produced 2 canes: typically, the lowest of these 2 canes will be used, and pruned down to the lowest 2 buds on it; the higher cane will be cut down below its lowest bud. In this way, a new spur (with 2 buds and 2 bunches per bud) is created each year. Head pruning is basically the same as cordon, but rather than being trained on wires out to the side of the trunk, the canes grow straight up in a more casual form. Our old zinfandel vines at Morelli Lane are head trained.
Whatever method is used, with all pruning, it's all about balance: deciding just the right amount of fruit each vine and vineyard can perfectly ripen.
We hope you have BOTH a Valentine and delicious wine this weekend!
Your friends at DG