Vineyard Update: Winter Wind Down
Rob Harris, our Director of Vineyard Operations, is absolutely our go-to on anything to do with the growing of grapes. It can certainly be a challenge to track him down, as he spends most of his time caring for the vineyards of the Price Family Vineyard collection, but every month or so Rob carves out some time to share some of his thoughts on the progress of the vines. And we drink up every word..
With harvest behind us, much like the men and women who worked all year in the vineyards, the vines need a time of rest and recuperation from a long growing season and a job well done. As we enjoy fall and look forward to winter, much of the work in the vineyards at this time of year is focused just on that…a combination of repair and restore, and prepare and enable.
A major tenet of good viticulture is post-harvest irrigation and fertilization. Depending on the year and the weather conditions, we will typically continue to give water to the vines for few weeks after the fruit has been harvested. Once the fruit is harvested and no longer on the vine itself, the vines receive their first major signal that seasons are changing. Combined with naturally occurring shorter daylight hours and cooler temperatures, the absence of the fruit shifts the vines’ focus from production and consumption for the present to storage and preparation for the future. Long, deliberate shots of water after the fruit has been harvested can aide the vines in not only triggering these responses, but also help them be the most efficient and complete they can be in the annual biological cycle. Also, depending on the site, the age and health of the vines, and the overall nutrition regime, this is a crucial time to fertilize vineyards and replace the valuable and necessary nutrients they worked so hard all year to use and metabolize in the production of their harvested fruit.
To put this in a human context, we have carb-loaded and hydrated properly, watched our calories and trained hard in preparation for the big race. We ran hard, feel good about our performance, and now that we have crossed the finish line, it is time to eat a big balanced meal and rehydrate, get a good night’s sleep and allow our bodies to rest and recover before we soon start training again for the next race. As we do so, we look to make it a personal best and something we can be proud of once again.
Life in the vineyard, both human and botanical, is very cyclical, with no true beginning or end. While harvest is the culmination of year’s work and most literally a time to reap the fruits of our labor, we operate with a diligence and understanding of the upcoming cycle to ensure the vines, the fruit, and ultimately the wines are what you have come to expect and love from Three Sticks.
-Rob Harris, Director of Vineyard Operations