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From the Vineyard

January 2016

We've been busy since harvest!

At the end of 2015 harvest, we removed an old Sauvignon Blanc block from our Rutherford Estate (the photo below is from the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc harvest).

The first step in removing a vineyard is to pull out the posts (we donated ours to ranchers affected by the fire in Lake County to make necessary repairs from fire damage), remove the drip irrigation, any overhead sprinklers and the catch wires (we rolled these up by hand and recycled them).
And then it’s time for the big, bad bulldozers!

Following the vineyard rows, this bulldozer, fitted with a vine pulling tooth, digs 36" underground to remove as many of the roots as possible, while pushing the vines to the left making a neat and tidy pile. After each pass with the bulldozer, our crew then also takes a pass through the block to pick up any roots the bulldozer missed by hand.

Next is the bulldozer with the brush rake. The teeth at the bottom of the rake reach 4-6” under the soil to tease the remaining roots to the top, while pushing the pile of vines out of the block.

Now it’s time for the amendment cocktail! Ours is made of gypsum, limestone and compost (all organic). The amendments are evenly incorporated into the soil with a tractor (shh, don't tell him he's not a bulldozer).

In the next step, we get back to old-school farming and bring out the slip plow. This behemoth is 5’ tall and 12’ long and is attached to the back of a bulldozer. This technology was used back in the 1950’s and is making a comeback. The slip plow rolls the soil by digging 5' under ground, bringing it to the top.

Up next is the 18’ disc. The discs reach 12” into the soil, mixing the new top layer to prepare for new vines.

Finally, the box scraper (a glorified rake) takes a couple passes through the block to level the ground.

After all this hard work, the soil is now 18” higher! Or, as our Agricultural Operations Manager puts it, “We’re breathing the love back into the land.”

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