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THE BEET: news & notes from the ranch

February 2016

From the Vineyard | At the Table

Vineyard pruning is the practice of removing last year’s growth from the vines. We manipulate the vine to give us the fruit quality, quantity, and light environment we want for the growing season. Pruning is the most important vineyard operation all year, because it casts the die for the season’s upcoming crop. We prune to create balance between vine vigor and fruit load. Pruning takes place annually when our vines are “sleeping” (aka the dormant season) and before bud break to promote growth and prevent disease. This timing is important, because all the nutrients have moved to the root from the leaves.

Pruning methods vary based on trellising. We trellis our vines in two different ways: open lyre and bilateral cordon. Therefore, they’re pruned differently too: cane and spur pruning.

Guyot Style Cane Pruning

To get started, scope out all of the shoot growth from last year and choose the four best canes to be laid down as the new fruiting canes. We’re looking for healthy canes that will promote ideal fruit orientation with open clusters, even light (sun and shade) and airflow. Remember, all vines are unique.

Next, remove last year’s fruiting canes with all of the unchosen canes attached.

Cut the length of the new fruiting cane. Typically, this is 8 to 10 buds in length. In a perfect world, each bud will have one shoot with two clusters.

Carefully massage the chosen cane (you’ll hear a little crackle), wrap once around the fruiting wire (bottom wire), and tie down the end.

Move on to the next vine!


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Bilateral Spur Pruning

Look at the prior year’s shoot growth and choose the best oriented canes with the ideal wood diameter (a little bigger than a #2 pencil) and the healthiest looking buds on each spur.

The first bud on each cane is called the basal bud and it has the least amount of fruit. Count 2 clear buds (can fit your pruning shears underneath) above this and cut the cane. Ideally, the remaining clear buds are pointing upright and not crowding each other.

Repeat with every spur on the vine, then move on to the next vine!


At the Table

"Babe, you can't be beet" Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 small red baby beets, skin on
1 C cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 T salt
fresh ground pepper
1 T olive oil
¾ C crema (see recipe below)
¾ C chimichurri (see recipe below)
1 handful seasonal greens
juice from half of a lemon

Crema:
¼ C goat cheese
2 T half & half

Chimichurri:
1 T cilantro, chopped
1/2 C flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 T garlic, chopped
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp LMR red wine vinegar or your favorite red wine vinegar

Directions:
Scrub the beets well under cold water. 

In a medium pot, cover the beets in water, add cider vinegar, bay leaves, garlic & salt and boil until tender and a fork is easily inserted (about 45 min). Carefully strain the beets, then refrigerate to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk the goat cheese and half & half until consistency is smooth. Set aside.

To make chimichurri, mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl and let sit. For best results, marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Place beets between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and gently flatten beets to ½” thick with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a mug.

Coat the bottom of a cast iron pan with olive oil and heat over high heat. Season beets with salt and pepper. Sear for 2 minutes or until charred, turn over and repeat. Remove from heat and set aside.

Toss the greens in fresh lemon juice and olive oil.

To plate, place the crema on the dish, add the beets and drizzle with chimichurri. Garnish with seasonal greens (arugula, beet greens, kale…whatever you like).
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