Planting the right clone(s) – particularly with Pinot Noir – in the right place is a necessity for making a whole and seamless wine, but not sufficient. Scores of good decisions and best practices also contribute incrementally throughout the growing season to ultimate quality.
Site is the determining factor in the growing of great wines.
All the characteristics of a given place – including soil, elevation, exposure, slope, and climate – determine how a grape clone or selection will perform there.
Precision farming is hands-on; we touch each vine at least nine times.
The vintage begins with the first pruning cut during winter dormancy. We average six buds per cane and adjust to each individual vine.
We remove suckers early, when the shoots are two inches long, to eliminate doubles.
Shoots are thinned and positioned and trellis wires moved early and often to accommodate winds, particularly in Carneros. Depending on the size of the shoot, we leave one or two clusters.
We thin leaves by hand on the north side of the row to aid airflow.
We remove wings from clusters to prevent uneven ripening.
We make a pass through the vineyard to prevent clusters from touching.
As veraison (when berries soften and color) approaches 95%, we drop green fruit to ensure uniformity.
The vintage ends with a powerful decision – when does the vineyard want to be harvested. We walk each block frequently to track its progress. Once we decide, we hand-pick and hand-sort our fruit.
Water is the ultimate vineyard management tool and the judicious application of water provides the winegrower with a vital tool. Used wisely, water maintains vine health, regulates vigor, assures; continuity of ripening, and prevents dehydration.
Uniform ripeness is essential, and the work must be done early and often.
Unevenly ripened fruit at harvest makes a disjointed wine with both syrupy overripe and green under ripe features. For uniform ripeness, we treat vines on the same soils the same way, recognizing naturally similar units and farming accordingly.
A unit can be a block, sub-block or small part of a sub-block within a single vineyard. We begin at pruning by leaving just enough buds to bring a vine into balance, and we monitor and adjust each vine throughout the growing season. This approach is custom-tailored rather than one-size-fits-all winegrowing.
Attention to detail is crucial, and experience and teamwork pays off.
Kenneth and Anne have made over 15 vintages wines together.