Our overall approach to viticulture can be characterized as “hands-on” or perhaps “manual”. We use our eye to look at the shoot tips to decide when to irrigate with water from our three ponds and do not rely on soil sensors talking to computers as is increasingly common. Our crew makes as many as five walking passes through the vineyards in June and July to remove leaves, laterals, and clusters and to trim the shoots to their desired length. Due to our heavy rainfall in the winter and spring, our vines always have plenty of vigor and it is a primary goal each year to slow the shoot growth well prior to veraison (the time in August when the grapes change color and begin to accumulate sugar). To reduce excess canopy vigor, we employ cover crops and leave extra canes at pruning; the extra canes and the shoots and clusters that grow from them are then dropped once the soils have dried sufficiently and the canopy vigor is put in check well prior to veraison and the start of the ripening season.
To perform all of this work, we employ 15 full-time vineyard workers who work year-round and who are ultimately responsible for the distinctive wines we make. We are not certified “organic” because we prefer to use fungicides that are tailored to kill only mildew and that do not kill our beneficial insects as sulfur alone can do. And we do not use insecticides unless there is a specific problematic outbreak of vine-eating insects, which is quite rare; in that case, we use systemic insecticides that only kill those insects eating on the vines and do not kill the predator insects that keep the insect population naturally in balance. Our entire 85 acres of vines is maintained to have a permanent natural cover crop of local grasses, legumes (clovers), wildflowers and aromatic herbs (tarweed, etc.) that allows the beneficial insect populations to flourish and that prevents soil erosion. Our primary farming objective is to take a long-term perspective and do everything we can to keep not only the vines but our entire mountaintop ecosystem as healthy as possible for as long as possible. We strive to maintain our mountaintop as an Eden where all living things, plants and animals alike, can thrive and be at maximum health.