Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sierra Foothills/Amador County Veraison Reports and Water Notes: 9 Gables (Plymouth)

Jerry Notestine of Nine GablesVineyard and Winery, Plymouth (Amador County) writes:

No matter how long you have been growing grapes or making wine, you can still be surprised by each season as it develops.  And this season sure points that out.

 I thought the last two years were unique with the wet springs.  Year before last we had so much water we could not get in to spray for weeds prior to bud break.  We stuck two tractors trying. Then when it was dry enough for us to enter we had too much vine growth to spray herbicides.  We chose instead to have crews to come in and hoe the weeds.  Well, that was a waste of money, for the ground was still moist enough that after we spent a lot of money for hoeing the weeds they germinated again! 

This year after bud break we had unseasonal rains risking powdery mildew and bunch rot.  Then the heat was unbelievable.  In 75 years in California  I have very seldom seen the heat that we had this year. 

Just for curiosity I checked sugars on August 19 and my whites are almost ready to pick! In 25 years of growing grapes I have never seen that early of a harvest here in Amador County.

Like a good farmer friend of mine has always said, just about the time you think you have figured Mother Nature out, she takes you to the wood shed.   Sure keeps life interesting. 

Also as a winemaker the grapes look absolutely great.  The vines threw too big of a crop so we had crews dropping some of the fruit to enhance the remainder.  We are looking at a possibly great year for some of the best fruit we have seen.  We will let you know if it turns out as good as it looks.

WATER NOTES:  Here in Shenandoah Valley of Amador County we are fortunate to have a pretty good supply of water.  We also have good water retention inour soil and can dry farm.  We did not water our mature vines  until about a week or two ago and still have not watered some of our older vineyards.  We have some older Mission grape vines which have never seen irrigation since planting (Estimated over 100 years old)  Veraison started about two weeks ago and are either complete are near complete depending on variety.  Also a first for me in 25 years.
A bit of history about the Old Pieroni Ranch of Amador County:
Nine Gables Vineyard and Winery is located on what was once the Old Pieroni Ranch. Antonio & Ester Pieroni immigrated to America in April, 1905 and settled in Amador County. In 1911, Mr. Pieroni and his partners Emilio D'Agostini and Guisepe Guiltieri purchased property which became the D'Agostini Winery. Mr. Pieroni sold his share of the D'Agostini property and subsequently purchased the 120 acre ranch property in the Shenandoah Valley. Mr. Pieroni worked in Plymouth in the Alleghany mine (which ceased operations shortly after World War II). The family lived in Plymouth and commuted to the ranch to get the house ready.
County records indicate the old farm house, which is still standing west of Nine Gables, was built in 1857. The original builder is unknown. Some time after occupying the house, the Pieroni's planted vineyards and walnut trees. The vineyards consisted mostly of Zinfandel and Mission grapes. The Pieroni Winery was constructed across the driveway from the Pieroni ranch house. The crushing and primary fermentation were completed on the first floor and the wine was stored in the basement below. The Pieroni Winery ceased operations sometime before the Second World War.
Over the years, the Old Pieroni Ranch was split into many parcels. The first floor of the Pieroni Winery is now a cabin, the old ranch house has been remodeled several times and many of the walnut trees were removed to plant more grapes. The Mission grapes originally planted in the early 1900's are still growing around the Nine Gables Vineyard and Winery house and tasting room.
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