Springtime in the Vineyard
In our Estate Vineyards
Springtime is a beautiful season on our vineyards, as our vines wake up from their winter dormancy and budbreak occurs. The spring months are also a challenging time of year due to the danger of frost on these tender, young green shoots. We get some cold nights in the Santa Ynez Valley, and if the temperature dips below 36°F (when ice can form) an alarm will alert Steve Beckmen’s cell phone, notifying him to turn on the sprinklers at the Thomas and Judith Beckmen Estate Vineyard. By spraying water over the vineyard, it allows the air around the vine to stay warmer than it naturally would be. On Purisima Mountain Vineyard, however, we have no overhead sprinklers for frost protection.
Managing our weeds and cover crops is an important springtime task. Our beneficial cover crops will be tilled, incorporating the nutritious plant material into the soil. For most of the vineyard’s weeds we use a tractor implement that works between the vines like a knife, going just under the surface of the soil to cut the weeds down. In other areas, where the space between the vines is tight or the vines are too young, our vineyard crew will hand hoe the weeds.
We will start shoot thinning once the vines start to grow. Shoot thinning is removing the unwanted sucker shoots and excess shoots that we do not want on the vine, leaving only the shoots that will be carrying fruit for this year’s harvest. The shoots we keep will then be tucked into the vertical shoot positioning trellis system; we’ll position the shoots between two pairs of wires like a hedge for the vines where appropriate.
Applying BD Preparations
One of the key components to biodynamic farming is applying eight different preparations to our farm. These“preps” are made from herbs, mineral substances, and animal manures, applied to the vineyard and/or the soil in minute doses, similar to homeopathy for humans.
In the spring months, we will spray a manure compost (BD 500) across the vineyard, promoting soil fertility and microbial life. For wetter years when we get a lot of rainfall, we will also use a nettle spray (BD 504). Some vines struggle to pick-up the nutrients they need, and stinging nettle allows them to take up what’s readily available around them.
We are proud to be the fifth largest certified biodynamic vineyard in California. Visit www.demeter-usa.org to learn more about this holistic, proactive approach to farming.
Inside our Winery
During the spring months we begin our assemblage – blending our different lots prior to bottling – for our 2020 red wines, which is a really fun time as a winemaker!
During harvest, we pick and ferment our grapes in small lots, enabling us to capture the individuality of each particular block in both of the vineyards. Each lot is kept in separate barrel programs, so when it comes time to blending, we can take samples from all of the different barrels to create the final blend.
This attention to detail creates wines with more depth and distinct layers of flavor; a certain lot could include anywhere from 1 – 2 barrels to 15 – 20 barrels, which is reflected in the different bottlings of our portfolio.
Visit Our Working Winery Estate
We are safely open for outdoor wine tastings and gazebo reservations by appointment only. The spring and early summer months are a beautiful time to visit our vineyard; the grapevines create a picturesque view as their young shoots continue to grow, and you can see the young grape berries go through the flowering, fruit set, and veraison stages.
We are open for wine tastings and gazebo reservations Thursday — Sunday. You can book your reservation on our website or call us at 805−688−8664 ext. 200. We look forward to seeing you soon!