Spring is an exciting time at our estate vineyards, as the vines wake up from their winter dormancy and new growth begins to flourish. This year was especially stunning due to the record rainfall Santa Barbara County received in the winter months, creating lush cover crops and abundant weeds. Discover what we’re up to in the vineyards and winery this time of year in the video below.
In the Vineyard
The spring months are can be 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, we have no frost protection; the cold air simply settles at the bottom of the vineyard.
With the intense rains we had this winter, we have a lot of cover crops and weeds to contend with. Since we don’t use herbicides on our biodynamic vineyards, we have a lot of work to do! Our beneficial cover crop 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.
Once the vines start to grow, we will start shoot thinning. 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.
In the Winery
We will begin our assemblage – blending our different lots prior to bottling – for our 2018 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 and price points of our portfolio.
Click here to learn more about the four wines released this quarter and watch Steve present each wine – how it was made, its flavors and aromas, surprising fun facts – for the very first time.
Want to see more of our videos? Check out the Beckmen Vineyards YouTube channel to view more videos from our winery and vineyard, as well as videos about our new wine releases.