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Beckmen pmv oak hill

Wintertime Vineyard Update

Posted: Feb 1, 2020

With the vines dor­mant, things look pret­ty qui­et in the vine­yard dur­ing the win­ter, but there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to ensure the qual­i­ty of next year’s vin­tage. One of the major tasks under­tak­en by our vine­yard crew is prun­ing both of our vine­yards. Our prun­ing pro­gram requires that our vine­yard crew pass­es two times through the vine­yard. The ini­tial prun­ing clears out all the tall canes and brush, leav­ing just the two main shoots of the vines. As the weath­er warms, our crews will go back out into the fields a sec­ond time for the crit­i­cal final prune cut. The final prun­ing cut is a very impor­tant task that helps set up the crop size on each vine for the year ahead. Our crews will short­en the num­ber of buds on each vine with the hope that each bud that we leave behind will pro­duce a cou­ple of grape clus­ters come spring.

Beckmen jorge pruning winter 2020
Beckmen pmv syrah estrella clb winter

Some would ques­tion why is it nec­es­sary to make two pass­es instead of one? By delay­ing our final cut for prun­ing, we lessen the time the open cuts are exposed to poten­tial­ly dam­ag­ing bac­te­ria and fun­gi that can infect the wood. While a lot of oth­er fac­tors will deter­mine what our final crop size will be, prun­ing is the first step in set­ting the stage for a suc­cess­ful 2021 vintage.

Beckmen TJ cover crop row

The vine­yard is also extreme­ly green this time of year due to the cov­er crops which we plant in Decem­ber. At Purisi­ma Moun­tain Vine­yard, not every block gets a cov­er crop every year, but it is done now in a rota­tion with a block being plant­ed with cov­er crops every 3 – 5 years depend­ing on the block. When we do not plant a cov­er crop, the nat­ur­al grass­es and oth­er win­ter plants are allowed to grow, pro­mot­ing more diver­si­ty and bring­ing more bio­di­ver­si­ty to the farm. We do this at Thomas and Judith Beck­men Estate Vine­yard by plant­i­ng every oth­er row with cov­er crops each season.

Cov­er crop­ping is an impor­tant part of bio­dy­nam­ic farm­ing as it allows us to pro­vide a nat­ur­al means of fer­til­iza­tion for our soils. Our cov­er crop is a mix of grass and legumes that include climb­ing peas, vetch, and beans. The legumes have nitro­gen fix­ing nod­ules on their root sys­tems which nat­u­ral­ly improves the health of our soil. We will allow these to keep grow­ing until they start to flower.

Purisima Aerial 0014comp
Beckmen TJ cover crop peas1

After flow­er­ing, we will mow each row and then run a disc to incor­po­rate the ben­e­fi­cial, organ­ic plant mate­ri­als into the soils. Oth­er ben­e­fits from cov­er crops are that they help reduce soil ero­sion — espe­cial­ly on the steep slopes at Purisi­ma Moun­tain — and improve soil moisture.

Beckmen pmv march

Wine­mak­ing is a year-round cycle and just because the vines are dor­mant doesn’t mean that we can take a break as wine­grow­ers. So even though things look qui­et, we are already hard at work cre­at­ing the 2021 vintage.

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