State of the Estate
Continuum Estate Vineyard Manager
It’s that time of the year again at Continuum Estate when, after rest, relaxation and vacation, the vineyards are beginning to wake up around Pritchard Hill. Budbreak is well along on the Hill now though still behind if compared to the valley floor. All our reservoirs are full, and while the season was not as wet as last year, the rainfall, so far, is typical. In fact, in thinking about the state of the estate, I am reminded that every year, in a way, is a repeat of the previous one.
For me it all begins with the end of harvest, which happens every year without fail. At that moment when the last of the fruit has been picked and delivered to the winery and all is now safely under the care of the wine making team, this is when I find myself dizzy with relief. With a rush I realize; no more worrying about frost, pests, mildew, correct or incorrect irrigation, no more fear of rain next week or anxiety that blazing hot weather is on the horizon. No more wondering if the vineyard crews will show up on time, no more wondering if there is something I missed, is there (was there??) something more I can do to better express this site, something else which would make all the difference in bringing the flavor, concentration and intensity to a higher level. Growing great grapes is very much a full time job and I take it very seriously.
For a few hours after completing harvest, I am confused, not quite believing it’s over, and then ecstatic, knowing it’s all done, that all the fruit is safely in the winery. Then I find myself at the bar having a beer feeling kind of numb with thoughts of “there is absolutely nothing that I have to do tomorrow” crossing my mind. This last’s for a surprisingly long time; anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours and occasionally for a few days. Eventually though I come back to normal, but normal in a post harvest world. This is a sweet time when the need to live the vineyard 24/7 is reduced to 10/7, a window when I can come up for air and re-charge for the next year.
Gradually though, things begin to gear up for the new year with the arrival of winter. Then it’s time for the budgeting meetings, to go over the costs in 2011 and budget effectively for 2012, the planning meetings necessary to evaluate what we can change and improve in our farming operation and the tastings of the new vintage’s unfinished wines to evaluate the prior year’s results. It does not happen quickly but things slowly start to speed up and before I know it, on a day like today, we are fully in bud break and I am back in the loop; tracking the new growth, watching the weather, making the many necessary adjustments to block, row and vine in order to bring greater vitality and health to this mountain estate. I am only at a brisk walk today but soon it will go to a trot and then a gallop which will not end until the last fruit is once again picked and carefully delivered into the hands of our winery team later this fall.