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As August draws to a close, Alan is busy doing his diligent maintenance in anticipation of the harvest. Currently, he is checking sugar levels in the grapes and says they’re getting close to where he likes them to be. “The C-block Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc will likely be first to get picked,” says Alan. He noted that some blocks were already at 22-23 degrees Brix (25-26 is the desired level). And because of the recent warm weather, our small plot of Syrah may also be picked first.
Meanwhile, in the caves, Alan and his crew are also busy racking. They are currently racking all 2012’s (VIADER, “V”, VIADER Syrah, and DARE by Viader Cabernet Sauvignon) before the rush of harvest to make room for the 2013 wines that will be coming in. He and Delia are also whirling away at making blends. Alan recently racked & blended a small base or preliminary blend of the 2012 VIADER. He says, “It’s showing great right now but we may be adding or revising the blend in the future.” With the estimated bottling date of summer, 2014, he feels there’s time to watch the development of the wine and possibly make some small changes. In addition, he and Delia recently blended the 2012 DARE by Viader Cabernet Sauvignon by Viader and feels it’s going to be a beauty.
That’s the update from the vineyards and cellar at Viader. Please subscribe to our blog and consider contacting us to join our email list so we can keep you posted on our specials, offers and the progress at the winery.
Every summer our winery welcomes a special group of international students who are doing travel research for a Masters in Wine Management from the OIV (L’Organisation de la Vigne et du Vin). OIV is based in Montpelier, France and its academic program literally spans the globe and focuses on all aspects of the wine industry, including marketing, agriculture, tourism, business, vineyard management and winemaking. Following visits to all the major wine-producing regions of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the students then travel to North America.
On a warm sunny morning this August, Janet Viader received a caravan of sixteen students who were just beginning their five- week-long visit in North America visiting wineries and wine establishments on both coasts and Canada. They had been at a handful of establishments in Sonoma and Napa Valley, including Benziger, Hanzell, Robert Mondavi Winery and would be continuing on to Opus One following their visit to VIADER. Starting the tour at the winery crush pad, Janet led the group in a lively discussion and answered a multitude of questions about VIADER’s winemaking style and history, Delia’s story and philosophy, and our family’s strategic plan for the continued success of our small multi-generational winery. Some of the students also come from wine-producing families. The questions were intelligent and direct, and the answers thorough and candid with an emphasis on the sea change in the wine business away from the traditional distribution model and towards more direct business thanks to monumental changes in direct shipping laws.
It’s another exciting week in the vineyard, as we move closer to harvest. We continue our legacy of organic farming, which involves many sustainable practices that help our fruit flourish. One specific vineyard practice includes a unique effort to naturally control any predatory pests in order to maintain a balanced ecological system on the property, which Alan takes great pride in. In this light, he incorporates some amazing strategies, one of which occurred this week: the release of these tiny wasps that control pests by “flying around and laying their eggs into the belly of the host,” says Alan.
These very tiny wasps target the small pest known as vine mealybug to safely and naturally prevent this pest from causing detriment to the vines.
Close to 10,000 of these little beneficiary wasps are released per season. The adult wasps generally live about 2-3 days flying around laying hundreds of eggs in their lifetime. They arrive in small vials and are dispersed by our crew in the vineyard. How do they find their prey? “They fly around and are attracted to the pheromones from the females,” Alan says.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach: IPM is a pest management strategy useful for any farming system especially for organic growers.
It’s just another week in the life of an organic winery, with Alan Viader at the helm. Please keep in touch with us to learn more about news at the vineyard and our various product releases and specials. Coming up to harvest is the busiest and most exciting time at our vineyard. We’d love to have you come for a visit and feel free to ask questions below.
Veraison Full Swing at Viader
We want to keep you posted on the progress in our vineyards this harvest season. We’ll post these talks intermittently up to the harvest to give an inside perspective on the evolution of the season.
“There are tons of things going on this week in the vineyard,” reports Alan Viader, our Winemaker. “Veraison is in full swing with the majority of the vineyard 50% or more along. Veraison is the onset of ripening, officially defined as the change of color of the grapes. Most importantly, it represents the transition from berry growth to berry ripening. It’s a crucial phase in the berry development.
Canopy management is also top of mind at this point in the harvest.
“I am busy checking vineyard canopies to ensure optimal sun exposure during this pivotal point in the season,” says Alan “I’m also monitoring our irrigation and water stress levels using our state of the art sap-flow sensors that measure actual (real-time) water use within the plant itself.” Sap-flow sensors help Alan measure actual water use by the grapevines so he can make reasonable estimates of vine water. It’s a key step in irrigation management.
As the week moves on, Alan also mentions that they’re “starting to mow the grasses and weeds in between the vine rows. It will be our last mowing before harvest,” he says. The purpose is to clean up the rows for the crew at harvest and to minimize competition from weeds for water at the end of the season. “It’s the time of year where I don’t want to have too much stress on the vines.” That’s the official update. Stay tuned for more and for a virtual walk through the property, please see this post with a photo gallery of Viader Vineyards.
Last weekend Delia sat on the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Symposium panel entitled, “The Venerable, the Relatively New & the New,” held at the fabulous Central Coast Wine Classic held in San Luis Obispo. Her panel was held at the magnificent Avila Beach Golf Resort and other members of the panel included her colleagues from Opus One and Spottswoode.
The Central Coast Wine Classic is a four-day celebration of gastronomic indulgences held in San Luis Obispo County. Since 1984, the Classic has welcomed the international community of preeminent vintners, sommeliers, chefs, artists, writers and educators to California’s Central Coast for a weekend of gastronomic celebration. Festivities include the annual soirée at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, symposia, tastings, cooking demonstrations and dinners prepared by celebrity chefs, as well as the Rare & Fine Wine & Lifestyle Auction that benefits local non-profit organizations through the Central Coast Wine Classic Foundation.
Organizers Archie McLaren and Carissa Chappellet, longtime friends of Delia’s, make the event entertaining and it invariably draws a high caliber of the presenters in wine and the culinary arts. This year, Delia had a chance to share stories with her panel attendees about good times past when Viader and Spottswoode shared viticulturist David Abreu and winemaker consultant Tony Soter. She also recalled a memory from back in the 1980′s; a particular Viader auction lot at the annual Napa Valley Wine Auction. It was a map of Napa Valley “drawn on” the body of a beautiful Athena sculpted by a local artist. Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, Delia recalls, perceived the strategic location of Opus One right below the navel while Howell Mountain landing on the right breast with Spring Mountain on the left. The Baroness exclaimed “My dear I knew that the location of Opus One was a good one but I am now realizing that aside from very good it is also (sexy) “hot.” the crowd got a good laugh as they sipped some of the finest wines from Napa Valley.
The Central Coast Wine Classic foundation focuses on specific projects of 501(c)3 non-profit corporations in the San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties whose missions are in the Healing, Performing or Studio Arts. Over the past seven years the Foundation has conferred grants totaling $1,615,943 to 76 such non-profits.
Visit the Central Coast Wine Classic website to learn more, and perhaps you can join Delia next year! Please also subscribe to our blog and come visit us . We’d also like for you to join our email list to stay on top of our new releases and special pre-release offers.