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Introducing Vinnie

With the rain comes the flowers and with the flowers come the allergies, but in the Valley Of The Moon at least the budding vines are a condolence for the sniffles and bleary eyes. The rows upon rows of woody vines, protruding from the earth like an army of twigs, are renewing themselves and along the top of each trellis is the very beginning of a new wine's journey. When I came to the winery for harvest last August the vines were in full swing. Maybe not all of the grapes had yet undergone véraison (the coloring of the berry) but the 2009 crop was already quite mature upon my arrival.

So it was very exciting to find one day that suddenly a tiny layer of green had appeared atop each vine. It is also a remarkable example of how true the "micro-climate" theory really is: Growers and winemakers alike often say that a particular part of a vineyard produces superior grapes to another part only meters away and for that reason divide up a vineyard planted with the same varietal into seperate "blocks" that they feel have a slightly different terroir. While it may be hard to believe, I have to admit that the recent budding of our vineyards in ample evidence to support the idea. I was feeling a little left out because everywhere around us (and I mean up and down the entire valley) the vines were budding out while our vineyard appeared as if it had decided to hibernate for another year entirely. Right across the street our neighbors had vines with almost full leaves on them! Finally our vines came around and now every vine has happily sprouted. Also certain parts of each of our vineyards budded simultaneously while other blocks seemed to lag. Certainly there must be a great diversity of factors why vines that are so close to each other would be on different calendars but considering that they share equal amounts of sunlight it created an interesting puzzle. This set Ryan and I speculating on a range of possibilities such as a difference in elevation or sometimes more outlandish propositions. I suggested that as the sun set the shadow of the peak of the mountain covered one part of the vineyard sooner than the other. I eventually asked Robert what he thought and he attributed the difference not to heat of the surface but of the heat below ground: Our vines are lower than many of our neighbors and as we are situated right next to a wetland there is more water in the soil which keeps the roots cooler.

It has been a great pleasure waking up every day and inspecting the vineyard to see what progress the vines are making. They grow at an incredible pace! I knew that vitis vinifera was a vigorous plant but sometimes I feel like I can actually see it growing. I am beginning to now see the allure of the growing. Incredibly inflorescence (flowering of the vine) seems right around corner although it's not supposed to occur until sometime in May. I'm taking a series of photos of one of the vines so you'll be able to see its growth over the year. The temptation to name it is mounting... I'm thinking Vinnie but I'm open to suggestions! Until next time - Salut!

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