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Niner Wine Estates

Wine News
March 20, 2019 | Wine News

Spring in the Vineyard

a photo gallery of the absolutely gorgeous hillsides and a short word from both of our winemakers about how the season is progressing so far

Heart Hill Vineyard with bright green grass, bright blue skies and wispy clouds

After what seems like months of rain, we are seeing the first signs of spring on the Central Coast. This winter specifically has been one for the record books. The season's storms have brought over 20 inches of rain to the Central Coast, and we are currently sitting over where we would expect to be as far as total rainfall for an average year. We are so thankful for what this rainy weather does for the vineyard and for how gorgeous and vibrant the whole Central Coast looks!

Our vineyard team has been hard at work the past few months pruning and we are about 95% finished. This is an important part of winemaking and vineyard management as it sets the tone for the next vintage and determines how many shoots and clusters each vine will provide. We own and farm three vineyards with very different climates, and it is interesting to see the impact that the weather has had on each one during this season.

Jespersen Ranch is located in the Edna Valley where ocean breezes and daily fog creates aclimate perfect for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other cool weather varieties. Heart Hill Vineyard is located in the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles, one of the wettest parts of the appellation and Bootjack Ranch in the Geneseo District is one of the driest, warmest parts of the appellation. 

Purple and green cover crop in between rows

filaree wildflowers are starting to bloom at heart hill vineyard. in 2019 we are working towards100% organic farming at Heart Hill Vineyard!

To get a better idea of what is happening in the vineyard during this time of the year, we asked Winemakers Patrick Muran and Molly Bohlman to give us an inside look at what the past few months have looked like from their perspective and what effect the weather has had on the vineyards and what we can expect to start seeing now that spring is here!

Q&A with Winemaker Molly Bohlman

molly is in charge of Jespersen Ranch and all of the varietals that grow there, including chardonnay, pinot noir, grenache, syrah and more 

1. We love how the vineyards look after all of this rain, but how else has the rain been beneficial this season?

We had a rainy winter, but the winter rain is an absolute necessity. It replenishes the soil, providing water for our cover crops to grow (protecting the soil from erosion as well as adding beneficial nutrients and insects to our ecosystem). The rain also gives the vines enough water to use for several months into the growing season and flushes out accumulated salts in the soil.

2. While we need the rain, it has to make working in the vineyard more difficult. Has this been an obstacle?

The rain hasn't stopped us from working in the vineyard on the few clear days we have had. Our crew has been busy pruning and tying down canes onto the trellis wire to support this year’s fruit from our three estate vineyards. Now that we’re nearing the end of March, the days are getting warmer and we have just started to see bud break at Jespersen Ranch, our cool climate site.

3. Spring is finally here, what does that mean in the vineyard?

Bud break, which marks the official start of the growing season. The first month or more comes with the risk of frost which could damage the tender young shoots. It is an anxious and exciting time in the vineyard and winery as we watch the new shoots grow, order barrels and start bottling our past vintages to make room for the coming one.

Three photos featuring a variety of flowers and butterflies in the vineyard in spring

signs of a happy and balanced spring in the vineyard 

Q&a with winemaker patrick muran

patrick in charge of heart hill vineyard & bootjack ranch and all of the varietals that grow there, including cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, syrah, malbec and more 

1. How would you explain the start to the 2019 season?

Cool and wet has been the theme over the last 3 months. Heart Hill Vineyard was averaging 48 degrees during this period with daytime temperatures in the mid-50s and nighttime temperatures in the high 30s. Our rainwater collection system has been working hard and accumulated over 1 million gallons of rain thus far from November 2018 thru March 2019. The vineyard has been too wet to drive tractors through, so all work in Paso has been on foot with the most time being spent pruning vines, weeding near the trunks of vines and trapping gophers.

2. What effect has the weather had on the vineyard and what are we seeing with the start of Spring ?

The rain that we received has been a light and steady flow which has saturated the soil very well and not caused much erosion at all. The weather has warmed up over the last week and the cover crop is growing like crazy. Spring is showing quite a few of its signs these last few days with bees making a lot of noise in the rosemary outside the winery, birds building their nests and the chickens started laying eggs again, Yahoo! After a cold, wet winter we are looking forward to some sunshine and bud break in the vineyard,  which looks to be just around the corner in Paso Robles.

Rows of vines with bright green grass, bright blue skies and wispy clouds

From top: Heart Hill Vineyard with bright green grass, and wispy clouds; Our Solar Panels on a sunny day; an oak tree in front of vine rows in spring

If you have not been to Paso Robles during the Springtime, now is the time! We're expecting to see even more flowers start to bloom over the next few weeks as the weather warms up the rain saturated landscape. You can see beautiful views from both our tasting room and restaurant but we suggest booking one of our tasting experiences that will put you right into the middle of the gorgeous landscape. These experiences are offered by appointment daily and reservations and more information can be made online here »



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