Spring Blooms in the Vineyard

Spring at Oliver Winery is an exciting time. Our blooming vines are getting ready to produce clusters of fruit, and right now we are busy setting the stage for the rest of the growing season.

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As each vine begins to flower, we start to see these tiny green clusters (below). They will swell and then burst, revealing their pollen at the tip. The pollen eventually falls back into the flower, and just like that, our favorite little berries will start to form!

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At this point in the growing season, a healthy vine is a hairy vine. We want to see a bunch of these sprout-like clusters (above), which are good indicators of a happy crop and lots of fruit to come.

Stay tuned for more vineyard updates to come throughout the summer and into harvest, and post your questions in the comments!

Chambourcin: Our favorite woody perennial

This photo says it all. Harvest has nearly come to an end. We’re wrapping up the 2012 growing season with a popular grape that has really earned its keep this year. Chambourcin. You know her in two forms: a dry red and a beautiful rosé.

Some notes about Chambourcin from Ross, our assistant vineyard manager. It’s a lovely read, so you should pour yourself a glass of something beforehand.

 I think this year has been a testament to the persistence and adaptability of our favorite woody perennial. The year awakened early with mild temperatures in the spring. Pruning in the warmth was bitter sweet; we enjoyed a break from the biting cold but the warmth woke the vines up early. As the buds began emerging, the promise and beauty of the new growth was mingled with dark foreboding; an early frost would almost certainly kill the new shoots. The frost happened and, although not as bad as it could have been, the damage was disheartening. Would the vines come back and bear fruit? As the year progressed, the vines began to give subtle hints that their sweet berries would grace the vineyard in abundance!

Once clear of the perils of spring, another challenge loomed for the vines and their young fruit. Day after day and week after week passed without rain. The ground dried out and cracked. Grass lost all trace of green and stopped growing (less mowing!). This type of weather being quite unusual for this region, many were watching with great consternation. Tales of failures in other crops prompted a wary eye to be cast across the rows of vines, so recently in danger from the frost. But at the end of the year looking back, we can all be thankful for the persistence of the grape! Not only did the vines make it through, but in response to the hardships the canopies of leaves and graceful tendrils were open to the nourishing sunlight, the salubrious breezes, and the eager harvesters more than ever before. What an amazing year; this will be a vintage to enjoy with thankfulness. Thankfulness that good things come from life’s many pressures.

Ross. Possibly writing poetic things about Chambourcin.
Vineyard staff, loading the lugs

The buds of spring…in March!!

Post by Bernie Parker, Vineyard Manager

Spring has passed us by and we have jumped right into summer! Seven days of record highs in the last eight days have really pushed the buds out more than two weeks earlier than any season since I started at Creekbend Vineyard.  Here are a couple of pictures that Bill Oliver took this week of the Catawba and Chardonnay.

What this means is we have three more weeks to worry about frost!!!  I may have to double up on my blood pressure meds.  The big picture of weather fronts and jet streams is favorable for more mild weather.

Today, March 27th, brought our first threat of a frost and I spent the night babysitting the vines, keys in hand ready to start the Orchard Rite fans, but we got by without any frost.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the growers in Michigan and Ohio who had a more serious possibility of freezing.

So, to quote Bill, “Keep your fingers crossed for no frost during the remainder of Spring.”  I second that!!

FYI- Last year, we posted a video on our YouTube channel about our frost fans and how we use them to protect budding grapevines from potential frost damage. Check it out!

A new way to prune at Creekbend Vineyard

Post by Bernie Parker, Vineyard Manager

It has been a while since my last blog.  We have been busy in the vineyard pruning as well as helping out in production on those really nasty days.  In the vineyard we are happy to have a new piece of equipment that has been a real time saver and reduced the strain on everyone’s shoulders.  As you can see in this video it is a trailer on which the staff rides to prune the vines at about waist high instead of shoulder high.


It also gives everyone a steady pace to work at.  The crew is happy to be out of the mud and snow and we haven’t had any problems with our shoulders.  What a great addition to the vineyard!

Meet Steve Borra- grower of great grapes!

Post by Bill Oliver, Director of Winemaking

Our winemaking philosophy is to create wines that reflect the flavor of perfectly ripe wine grapes. The goal is to make soft, rich, and inviting wines that cry out for another sip and another glass. Fundamentally these flavors are born in the vineyard. We believe that wine is more about the grape grower and less about the winemaker.

Borra Vineyards in Lodi California is one of those growers.  We met Steve Borra years ago.  Wearing cowboy boots and driving an old pickup he gave us a tour of the “ranch.”  Not a steer to be seen on this ranch – just acres of beautifully tended vines. Steve’s passion for grapes is obvious and tasting the wines from his own small winery confirmed his commitment to quality.  We have been buying his grapes ever since.

Steve on the "ranch".

Borra specializes in Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz.  These grapes thrive in Lodi’s very warm summers and reach perfect ripeness even in unusually cool summers – 2011 being one of those.  When we talk about wines exhibiting true varietal character, about exhibiting fresh off the vine flavor, few growers deliver better fruit than Steve Borra.

Our vineyard manager, Bernie Parker, runs Steve's zinfandel grapes through the destemmer/crusher.

Don’t those grapes look delicious? If this photo has your craving Zinfandel, stop by our Tasting Room this weekend. We are pouring tastes and selling the 2009 Zinfandel. Yum!

Canadice, Jupiter, Lakemont, Marquis, Reliance…

Post by Pam Bonin, Marketing Manager

Canadice, Jupiter, Lakemont, Marquis, Reliance….

No, these are not the top 5 baby names of 2011.  They are the names of the tasty table grapes from Creekbend Vineyard. This is the first year we have harvest these delicious grapes and they are now on sale in the tasting room.  These are the best table grapes I have ever tasted!  So fresh, so juicy and so flavorful.  They each have their own unique flavors and you can actually taste the difference.

These won’t last long!  We are expecting to have freshly-picked table grapes for sale on the weekends in the tasting room for the next few weeks.  Just ask a staff member to point you in the right direction!  Each variety is $3.50/lb.

If you are making a special trip out to the winery, just give us a call to make sure we still have some available for sale.