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  • Winter Solstice – Mother Nature Transitions

     

     

    The quiet and restful time of winter is upon us as Mother Nature transitions to preparing her bed to sleep…the leaves have fallen, the air is cold, the light is low, and the baby bears, mama bears and dancing bears all intuitively begin their quest for slumber. The Sta. Rita Hills wakes up on a cold, early morning with a layer of light frost on the ground, the poplars along our driveway are practically barren and we see our warm breath as we don our down jackets and head out to walk the land.

    Today marks the Winter Solstice, the pivotal time when the sun travels the shortest path through the sky, resulting in the day with the least amount of sunlight and the longest amount of darkness. Derived from the Latin word ‘sol’ meaning ‘sun,’ and ‘sistere’ meaning ‘to stand still,’ the Winter Solstice is a time to pause and rest, reflect and renew…preparing for the return of the light, which gradually lengthens each passing day.

    As many of us are experiencing the frenzy and joy of holiday shopping, travel and celebrations, we move counter to the rhythm of Mother Nature, whose focus is to go inward at this time. Nature knows what she’s doing, and doesn’t get caught up in half-price sales or shipping delays. It’s beautiful to witness the transition of the vines as we walk among the rows – after an intense focus on growth prior to harvest, the vines have exhaled…the fruit and leaves have fallen, and they intuitively prepare to rest.

    Ah…the wonderful activity of sleep. Creatures great and small need sleep this time of year, and some of us are just starting to catch-up after harvest. Just like hibernating bears, the vines have the same natural reaction to the season – in the plant world it’s called going “dormant.” This period of rest is vital to the vines’ health…the slower metabolism during dormancy allows them to stockpile carbohydrates to get through winter and into spring, when they will awaken renewed and ready to grow once again.

    As farmers, our biggest input towards the health of the vines at this time is to nurture the soil, by planting and maintaining a cover crop. Like tucking your child into a cozy bed of warm blankets, we prepare the soil so the vines have the healthiest bed to rest as well. Using a blend of four legumes and one grass to build organic matter into the soil, once the cover crop is planted, we do a rain dance and celebrate when it starts to “look like rain and feel like rain.”

    While the vineyard is settling into a time of rest, there is plenty of activity happening at the winery. We’ve got the fireplace warming up the tasting room, heaters outside on the patio, and many sunny winter days sprinkled in between rain, offering plenty of sunshine to welcome our guests to sip and savor during this cozy and beautiful time.

     

    We wish you a restful and renewing Winter Solstice…and look forward to the return of the light in the new year.

     

     

     

     

     

    In the vineyard – The Art of Pruning

     

    “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” – Michelangelo

     

    As such, every grapevine has a wine inside, and it is our task as winegrowers to discover it. Read along as we take a look at “The Art of Pruning” at Melville, and how this activity is a cornerstone in the quest to create our own masterpiece.

    The growing season begins…as we head into the next growing season, one of the most important ways in which we support Mother Nature and help the vines reach their full potential, is by pruning. A labor-intensive activity (done by hand here at Melville), pruning is a craft that takes years to master. Though it may seem like routine maintenance, pruning is an incredibly significant farming activity whereby the winegrower becomes the artist. Like a writer, sculptor and a painter, the pruner artfully guides the grapevine’s destiny and begins to tell its story.

    Writing the story of wine…come January, the vines are well into their period of dormancy (sleep). After a nice bout of rain, the cover crop has grown full-force providing a nourishing and cozy blanket on the vineyard bed. Once the stems have lignified (become woody), we give the vines their annual “haircut,” and the story for the next vintage begins. If the cover crop is the Preface, then Chapter 1 is Pruning.

    Like a writer, the pruner begins drafting the plot, setting the intention for how the vines will grow. Putting pen to paper, or shears to vine, the pruner makes deliberate choices of when to prune, which canes to cut, which ones remain, how many buds to keep, and more. These elements affect how the vine will grow, the yields and quality of the fruit, and the story of the wine we are able to craft.

    The winegrower as artist…an artist starts with a vision and raw materials. The sculptor has clay, the painter, a palette. Winegrowers have vines, and our vision is quality and purity of wine. When beginning a piece, the artist doesn’t just drop a lump of clay, and say “voila…behold a statue.” It takes time, planning, meticulous tending and an artful eye. Same with pruning.

    It also takes years of trial and error. The winegrower artist constantly takes note of how pruning affects the vines. Changes are made deliberately, and intuitively, based on experience and keen observation. Each season the vineyard canvas is painted anew, and the vines are sculpted to provide optimal support unique to the location, varietal, tendency of the vines, characteristics of the clones and desired output.

    The vineyard canvas...pruning is needed to counter a vine’s propensity for rampant growth – without it, the structure of the plant would weaken and become unable to grow high-quailty fruit. Pruning also allows us to estimate the coming yield. Each cane that remains has a certain number of buds, each bud will grow a shoot, and each shoot will grow about two clusters.

    Our crew executes the task of pruning in an organized yet graceful way – they make it look easy, but it’s not. Working with sharp tools, the nimble hands of the pruner cuts, clears, and refines with precision – and they do it quickly. Smooth like a rhapsody. It takes our crew about two full months working six days a week, nine hours a day, to prune our 120 acres.

    The dance of the pruner…watch the short video below to see one of our pruners in his artful element. Like a choreographed dance, he moves along intuitively, knowing what to cut and discard, quickly and with grace. Imagine many pruning “dancers” sprinkled among the vineyard rows, rhythmically moving along, sculpting the vines, day after day, block after block…

    The Dance of the Pruner

    Thank you for following along in our review of “The Art of Pruning” here at Melville. If you are visiting during the months of January and February, take a look around and you might see our artists working the vinyard canvas.

    What lays ahead in this artful story of wine?

    Chapter 2 is “Bud Break.” Stay tuned! 

     

     

     

     

    Winter Solstice – Mother Nature Transitions

     

     

    The quiet and restful time of winter is upon us as Mother Nature transitions to preparing her bed to sleep…the leaves have fallen, the air is cold, the light is low, and the baby bears, mama bears and dancing bears all intuitively begin their quest for slumber. The Sta. Rita Hills wakes up on a cold, early morning with a layer of light frost on the ground, the poplars along our driveway are practically barren and we see our warm breath as we don our down jackets and head out to walk the land.

    Today marks the Winter Solstice, the pivotal time when the sun travels the shortest path through the sky, resulting in the day with the least amount of sunlight and the longest amount of darkness. Derived from the Latin word ‘sol’ meaning ‘sun,’ and ‘sistere’ meaning ‘to stand still,’ the Winter Solstice is a time to pause and rest, reflect and renew…preparing for the return of the light, which gradually lengthens each passing day.

    As many of us are experiencing the frenzy and joy of holiday shopping, travel and celebrations, we move counter to the rhythm of Mother Nature, whose focus is to go inward at this time. Nature knows what she’s doing, and doesn’t get caught up in half-price sales or shipping delays. It’s beautiful to witness the transition of the vines as we walk among the rows – after an intense focus on growth prior to harvest, the vines have exhaled…the fruit and leaves have fallen, and they intuitively prepare to rest.

    Ah…the wonderful activity of sleep. Creatures great and small need sleep this time of year, and some of us are just starting to catch-up after harvest. Just like hibernating bears, the vines have the same natural reaction to the season – in the plant world it’s called going “dormant.” This period of rest is vital to the vines’ health…the slower metabolism during dormancy allows them to stockpile carbohydrates to get through winter and into spring, when they will awaken renewed and ready to grow once again.

    As farmers, our biggest input towards the health of the vines at this time is to nurture the soil, by planting and maintaining a cover crop. Like tucking your child into a cozy bed of warm blankets, we prepare the soil so the vines have the healthiest bed to rest as well. Using a blend of four legumes and one grass to build organic matter into the soil, once the cover crop is planted, we do a rain dance and celebrate when it starts to “look like rain and feel like rain.”

    While the vineyard is settling into a time of rest, there is plenty of activity happening at the winery. We’ve got the fireplace warming up the tasting room, heaters outside on the patio, and many sunny winter days sprinkled in between rain, offering plenty of sunshine to welcome our guests to sip and savor during this cozy and beautiful time.

     

    We wish you a restful and renewing Winter Solstice…and look forward to the return of the light in the new year.

     

     

     

     

     

    Winter Solstice – Mother Nature Transitions

     

     

    The quiet and restful time of winter is upon us as Mother Nature transitions to preparing her bed to sleep…the leaves have fallen, the air is cold, the light is low, and the baby bears, mama bears and dancing bears all intuitively begin their quest for slumber. The Sta. Rita Hills wakes up on a cold, early morning with a layer of light frost on the ground, the poplars along our driveway are practically barren and we see our warm breath as we don our down jackets and head out to walk the land.

    Today marks the Winter Solstice, the pivotal time when the sun travels the shortest path through the sky, resulting in the day with the least amount of sunlight and the longest amount of darkness. Derived from the Latin word ‘sol’ meaning ‘sun,’ and ‘sistere’ meaning ‘to stand still,’ the Winter Solstice is a time to pause and rest, reflect and renew…preparing for the return of the light, which gradually lengthens each passing day.

    As many of us are experiencing the frenzy and joy of holiday shopping, travel and celebrations, we move counter to the rhythm of Mother Nature, whose focus is to go inward at this time. Nature knows what she’s doing, and doesn’t get caught up in half-price sales or shipping delays. It’s beautiful to witness the transition of the vines as we walk among the rows – after an intense focus on growth prior to harvest, the vines have exhaled…the fruit and leaves have fallen, and they intuitively prepare to rest.

    Ah…the wonderful activity of sleep. Creatures great and small need sleep this time of year, and some of us are just starting to catch-up after harvest. Just like hibernating bears, the vines have the same natural reaction to the season – in the plant world it’s called going “dormant.” This period of rest is vital to the vines’ health…the slower metabolism during dormancy allows them to stockpile carbohydrates to get through winter and into spring, when they will awaken renewed and ready to grow once again.

    As farmers, our biggest input towards the health of the vines at this time is to nurture the soil, by planting and maintaining a cover crop. Like tucking your child into a cozy bed of warm blankets, we prepare the soil so the vines have the healthiest bed to rest as well. Using a blend of four legumes and one grass to build organic matter into the soil, once the cover crop is planted, we do a rain dance and celebrate when it starts to “look like rain and feel like rain.”

    While the vineyard is settling into a time of rest, there is plenty of activity happening at the winery. We’ve got the fireplace warming up the tasting room, heaters outside on the patio, and many sunny winter days sprinkled in between rain, offering plenty of sunshine to welcome our guests to sip and savor during this cozy and beautiful time.

     

    We wish you a restful and renewing Winter Solstice…and look forward to the return of the light in the new year.

     

     

     

     

     

    Winter Solstice – Mother Nature Transitions

     

     

    The quiet and restful time of winter is upon us as Mother Nature transitions to preparing her bed to sleep…the leaves have fallen, the air is cold, the light is low, and the baby bears, mama bears and dancing bears all intuitively begin their quest for slumber. The Sta. Rita Hills wakes up on a cold, early morning with a layer of light frost on the ground, the poplars along our driveway are practically barren and we see our warm breath as we don our down jackets and head out to walk the land.

    Today marks the Winter Solstice, the pivotal time when the sun travels the shortest path through the sky, resulting in the day with the least amount of sunlight and the longest amount of darkness. Derived from the Latin word ‘sol’ meaning ‘sun,’ and ‘sistere’ meaning ‘to stand still,’ the Winter Solstice is a time to pause and rest, reflect and renew…preparing for the return of the light, which gradually lengthens each passing day.

    As many of us are experiencing the frenzy and joy of holiday shopping, travel and celebrations, we move counter to the rhythm of Mother Nature, whose focus is to go inward at this time. Nature knows what she’s doing, and doesn’t get caught up in half-price sales or shipping delays. It’s beautiful to witness the transition of the vines as we walk among the rows – after an intense focus on growth prior to harvest, the vines have exhaled…the fruit and leaves have fallen, and they intuitively prepare to rest.

    Ah…the wonderful activity of sleep. Creatures great and small need sleep this time of year, and some of us are just starting to catch-up after harvest. Just like hibernating bears, the vines have the same natural reaction to the season – in the plant world it’s called going “dormant.” This period of rest is vital to the vines’ health…the slower metabolism during dormancy allows them to stockpile carbohydrates to get through winter and into spring, when they will awaken renewed and ready to grow once again.

    As farmers, our biggest input towards the health of the vines at this time is to nurture the soil, by planting and maintaining a cover crop. Like tucking your child into a cozy bed of warm blankets, we prepare the soil so the vines have the healthiest bed to rest as well. Using a blend of four legumes and one grass to build organic matter into the soil, once the cover crop is planted, we do a rain dance and celebrate when it starts to “look like rain and feel like rain.”

    While the vineyard is settling into a time of rest, there is plenty of activity happening at the winery. We’ve got the fireplace warming up the tasting room, heaters outside on the patio, and many sunny winter days sprinkled in between rain, offering plenty of sunshine to welcome our guests to sip and savor during this cozy and beautiful time.

     

    We wish you a restful and renewing Winter Solstice…and look forward to the return of the light in the new year.