Viticultural Record2015 Farming Practices
2015 On the heels of the celebrated 2012, 2013 and 2014 growing seasons, 2015 followed suit. Though considerable rainfall was delivered in December 2014, warm and dry conditions throughout the balance of the rainy season resulted in early bud-break at Vine Hill Ranch.
Despite minimal frost pressure through March and April—a critical period for canopy development—cool conditions in May resulted in a prolonged berry set that delivered potential variability to the winegrapes, necessitating a high level of green-thinning to ensure desired uniformity at maturity.
From March 15 to August 15, we logged 2,453 growing degree-days in 2015, compared to 2,223 in 2014, 2,204 in 2013, and 1,973 in 2012. This warmth kept the growing season on an advanced schedule, with our extended harvest seven to ten days earlier than last year. Significant heat in September brought the remaining crop to desired maturity, delivering a low-yield crop of phenomenal quality.
In the field, we grafted our benchland Block 3D to Cabernet Sauvignon and the highly anticipated hillside Block 1 vineyard planting showed a very successful “third leaf.” The redeveloped portion of hillside Block 6 benefited from our viticultural practices, and we anticipate winegrapes of exceptional quality from this remarkable site.
Lastly, 2015 marked the passing of our mother, Alex Phillips. Her father, Bruce Kelham, purchased the Vine Hill Ranch property in 1956, and her passage moves the gift of stewardship from the second to the third generation of our family.