Viticultural Record2016 Farming Practices
2016 After enduring three successive years of deficient rainfall, the El Niño rains that fell in early 2016 brought relief from the prolonged drought, but lacked the intensity that we had hoped the rainy season would bring. That said, rainfall totals at Vine Hill Ranch returned to normal, recharging subsurface water reserves and topping off our reservoirs.
Temperatures during the winter months were unusually warm, leading to a frost-free period at bud break. The warm temperatures, combined with ample soil moisture, led to exceptional early shoot growth, requiring extensive thinning to ensure adequate air and light into the canopy. Warm weather through the May bloom period allowed our estate vineyard to set a uniform crop with even berry sizes and normal-sized clusters.
Canopy growth remained strong after berry set, with shoots and leaves completely filling the vineyard trellis systems. Extensive canopy management throughout the season achieved an ideal mix of shade and sunlight in the fruit zone, allowing the crop to mature while minimizing the effects of late-coming heat waves.
The month of August saw cooler temperatures prevail, which slowed the maturation process. The grapes developed complexity through a prolonged growing season that culminated in October, which brought warm and dry conditions ideal for bringing in the 2016 harvest.
In the field, we completed grafting a portion of our hillside Block 6. We also continued eliminating virus vines throughout older plantings in an effort to steward those blocks forward for another 10-20 years. 2016 also delivered our highly anticipated—and first meaningful crop—from hillside Block 1, a pre-prohibition vineyard site that we redeveloped in 2012.