Pulido Vineyard Management Blog 2014

Covering Camalie, Konrad and Crouse Vineyards on Mount Veeder

By Mark Holler

10/16/14 Picked 1.381 tons of Cab for Adam Webb and ~3 tons of cab for David Tate from Crouse Block 3 in a marathon 10 hour pick due to 3 people not showing up and wasp stings in the first row picked. This was the second to the last pick. Quote Ramon Pulido "We've got to find a better way to make a living." The low point mentally and physically in growing occurs somewhere about 3/4 through the harvest process. I'm done but Ramon still has a ton and a half of cab Franc to bring in from Rubissow.

10/15/14 A couple tenths of an inch of rain this morning, some at midnight the rest at 6:00am. Discovered 25 vines in block C8 at Camalie full of fruit, left behind in the dark yesterday. Another little side effect of night picking. I hope to convince one of the buyers we are picking for tomorrow to take this fruit. Its excellent and perfectly ripe so I am not too worried. Worst case I'll make a little more wine. Got some more invoicing done. A rollup of the Crouse Vineyards performance this year was like Konrad's yield a couple percent down but, grape price increases more than compensated for the lower yield.

10/14/14 Picked 5.09 tons at Camalie for Franciscan this morning before 5:00am. The cold front came in as we were eating buritos for breakfast. Looks like we will do a total of 25 days of picking with picks for two different customers on many days. Fifteen different customers delivered to. Total around 100 tons of fruit. Yield numbers all very close to last year, quality better than last year.

10/13/14 Picked 5.062 tons of cab and 1.859 tons of Merlot at Crouse Vineyards for Karen's wine making. Only Bacchus block is left.

10/12/14 Picked .5214 tons of cab at Camalie Vineyards for my own home making. The Brix in the tank was 28.3 , 3.6pH with dark purple juice after a little punching. Watered back 9%, nice 9 gallon wine bonus. The .613 ton pick from the same block a week earlier came in at 25.9 Brix. This block picked up 2 Brix last week. Today's pick was just the North sides of the vines too whereas the first pick was both sides of the vines. Domaine Chandon has been picking their cab the last 3 days at night. The fruit is ready. We are finishing up most of Crouse tomorrow and the last of Camalie on Tuesday. Only one block left at Crouse after that.

10/8/14 We were able to watch the entire progression of the total Eclipse of the full Moon while we harvested. Photo below is of the moon just as the eclipse is coming to an end. Not bad for an iPhone camera but, there are times when a real camera is required. It was eerie. Harvested ~6.5 tons from Camalie for Franciscan and 1.208 tons from Camalie block C8 for R&W into their 5 gallon bucket brigade. The picture on the right is my half ton Camalie Lot well along in its fermentation.

10/7/14 Harvested 1.755 tons of Merlot from Crouse block 5Merlot for Bob Kugler and All of Cr6 and Cr4upper totalling ~6.3 tons for Karen Crouse this morning. The vineyard princess herself showed up for the pick with donuts, bagels and coffee at 1:00am in the morning with no sleep. She also brought with her a full moon and a couple shooting stars. Here's a picture of her with a little more sleep on another day. Red leaves backlit with morning sunshine indicate fall is near or vines have virus. I prefer the former interpretation. These days we can send samples for DNA analysis to find out which viruses are present. Vineyard owners generally don't want to know. I like to know when I've got a strong head wind to deal with.

Here's Bob Kugler share of the lab report on his Crouse Block 5 Merlot. The Merlot is the 2nd row of the table. Numbers all look solid this year.

Here's another attempt to capture the night pick. I like this one because you can see her headlamp illuminating the grapes as well as the tractor lights on the macrobins full of grapes where the leaves and MOG are removed. If you look very closely you'll notice Bob Kugler's logo spray painted on the back of the Macrobin. What this picture doesn't capture is the steepness and height of the terraces we have to contend with. Mountain farming is not for wimps.

Here is Ramon at right and his crew of 9 harvesting professionals this morning. The smiles are because this was just at the end of picking 8 tons of grapes at Crouse Vineyards. To give you an idea how many grapes that is per person keep in mind that one guy pretty much drives the tractor and another dumps lugs full of grapes into the big bins and picks out MOG. In other words each person picking literally picked a ton of grapes. Well how much is that? Well each lug like the one you see Louis holding holds about 30 lbs of grapes. Divide that into 2000 lbs and you get 66 lugs a piece. To boil it down even further keep in mind that each bunch of grapes weighs about 1/3 lb. which means each lug contains about 90 bunches of grapes. Multiply that by 66 lugs and you see that they each picked about 6000 bunches of grapes this morning for a total of of 50,000 bunches of grapes by the whole group. I don't even want to think about how many bunches of grapes we must have picked in the last week.

The names of these folks from left to right are ?, Louis, Umberto's wife, Umberto not shown(driving tractor at the moment), Rosio hiding with arm up, Claudia, Juan, Angele, Ezekiel AKA Checkae, Michael?, and Ramon, head of Pulido Vineyard Management. This is as good a group of people as you would ever have the opportunity to work with. We watch out for one another and work as a team which is how we stay safe, pick tons of grapes and have some fun at the same time.

I get my fingers sticky too.

10/6/14 Harvested 2.08 tons from Konrad block K2L for Randle Johnson, down 33% from last year and 3.85 tons from Konrad Block K5 for Jason Valenti at Adamvs down 13% from last year, however, the yield per acre was still in our target range of 2.5-3.3 tons/acre.

10/4/14 Harvested 0.613 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon from Camalie Vineyards for my home winemaking, and crushed it. 25.9 Brix initially in the tank and 26.3 the morning after. Looks good. Enjoyable harvest party with 25 people showing up and all doing their part, picking grapes and crushing/picking jacks.

Hot but more importantly dry weather over the last 5 days is advancing ripeness and bringing sugars up both by maturation and dehydration. The humidity change is especially abrupt as shown on the curve below. Also not the Mount Veeder inversion layer weather. Night time temps havn't been below 65 degrees for 5 days. I think this must enable metabolism to continue at night. This unusual twist will likely contribute to the uniqueness of this vintage.


Big 3 days coming up with double picks each night.

10/3/14 LABOR Shortage. Marketta had to bring two people and I had to enlist my two friends visiting the valley from Tennesee to pick just .383 tons of cab from K2U. Randle Johnson came up to gather samples from K2L and found us stretching a block boarder to get a couple hundred extra pounds for Marketta. He was totally cool about it.

Ramon was picking at Rubissow again, 2 people short again. The 6 marathoners left picked 7 tons. Most of the rest of the vineyards are done picking so it should be getting easier to find labor but, we haven't found it so yet.

Konrad Vineyards reached 90F today and Camalie 94F.

10/2/14 Ramon and Crew picked at Rubissow something around 5 tons. Problems with the tractor and the scale at the delivery site made this a frustrating day.

10/1/14 Wednesday early morning picked 4.466 tons from Konrad K6 for Patrick Saboe at the Wine Foundry. Closed deal with Marketta to deliver K2Um fruit for wine later. Will pick early Friday after dawn. My friends from Tenessee Marty and Jane have been drafter to pick due to the labor shortage.

Harvest Schedule 2014
Buyer Block acres tons Yield 2013 Yield 2014 Harvest Date 2014 Harvest Date 2013 Destination boxes



Kugler Dumaine, CR-5 cab. 0.6 1.7685

3.12 tons/acre 12.51 lbs/vine

2.94 tons/acre 11.8 lbs/vine down 6%

Wednesday 9/17/14 Picked

Friday 9/6/13 Kugler Trailer Onsite Macro Bins x5 supplied by Kugler Certified Weighmaster at Kugler's site. Our first night pick. Went well. 25.4 Brix initial in tank
Fontanella K3U, K4U 1.62 3.839 2.55 tons/acre 5.7 lbs./vine 2.36 tons/acre 5.3 lbs./vine down 8% Friday 9/19/14 Picked Friday 9/20/13 Fontanella Winery, Partrick Rd. Fontanella Winery Fontanella Winery

Max Bridge Load 10 tons. 23.7 Brix at Crusher

Criste Duphine Cr-7 0.65 1.178

1.25 tons/acre 4.1 lbs/vine

1.96 tons/acre 6.4 lbs./vine up 56% Saturday 9/20/14 Picked Thursday 9/12/13 408 Eastman Ln. Petaluma

Criste's New Boxes

Camalie Platform Scale. PVM big Flatbed Criste's Forklift
Criste Decatur ,Cr-8 .92 1.055

2.4 tons/acre 8.0 lbs/vine

Partial Block Pick

Saturday 9/20/14 Picked

Saturday 9/14/13 408 Eastman Ln. Petaluma Criste's New Boxes Camalie Platform scale

PVM big Flatbed Criste's Forklift

Pine&Brown Tom Rees K3L .54 1.528 3.16 tons/acre 7.0 lbs/vine. 2.83 tons/acre down 11% Tuesday 9/23/14 Picked Monday 9/30/13

Monticello Winery 4242 Big Ranch Road, Napa.

His boxes His scale Pickup with trailer.
Fontanella K1 .81 1.6085 3.2 tons/acre 7.4 lbs/vine 1.895tons/acre Down 59% Tuesday 9/23/14 Picked Saturday 9/28/13 Fontanella Winery Fontanella Boxes Fontanella Scale PVM big Flatbed.
Marketta K7-Malbec 0.17 .6124

2.0 tons/acre 4.3 lbs/vine

3.52 tons/acre up 76%

Wednesday 9/24/14 Picked

Saturday 9/7/13 Marketta Winery 528 Coombs St. Napa Camalie Box Camalie Scale Pickup Truck Left for half day.
Hutnik Camalie Merlot 0.17 .803 4.5 tons/acre 9.2 lbs/vine 4.7 tons/acre up 4.4% Wednesday 9/24/14 Picked

Tuesday 9/17/13

The Wine Stash 2 Camalie Boxes Wine Stash Scale and forklift. Winemaker will haul in Camalie F350 4WD
Sherman K1E .17 .2865 3.2 tons/acre 7.4 lbs/vine 1.895tons/acre Down 59% Friday 9/26/14 Picked

Friday 9/27/13

Fields Family Winery Lodi. Sherman's boxes Use Camalie scale  
Sherman K2UE .25 .4330 2.6 tons/acre 6.0 lbs/vine Partial block pick Friday 9/26/14 Picked

Friday 9/27/13

Fields Family Winery Lodi. Sherman's boxes Use Camalie scale  


.67 2.785 3.4 tons/acre 7.5 lbs/vine 4.15 tons/acre up 21% Friday 9/26/14 Picked Friday 9/27/13 Fields Family Winery Lodi. Sherman's boxes. Use Camalie scale.

PVM big Flatbed

Hunter K2UW .55 .976 2.6 tons/acre 6.0 lbs/vine Partial Block Pick Friday 9/26/14 Picked Friday 9/27/13 Hunter Farms, Arnold Dr. Sonoma Hunter boxes 2 has scale and Forklift  
Patrick Saboe WineFoundry K6 1.2 4.466 2.94 tons/acre 6.54 lbs./vine 3.72 Tons/acre up 26% Wednesday, October 1 Picked Sunday 10/15/13 21660 8th St. E. Suite A Sonoma His Boxes has scale and Forklift  


    Thursday, Friday, Saturday October 2,3,4

Friday 10/4/13

Marketta K2Um ~.5 0.383     Friday October 3 Picked       Marty and Jane to Pick with me. F350 Pickup.
Holler Camalie Blk3 partial and Carmenere .40

.613T and .097T

2.75 tons/acre Partial Pick Saturday October 4 Picked Saturday 10/5/13 Camalie Cave     Home Winemaking

Valenti, Adamvs

K5 1.4 3.858 3.2tons/acre 6.9 lbs/vine 2.75 tons/acre down 13% Monday October 6. Picked   Adamvs His Boxes Adamvs certified scale. PVM big Flatbed
Johnson K2L .81 2.08 3.86 tons/acre 2.56 tons/acre down 33%

Monday Oct. 6 Picked

Saturday 10/5/13 McPhail winery, Healdsburg off 101 6 Hess Boxes McPhail scale PVM Ford Rental

Cr6 Orleans Cr4 upper half



6.2095 2.5 tons/acre 10.2 lbs/vine 2.43 tons/acre Down 3% Tuesday October 7 Picked Wednesday-10/2/13 Fontanella Winery      
Kugler Tolouse, Cr-5 Merlot 0.34 1.755

4.0 tons/acre 13.6 lbs./vine

  Tuesday October 7 Picked Saturday 9/14/13 Kugler Trailer on Site MacroBins 4 suppied by Kugler Certified Weighmaster at Kugler's site. Night pick 4:00am finish.
Franciscan Camalie, See Franciscan Map.   6.49 Tons     Wednesday October 8 Picked Sunday 10/6/13        
Wood C8 NA 1.208 ~2.91 tons/acre   Wednesday October 8 Picked

Tuesday 10/8/13

Will Pick up Fruit

Use his 125 -5 gallon buckets Has small scale. Pick C8 from west end until all buckets full.
Rubissow Rubissow   ~20     Thursday 10/9-11 Friday, Saturday Monday 10/7/13        
Holler C5A   .5214     Sunday 10/12 Picked         Home Wine

Cr 3,4, Cab

Cr8 merlot

2.1 .25



    Monday 10/12 Picked Wednesday 10/9/13        
Franciscan Camalie, North Sides of middle blocks ~2


3.19 tons/acre   Tuesday 10/13 Picked Thursday,Friday 10/10-11/13        

Bacchus Lower-West

Camalie C8 C.S.




    Thursday 10/14/14 Picked   Barnett Winery Spring Mountain      

Bacchus Upper

~3.1 1.381     Thursday 10/14/14 Picked   2511 Napa Valley corporate Drive Suite 115 Napa     Falcor Winery
Rubissow Cab Franc   ~1.5     Friday 10/15/14          
Totals   46.5 acres 106 Tons 2.35 T/acre              


Vineyard Block Brix 8/14/14 Brix 8/28/14 Brix 9/1/14 Brix 9/6/14 Brix 9/10/14 Brix 9/11/14 Brix 9/12/14 Brix Spot Samples Brix 9/22/14 Brix 9/24/14 4:00pm Brix 9/28/14 1:00pm

Brix 10/4/14 11:00am

Brix 10/8/14 Noon Brix 10/12/14
Crouse Block 3 17.8 Brix 21.2         23.3     25.3        
Crouse Block 4

19.8 Brix



Crouse Block 5 Cab. 21.2 Brix 23.8   25.1 25.8@2:00pm   26.3              
Crouse Block 5 Merlot

19.9 Brix

21.5   22.5 23.3@2:00pm   23.8 9/18/14 Day After Crush 24.9   26.0        
Crouse Block 6 North 19.3 Brix 21.1         23.7     24.9        
Crouse Block 6 South 19.7 Brix           24.6     25.0        
Crouse Block 7 Cab. 19.3 Brix           24.9

9/19/14 4:15pm 24.9

9/20@Crush in Tank 23.7

Crouse Block 8 Merlot 19.7 Brix           25.6

9/19/14 4:15pm 26.0

9/20/14@Crush in Tank 25.5

Crouse Block1L 16.9 Brix 19.3         21.9     22.4     25.8  
Crouse Block 1U Cav.Sauv.   19.6         22.0     22.8     25.5  
Crouse Block1U Pinot Noir 20.0 Brix 21.6   24.3                    
Crouse Block 1U Chardonnay 16.3 Brix 19.1   20.3                    
  8/15/14 8/29/14                        
Konrad K1 20.8 Brix 23.4       25.4     27.1          
Konrad K2U 21.1 Brix 23.8       26.6     27.7   9/29/14 27.6 Brix in tank      
Konrad K2L 19.2 Brix 21.7       23.2     25.5          
Konrad K3U 21.7 Brix 24.3 24.8     27.4   9/19/14 @Crush 23.7            
Konrad K3L 20.2 Brix 22.9       25.3     26.7 9/23/14 in Tank 27.1        
Konrad K4U 21.4 Brix 24.0 25.0     26.5   9/19/14 @Crush 23.7            
Konrad K4L 20.4 Brix 22.9     24.7 24.8     27.8          
Konrad K5 19.7 Brix 22.3       24.4     26.2          
Korad K6 19.0 Brix 21.4       22.9     24.0          
Konrad K7 Malbec 20.1 Brix 23.1     24.3 24.2     24.6 24.5 in Tank        


Camalie Block 1 17.4 Brix 19.8     20.6         9/27/14 9:00am 22.7        
Camalie Carmenere 18.0 Brix 21.1     22.2         9/27/14 9:00am 23.3   24.8, 4.12pH in Tank    
Camalie Block 2 18.1 Brix 20.6     21.8           23.3      
Camalie Block 5A 17.3 Brix 20.1     21.3           22.9      
Camalie 5B 18.3 Brix 20.7     22.9     9/20/14@4:00pm 24.7     24.2 25.9, 3.63 pH in Tank 26.3 next day.   28.7, 3.6 pH in Tank
Camalie Block 8 16.6 Brix 19.6     21.6     9/20/14@4:00pm 23.6     23.6 25.5 by Bill @noon    
Merlot 19.8 Brix 23.3     25.8  

27.8 9/18/14



9/30/14 Tuesday. Rob Hunter shared his analysis results for the K2UW fruit he received. See below.

ID Profile Date Time Brix Titratable Acidity (g/L) Tartaric Acid (g/L) Malic Acid (g/L) pH Potassium (mg/L) Glu/Fru g/L Ammonia (mg/L) Alpha Amino Nitrogen (mg/L)
14CS-MTV Must 9/29/2014 8:13:43 PM 27.6 4.59 3.81 1.97 3.83 1984 301.6 <5 60

We did a yield estimate of the remaining fruit in K2U and found 900-1000 lbs. there. Anyone interested should call me. It will be riper than the adjacent fruit above due to more time on the vine. It should be picked by Saturday at the latest.

9/26/14 Friday Big Pick at Konrad Vineyards. Early morning picked for Sherman/Fields 0.2865 tons from K1, 0.4330 tons from K2UE and 2.785 tons from K4L. Ryan reported that the fruit arrived at his winery in Lodi 3 hours away still at 50F if a little late for his crew to process. After dawn we additionally picked .976 tons for Rob Hunter. See the picking schedule for yields and changes in yield this year relative to last for these blocks.

Afternoon we dodged another bullet. Crazy thuderstorms dropped inches of rain on Browns Valley 5 miles East of us but, barely a few drops at the three vineyards. It was quite a show to watch with lightening and thunder almost continuous. The picture below looks like a tornado but was just concentrated rain and hail. Jeff Fontanella said the rain flooded his crushpad for half an hour.

9/25/14 RAIN DAY. The rain started at 4:00am and as of 7:00am has dropped 0.29 inch on us. The rate was high initially but has tapered off and quit now. If we don't get any more rain from this event we will be in good shape. This is not enough to make the dangerous slippery mud. Here are a couple of U-tube Videos from September 30 of 2013 showing how slippery the ground gets. Truck trying to climb shallow slope. Crawler braking truck slide down hill. We have no interest in doing this again. Below you can see the rain event and a picture of the trailing edge of the storm as it moves to the East past Mount Veeder at 8:52am.

Looks like a down day for the picking crew. We can't marshal a picking crew in 2 hours in the middle of the night if it decides not to rain so we have just decided to take a rain day whether it rains or not. Next scheduled pick is a night pick early Friday morning for Ryan Sherman and Russ Fields.

9/24/14 Morning Picked 0.6124 tons of Konrad K7 Malbec for Marketta up 76% from last year making it the new Most Improved Block mostly due to this being its 4th year. Here is a photo of Marketta's jack sorting line. Why buy a fancy crusher destemmer when you can get your grape grower to help pick jacks. James and I only do this for special customers. Maketta reports that the Malbec reads 24.5 Brix in the tank on 9/25. She is looking for some Cab to blend with it.

Here's a picture of my two favorite things after my wife and kids. My dog Jasper and my Datsun 240Z.

We also picked 0.803 tons of Camalie Merlot for Alex Hutnik at the WineStash. The Merlot yield was up by 4.4%. I wish all the grapes were as easy as this Merlot to grow, dry farmed, produces 4.5 tons/acre consistently with Brix always above 28, early. Only Pulido Vineyard Management provides full service to small consumers of premium fruit like this.

9/24/14 4:00pm BRIX update for Crouse Vineyards. See table below. All of her mainline fruit is now in the 25-26 range probably ready to pick next week. Quite a bit of shrivel in block 6 as you can see in the photo below. The shriveled fruit all has very nice mature cab flavors heading toward raison like flavors.

The interesting block is Block1 Bacchus which is lagging at 22 Brix and change. Ramon and I talked Karen Crouse into letting us farm this block for a second year this year again at our own cost in the hope of making a profit this year or maybe next. It hadn't been farmed for 4 years before we got involved. It has never produced sufficient yield to pay for the farming cost. We fertigated the lower half of this block last year and again this year and the vines have responded in a big way even without any irrigation. The fruit set is odd with lots of second crop and canopy. The yield will be low but will come close to paying for the farming costs at least for the lower half of the block. This block will take most of October to ripen if it ripens sufficiently. It has only gone up .65 Brix over the last 12 days which did include a rain event. This block is our problem child. What it has going for it is that it is big, 7 acres, is mostly on clay soils that hold a lot of water and was replanted with 337 clone in 2002. We are optimistic as are David Tate and Adam Webb who have signed up for fruit from this block this year. This block also looks very pretty from block 6 as you can see below. The shade and more porous volcanic soils in part of the upper half of the block make it a bigger challenge to farm productively.

9/23/14 Night Picked 1.528 Tons from K3L for Tom Rees of Pine and Brown, yield down 11%. Below is the analysis report for his fruit in the tank. Thanks for sharing Tom.






Titratable Acidity (g/L)

Tartaric Acid (g/L)

Malic Acid (g/L)


Potassium (mg/L)

Glu/Fru g/L

Ammonia (mg/L)

Alpha Amino Nitrogen (mg/L)




7:48:19 PM










Here is the testimonial from Tom. "K3L soaked up to 27.1 brix after one night on the skins. I'll send you full analysis when I get it back. Whatever the numbers, I think we hit it pretty close to peak ripeness with the mature mountain CS flavors you describe before they get too raisined and pruny.  I couldn't be happier with the fruit and your outstanding service. Thank you!"

This is what we here at Pulido Vineyard Management live for.

We also picked 1.608 tons from K1 for Jeff Fontanella yield down 39% due to the mildew outbreak in early season. We dropped a lot of fruit from this block including one pass the day before the night pick. This is a focus for improvement next year. It turns out the more temperate conditions this block sees are actually worse for germination of powdery mildew.

9/22/14 BRIX UPDATE for Konrad Vineyards. Average Brix of the blocks at Konrad to be picked this week is 27.3. It's ready both Brix and Flavor wise. K2L is close at 25.5 Brix while K6 has a little further to go from 24.0 Brix today. Hunter tentatively scheduled his K2U fruit for Saturday morning or perhaps Friday morning.

We're harvesting K3L and K1 tomorrow morning before dawn, The Malbec on Wednesday morning and Sherman/Fields' K1, K2UE, K4L on Friday assuming its not too wet to navigate the hills.

9/21/14 Irrigation Shut down at Konrad Vineyards in preparation for harvests this week. It was set for 1.5 gallons per week but is now set to zero for blocks 1-4. Blocks 5 and 6 still have the minimal irrigation going. Forecast shows rain 70% chance late Wednesday night, early Thursday morning. It shouldn't be raining during out Friday morning picking.

9/20/14 Picked 1.178 tons of Cabernet Sauvignon from Crouse Vineyards Block 7 and 1.055 tons of Merlot from Crouse Vineyards Block 8 between 2:00am and 7:00am. The Cab was an especially tough pick due to the dense sprawl and steep slopes. The trellising improvements we made to the Merlot block made it significantly easier even though there was more terrace erosion there. I did see one bandeja go sliding down a 12 ft. terrace but, Louis, our lead mountain goat, climbed down and back up with it never missing a beat. Two folks didn't show up so I got my fill of picking.

Block 7 is now our most improved block this year with a 56% increase in yield. This is counter to the two earlier picks which were down 6% and 8%. Block 7 is uppermost and next to the forest at Crouse and has struggled but apparently my double dose of fertigation and irrigation timers on each row the last two years has finally had an impact. The yield is still only 1.96 tons/acre though. No numbers from the tank yet.

Here are a couple shots of night picking from last night. My iPhone camera is a little underpowered for this kind of challenging low light high contrast photography but does O.K. That's Ramon Pulido himself in the red hat. He is in the middle of the action all the time. Umberto is our master crawler driver day or night. Safety is our first priority.

Here's Ramon weighing and securing the Criste load.

9/19/14 4:14pm SAMPLED BRIX at Crouse, Block 7 Cab and Block 8 Merlot for Joel Criste and got 24.9 and 26 Brix respectively. He decided to go ahead with his pick tomorrow morning. The vines are starting to look a little ragged like they want the growing season to be over. The humidity dropped today significantly which will eliminate some of the dew on the grapes tomorrow.

Here's a weather plot covering the heat wave and the rain that tells the whole story for those oriented toward squiggly lines.

Crouse Block 5 cab at 24.9 Brix , not unlike what you would see at Konrad vineyards now. Camalie is different. .

Below is Crouse Block 8 Merlot. @26 Brix.

9/19 PICKED 3.839 Tons from Konrad Blocks K3U, K4U for Jeff Fontanella starting at 2:00am and finishing at 8:00am. This tonnage is down 8% from last year's number. Add this to the Crouse block 5 Cab being down 6% and one begins to get a picture of the yields being down some this year. Jeff's lot came in at 23.7 Brix this morning after reaching 27 and 26 Brix at the end of the heat wave. The cooler weather, yesterday's rain / high/humidity/dew on the grapes and maybe even the night pick apparently all contributed to a 2+ Brix rollback. However, Jeff's last text "Tastes more like 28 though." The message here it don't assume anything about the Brix of your fruit based on the numbers from last week.

Below is the PVM flatbed and forklift just before it left for Fontanella Winery this morning at 8:00am.

Jason Valenti called and canceled his pick of K5 scheduled for Tuesday. He wants to wait. There are quite a few yellow leaves at Konrad vineyards now with rain forecast for next Wednesday but, then some mid eighties weather after that.

In contrast Tom Rees with K3L is going to hold the line. Here's his thinking: " My sample came in at 25 brix this morning.  I still feel good about picking on Tuesday.  There is a fair amount shrivel on the leafed side, and the yellowing leaves make me want to err on the side of caution as we are going into some potentially squirrely weather next week and beyond." 

9/18/14 RAIN STOPPED as of 7:30am. Cement drying out quickly. Looking good. 8:15am, raining again. 10:00am quit again. Dried out later, just humid, no free water on the grapes.

Jason Valenti called and scheduled the pick of K5 for Tuesday 9/23.

Bob Kugler graciously shared the analysis on the Crouse Block 5 Cab we picked for him yesterday. Brix was 1.4 Brix down from my value taken on the third and hottest day of the heat wave (9:00am). Please use caution using Brix values from the time of the heat wave when making your pick date decisions. Come out and taste and even better take a sample and have it analyzed before you set your date. According to Bob this sample was taken after the fruit sat in the tank for a day.

BOXES. All Grape Buyers, Your Grape Contracts all call for you to deliver Boxes(1/2 ton Macro Bins) to the vineyard for Pulido Vineyard Management to put your fruit into and deliver back to you. You are responsible for getting the boxes to the vineyard before your scheduled pick time. We know this is a pain but, it is the norm and it is written into your contracts. As a service Pulido Vineyard Management offers you the use of its boxes for a rental fee of $50/box, per pick, boxes returned within 3 days. If the boxes are not returned in 3 days or we have to come pick them up for any reason the rental cost is $100/box. This is more to encourage you to bring boxes per contract than it is a service we want to provide. We always have trouble getting our boxes back in a timely fashion. However, we understand that sometimes time runs out and can't get boxes to the site which is when this service makes sense. Others of you are small producers and don't have boxes. In this situation renting boxes may also make sense. They are capital which is used infrequently and take up a lot of space when stored between uses.

9/18/14 RAIN! As of 6:00am the accumulation is less than 0.1" which should not be of consequence unless there is free water on the grapes for 15 hours with the temp at 72F where the fungus germinates quickest. The free water on the grapes leaches a small amount of sugar from the grapes which botrytis needs to germinate. The temp has been lower about 62F during the evening while it has been raining. Technical Reference on Botrytis. Ramon's rule of thumb developed over 38 years on Mt. Veeder is that if the rain is less than 1" there is no problem. I like his rule and have had no data to refute it. In 2011 we had two multiple inch rain events before the botrytis went wild.

9/17/14 The night pick for Bob Kugler went well with 1.7685 tons from Crouse block 5 cab loaded onto a trailer bound for Paso Robles by 4:00am. It was still 65F when we started picking at midnight but, got down to 57F before we were done. We picked this early to enable Bob to get his fruit to Paso Robles, 4 hrs. to the south while still relatively cool. He additionally padded the tops of the bins with dry ice between a couple layers of tarp. Yield was down 6% from last year but is still in the middle of our target range at 2.94 tons/acre. One little problem was a flat tire on the bin trailer we use behind the crawler. The crawler is strong enough to pull a full trailer with both tires flat so there was no impact.

Our success with this pick bodes well for more night picking. The workers seem to like it and our customers do so its close to a no brainer. Next year we'll wonder what took us so long to make the move. Current plan is to start 3-4 hours predawn on Friday to pick Fonanella's K3U and K4U and deliver it a little after dawn. Joel Criste has a ton of cab and a ton of Merlot scheduled to be picked at Crouse on Saturday and Jeff Fontanella just scheduled his K1 tentatively for next Wednesday. Jay Turnipseed was here looking at his Camalie Fruit this morning and Alex Hutnik is coming out for a look at his Camalie Merlot tomorrow.

9/16/14 This year's First Pick will be early tomorrow morning. Today we picked 60 lbs. of Chardonnay, 22.1 Brix, 3.5pH and 153 lbs. of Pinot Noir, 26.8 Brix, 3.4pH. from Crouse Vineyards Block 1. Just practice although I did press out the juice and have 10 gallons of sulfited juice in carboy now.

9/15/14 Kugler pick pulled in to Wednesday due to his concern about the chance of rain. It spreads out our schedule a little which is good for us. Lighting all set and crawler in place. Just need boxes from Bob.

9/14/14 Tom Rees took a Brix reading in K3L and got 25.4 Brix. Fontanella Scheduled K3U, K4U and maybe K1 tentatively for Friday 9/19. Criste schedule Cr7 and Cr8 for Saturday 9/20. Thursday we are picking CR5-cab for Kugler. See detailed schedule below.

9/12/14 Heat wave continues. We are in the third day of it and it is the hottest day yet, 97 F at Camalie. Note lower peak temps at Konrad and warmer nights. Looks like at least two more days to go according to the forecast. Confirmed schedule of our first for this coming Thursday 9/18, Crouse Block 5 cabernet sauvignon. Brix for this block is currently 26.3 and will probably be 27.3 by the pick date.

Brix sampled at Crouse Vineyards showing 23-26 Brix in all the upper blocks. Block 1 is still at 22 Brix. I'm seeing a continued steady advance accelerated by the heat. Irrigation stepped up and a an extra gallon put on per vine at Crouse.

Vineyard Block Brix 8/14/14 Brix 8/28/14 Brix 9/1/14 Brix 9/6/14 Brix 9/10/14 Brix 9/11/14 Brix 9/12/14 Brix in Tank
Crouse Block 3 17.8 Brix 21.2         23.3  
Crouse Block 4

19.8 Brix



Crouse Block 5 Cab. 21.2 Brix 23.8   25.1 25.8@2:00pm   26.3  
Crouse Block 5 Merlot

19.9 Brix

21.5   22.5 23.3@2:00pm   23.8 9/18/14 Day After Crush 24.9
Crouse Block 6 North 19.3 Brix 21.1         23.7  
Crouse Block 6 South 19.7 Brix           24.6  
Crouse Block 7 Cab. 19.3 Brix           24.9 9/19/14 4:15pm 24.9
Crouse Block 8 Merlot 19.7 Brix           25.6 9/19/14 4:15pm 26.0
Crouse Block1L 16.9 Brix 19.3         21.9  
Crouse Block 1U Cav.Sauv.   19.6         22.0  
Crouse Block1U Pinot Noir 20.0 Brix 21.6   24.3        
Crouse Block 1U Chardonnay 16.3 Brix 19.1   20.3        
  8/15/14 8/29/14            
Konrad K1 20.8 Brix 23.4       25.4    
Konrad K2U 21.1 Brix 23.8       26.6    
Konrad K2L 19.2 Brix 21.7       23.2    
Konrad K3U 21.7 Brix 24.3 24.8     27.4   9/19/14 @Crush 23.7
Konrad K3L 20.2 Brix 22.9       25.3    
Konrad K4U 21.4 Brix 24.0 25.0     26.5   9/19/14 @Crush 23.7
Konrad K4L 20.4 Brix 22.9     24.7 24.8    
Konrad K5 19.7 Brix 22.3       24.4    
Korad K6 19.0 Brix 21.4       22.9    
Konrad K7 Malbec 20.1 Brix 23.1     24.3 24.2    


Camalie Block 1 17.4 Brix 19.8     20.6      
Camalie Carmenere 18.0 Brix 21.1     22.2      
Camalie Block 2 18.1 Brix 20.6     21.8      
Camalie Block 5A 17.3 Brix 20.1     21.3      
Camalie 5B 18.3 Brix 20.7     22.9      
Camalie Block 8 16.6 Brix 19.6     21.6      
Merlot 19.8 Brix 23.3     25.8  

27.8 9/18/14


Check out these grape seed colors from the Crouse Block 8 Merlot. Their very close to being ready to pick at 25.6 Brix today.

Almost stepped on a baby rattle snake in the dark last night at the base of some stairs. I am surprised I noticed it at all. This is a flash picture.

Sorry Karen.

I thought I had extra fruit to sell from Crouse Block 1 but after realizing I was selling the last 1.5 tons of 7 tons based on 3 or 4 bunch counts I went back and did a more thorough sampling including weighing of all bunches cut from a vine with the typical bunch count of 20. The actual number of bunches I cut was 30 but their weight was only 3.1 oz. on average rather than the 4.5 oz I had thought was conservative. As a result my estimate for block 1L dropped from 5.6 tons to 3.9 tons. Ramon had told me he thought my original estimate was too high. Here's a picture of the bunches and the scale.

Picture of the day: Crouse Block 1 (Bacchus) with blocks 4 and 8 in the distance. Jasper catching some shade as it was already hot there at 10:00am.

9/11/14 Brix sampled at Konrad Vineyards starting at 8:30am ending at 10:00am. See the table below. The new Brix leader is K3U with 27.4 Brix. Below are two photos of the K3U fruit. You can see that it isn't particularly dimpled or dehydrated though it is to some degree. On the right you can see the seed colors. The dimpled fruit is showing the mature flavors we expect with the cab but the rest still could mature some more. I increased irrigation times for all blocks from 2 hours to 3 hours three times a week for at least the next week which is forecast to have highs in the 90s.

Weird panorama of Domaine Chandon Reservoir with dog moving around during the iphone scan. You can see we are getting close to the end of the season. The Konrad reservoir is in better shape but not by much.

9/10/14 Ryan Sherman and his friend Greg visited and walked their blocks at Konrad Vineyards taking samples. I was there with them and took a couple samples along with samples for all of Camalie. See the Brix table below. The Camalie Merlot has now taken the Brix lead with a value of 25.8 this morning. K3U is actually likely higher but, hasn't been measured for a week. I plan to take Konrad Brix tomorrow from all blocks.

Ryan's Brix numbers from this morning, K1-24, K2-26, K4-25. The Temp today, Wednesday 9/10 peaked at 94F at Camalie and Konrad K1 at 90F. With 4 more days of low to mid 90s highs we have to expect a sugar spike and some significant dehydration. Irrigation has been Steady but, we are seeing water stress in many places. I'll be bumping up doses for the week. Our water supply is good and the earthquake has reportedly freed up a significant amount of additional water so the challenge is only to get it to the vines.

In the afternoon I walked Crouse Block 5 with Signe Zoller, Bob Kugler's Wine maker from Paso Robles. I took samples of the Block 5 Cab and Merlot at 2:00pm, at the peak heat ~93F and got 25.8 and 23.3 respectively, up .75Brix from 4 days earlier in the early morning. There is some significant shrivel evident in the most sun exposed fruit. Nice jammy flavors in that fruit. Signe shared that in Lake county the best grapes came from the vines on the red volcanic soils. Signe worked for Kendall Jackson for 11 years during the early days of rapid growth.

A couple hours later I got a call from Bob Kugler setting a tentative harvest date for the Crouse Block 5 cab, Monday morning September 15. This is the first scheduled pick but, expect more soon.

Below is Camalie Block 2 Old Vine cab now 39 years old. No sign of red blotch or leaf roll viruses here.

Below shows manifestations of Red Blotch at Camalie Vineyards block 3. Signe commented that our red blotch is not nearly as bad as what they are seeing in Paso Robles. The delayed ripening is evident in the Brix numbers. However, keep in mind that this vineyard has still produced solid yield and ripeness for 8 years now except for 2011.

9/9/13 Tom Rees of Pine and Brown sampled his block K3L this morning and got 23.5 Brix. Here is his sampling approach in his own words: "I generally sample lower than most people. I tend to pick fewer front facing berries because I am more interested in physiological ripeness, if that makes any sense". I think his number is a little lower than mine would have been. I plan to measure Brix again probably this Thursday.

The grape market is still heathy. Crouse Bacchus block upper is in contract now and I have two parties interested in the 1.7 ton lot from Bacchus Lower.

9/6/14 Few more Brix numbers today. Crouse Block 5 cab is now at 25.1 and the Merlot at 22.5.

9/3/14 We are officially out of the European Grape Vine Moth Quarantine zone. No need for county paperwork this year. The Moth was no match for our Mount Veeder native species.

9/2/14 Building our harvest schedule, trying to stay ahead of the crush. The table below is from 2013 and is in the process of being modified. 28 picks total. Some will have to be paired up. Book early to get the time slot you want.

Harvest Schedule 2014
Buyer Block acres tons Yield 2013 Harvest Date 2014 Harvest Date 2013 Destination boxes



Kugler Dumaine, CR-5 cab. 0.6 ~2

3.12 tons/acre 12.51 lbs/vine

Monday 9/17/14 Done

Friday 9/6/13 Kugler Truck Onsite Macro Bins x4 supplied by Kugler Certified Weighmaster at Kugler's site. Our first night pick.
Fontanella K3U, K4U 1.62 ~4 2.55 tons/acre 5.7 lbs./vine Friday 9/19/14 Confirmed Friday 9/20/13 Fontanella Winery, Partrick Rd. Fontanella Winery Fontanella Winery Max Bridge Load 10 tons.
Fontanella K1 .81 ~2.5 3.2 tons/acre 7.4 lbs/vine Wednesday 9/24/14 Tentative Saturday 9/28/13 Fontanella Winery Fontanella Boxes Fontanella Scale PVM big Flatbed.
For Sale K7-Malbec 0.17 ~.5

2.0 tons/acre 4.3 lbs/vine

  Saturday 9/7/13     100 lb. scale 25.7 Brix, 3.4pH, 6.5 g/l T.A. Holler's
Criste Duphine Cr-7 0.65 ~1

1.25 tons/acre 4.1 lbs/vine

Saturday 9/20/14 Confirmed Thursday 9/12/13 408 Eastman Ln. Petaluma

Christe's Boxes

Camalie Platform Scale. Camalie F350 Pickup, Christe's Forklift
Criste Decatur ,Cr-8 .92 ~1

2.4 tons/acre 8.0 lbs/vine

Saturday 9/20/14 Saturday 9/14/13 408 Eastman Ln. Petaluma Christe's Boxes Camalie Platform scale

Camalie F350 Pickup, Christe's Forklift

Kugler Tolouse, Cr-5 Merlot 0.34 ~1

4.0 tons/acre 13.6 lbs./vine

  Saturday 9/14/13 Kugler Truck on Site MacroBins x2 suppied by Kugler Camalie Platform Winemaker will haul. Toulouse Fruit left: .95T
Hutnik Camalie Merlot 0.17 ~.75 4.5 tons/acre 9.2 lbs/vine  

Tuesday 9/17/13

The Wine Stash 2 Camalie Boxes 100 lb. scale Winemaker will haul in Camalie F350 4WD
Hunter3 K2UW .55 ~1 2.6 tons/acre 6.0 lbs/vine   Friday 9/27/13 Hunter Farms, Arnold Dr. Sonoma Hunter boxes 2 has scale has forklift.
Sherman K1W .17 ~.5 3.2 tons/acre 7.4 lbs/vine  

Friday 9/27/13

Fields Family Winery Lodi. Sherman's boxes Use Camalie scale  
Sherman K2UE .25 ~.5 2.6 tons/acre 6.0 lbs/vine  

Friday 9/27/13

Fields Family Winery Lodi. Sherman's boxes Use Camalie scale  


.67 ~2.3 3.4 tons/acre 7.5 lbs/vine   Friday 9/27/13 Fields Family Winery Lodi. Sherman's boxes. Use Camalie scale.

PVM big Flatbed

Pine&Brown Jeff Rees K3L .54 1.7075 3.16 tons/acre 7.0 lbs/vine.   Monday 9/30/13

Monticello Winery

His boxes His scale Cargo7000

Cr6 Orleans remainder + fringe Blk4.


4.349 2.5 tons/acre 10.2 lbs/vine   Wednesday-10/2/13 Fontanella Winery      

Valenti, Adamvs

K5 1.4 4.476 3.2tons/acre 6.9 lbs/vine   Thursday 10/3/13 Andretti Winery His Boxes   PVM big Flatbed
Rubissow     ~4    

Friday 10/4/13

Johnson K2L .81 3.126 3.86 tons/acre   Saturday 10/5/13 Healdsburg   ?  
Holler Camalie Blk4 .40 1.1 2.75 tons/acre   Saturday 10/5/13 Camalie Cave     Home Winemaking
            Sunday 10/6/13       Day of Rest
Rubissow Rubissow   ~4     Monday 10/7/13        
Wood C8 ~.45 1.313 ~2.91 tons/acre  

Tuesday 10/8/13

Will Pick up Fruit

Use his 125 -5 gallon buckets Has small scale. Pick C8 from west end until all buckets full.

Cr 3,4, Cab

Cr5,8 merlot

2.1 .25



    Wednesday 10/9/13        
Franciscan Camalie 3.24

6.510+ 3.840=10.35

3.19 tons/acre   Thursday,Friday 10/10-11/13        
Rubissow     ~2    

Sat. 10/12/13

WineFoundry K6 1.2 ~3.5     Sunday 10/15/13        
Tate Bacchus Lower-West   ~3.7              
Bertolucci Bacchus Lower- East   ~1.7              

Bacchus Upper

  ~1.5       2511 Napa Valley corporate Drive Suite 115 Napa     Falcor Winery
Rubissow     ~30    

After Mon. 10/12

Totals     100.2 Tons 46.5 acres            

9/1/14 BRIX 25.0 in Konrad K4U. Flavor still like table grapes, quite a bit of acidity yet, none of that jammy cabernet flavor yet. No dimpling to speak of. Lost the Konrad siphon vacuum and restored it. Irrigated K3U, K4U and K6 1 gallon each vine afterwards in anticipation of another warm day today. Brix went up one whole point in 4 days. Near perfect weather is holding up.

8/29/14 [24.3 BRIX ]Sampled and measured Brix for Camalie and Konrad vineyards. See table below. K3U and K4U have broken into 24 Brix territory already and its still August. We're on the fast track again this year I'm very happy to say. Flavors are coming along nicely but no dimpling or any of the jammy flavors yet aside from a bunch here and there. They taste like good table grapes right now, quite a bit of sugar but still plenty of acidity. It looks like its going to be another great vintage.

8/28/14 I did some Brix sampling at Crouse Vineyards late morning today. The Brix are generally advancing as expected with our near perfect weather. In the two weeks since the last sampling the main Cab block brix values have increased by 1.8-3.4 Brix with an average of 2.5 Brix for the 2 weeks. This translates to 1.25 Brix/week which is very typical. The average Brix for the Crouse Cab blocks not including block 1 is now 22.0. If the Brix advance of 1.25 Brix/week continues the fruit will be at 26 Brix in 3.2 weeks or about September 21.

Crouse Block 5 cab will likely be the first to be picked again this year and because it is 1.8 Brix ahead of the average the same extrapolation indicates that it will reach 26 Brix on September 10th, about 2 weeks from now. Last year it was actually picked on September 6 at 25 Brix and 7.0T.A. probably a little earlier than it should have. I'm testing the hypothesis that in addition to accelerating ripening the red volcanic tuffa that this block grows in produces fruit with a noticeable apple flavor element in the grapes, maybe due to higher Malic content?

Also a little vine counting and yield estimation in Crouse Block 1U. I found that there are 61 Chardonnay vines that will produce about 40 lbs. of fruit and 108 Pinot Noir vines that will produce about 110 lbs. of fruit. Just about enough to do a carboy full in your kitchen.

I also did some yield estimation of the Crouse Block 1U cab since it appears that there is enough there to sell. I counted 10-12 bunches per vine on the West end which is less vigorous and 16-18 bunches on the east end. Bunches are small at 3.2 oz/bunch which is 1/5 lb. as a result I'm estimating 2.2 lbs per vine on the west side and 3.4 lbs/vine on the East end. This translates to a total yield of about 1.3 tons from Crouse Block 1U. Contrast this with 8.43 lbs/vine estimated from Block 1L which we have been fertigating and which has more soil moisture. This is a 3X yield difference between top and bottom of the block. The upper half is actually on the more vigorous 110R rootstock compared to 1103P for the lower half. The upper half is a little ahead in ripening in spite of its low nitrogen and water levels probably due to its lighter cropping. Ramon cropped the upper half lighter, 10-18 clusters per vine compared to 25-35 bunches/vine in the lower half knowing the vines in the upper half would have less energy to ripen fruit. How he came up with the 1U bud count to prune to is pure magic. He just looked at the vines and made the call based on 35 years of Mt. Veeder experience.

I'm listing the block 1U fruit on the NVGG market site and wine business.com. It looks like there will be yield upside from block 1L as well, 5.6 tons rather than 3.5 tons by the current estimate. Our original estimate was very conservative not having harvested any fruit from Crouse Block 1 before.

Here are a few pictures from Crouse Bacchus block 1 upper.

In contrast Bacchus Block Lower where we have been applying fertilizer and water looks like below. The first pictures shows both blocks.

Bacchus Lower.

Bacchus Lower. What a little fertilizer will do. Bacchus, both upper and lower have actually had no water at all except the dose to put on the fertilizer on Bacchus Lower this spring, about 2 gallons/vine.

Crouse Chardonnay, 61 vines at the tree line, top of block, 108 vines of Pinot Noir two rows down in Bacchus Upper.

Vineyard Block Brix 8/14/14 Brix 8/28/14 Brix 9/1/14 9/6/14 9/10/14
Crouse Block 3 17.8 Brix 21.2      
Crouse Block 4

19.8 Brix

Crouse Block 5 Cab. 21.2 Brix 23.8   25.1  
Crouse Block 5 Merlot

19.9 Brix

21.5   22.5  
Crouse Block 6 North 19.3 Brix 21.1      
Crouse Block 6 South 19.7 Brix        
Crouse Block 7 Cab. 19.3 Brix        
Crouse Block 8 Merlot 19.7 Brix        
Crouse Block1L 16.9 Brix 19.3      
Crouse Block 1U Cav.Sauv.   19.6      
Crouse Block1U Pinot Noir 20.0 Brix 21.6   24.3  
Crouse Block 1U Chardonnay 16.3 Brix 19.1   20.3  
  8/15/14 8/29/14      
Konrad K1 20.8 Brix 23.4      
Konrad K2U 21.1 Brix 23.8      
Konrad K2L 19.2 Brix 21.7      
Konrad K3U 21.7 Brix 24.3 24.8    
Konrad K3L 20.2 Brix 22.9      
Konrad K4U 21.4 Brix 24.0 25.0    
Konrad K4L 20.4 Brix 22.9     24.7
Konrad K5 19.7 Brix 22.3      
Korad K6 19.0 Brix 21.4      
Konrad K7 Malbec 20.1 Brix 23.1     24.3


Camalie Block 1 17.4 Brix 19.8     20.6
Camalie Carmenere 18.0 Brix 21.1     22.2
Camalie Block 2 18.1 Brix 20.6     21.8
Camalie Block 5A 17.3 Brix 20.1     21.3
Camalie 5B 18.3 Brix 20.7     22.9
Camalie Block 8 16.6 Brix 19.6     21.6
Merlot 19.8 Brix 23.3     25.8

8/28/14 EarthQuake Damage continues to emerge but still no major disasters.

Below and to the right you can see where the earth cracked and broke the Camalie Block 3 submain. I saw the wetspot from my office window and the neighbor later came over and alerted me. Not a major loss of water. At Konrad Vineyards with rows in the same direction as the main shaking there were several cuts in the drip lines where they are wired to highway stakes.

Network problems related to the earthquake prevented my monitoring system from alerting me to this break. Below you can see when the Earthquake took out the power on Sunday morning after which the network was unreliable and slow until my repair yesterday. This was the reason the blog downloads were so slow. The cause was a faulty ethernet switch. Don't ask me how shaking an ethernet switch causes its outbound bandwidth to degrade and become intermittent. Farming now includes network management.

Below is a broken fill line on a 10,000 gallon poly tank at Strauss vineyards also caused by the earthquake. The tank was empty at the time. This one I discovered in the process of going to the tank to install a wireless tank level monitor. The photo on the right is of a wall between Camalie House and the Cave. Apparently the two masses moved out of phase breaking this connecting wall.

I showed Konrad Vineyards to a potential buyer from the Sonoma Coast on Tuesday. He seems interested and would be a good fit in my opinion. If he buys he would continue selling a portion of the fruit.

Karen's Mount Veeder Magic Vineyards Wine is now the first Mount Veeder Wine on the prestigious Bouchon wine list.

I plan to take Brix samples today and do a little yield analysis.

8/24/14 3:20am EARTHQUAKE 6.0. Never a dull moment growing grapes. People and structures are all fine and even the water systems look good so far. Just a lot of broken glass and wine on the floor including half my wine library. Actually not a lot worse than an average harvest party. We were in Palo Alto at the time and missed all the shaking.

Rock slide along Mt. Veeder Rd. on the way up.

File cabinet without drawer locks is an earthquake hazard.

Pantry had some serious breakage including 2 bottles of smelly fish sauce.


This crack in the sidewalk next to the entry to the house grew a little but, not much.One small crack in a wall in the kitchen but otherwise the structure came through flawlessly. No water leaks in the cement walls which we were very worried about. A ceiling panel had fallen down a month ago which we fixed with a callback to the contractor and some staples. Without out that we probably would have had half the ceiling panels fall down from the second floor ceiling into the great room.


An upside was the emergence of a new spring on the Crouse Property running at about a half gallon a minute just above the level of the road bed on Mt. Veeder Rd. It will be a while before we know if the quake had any deletarious effects on the wells or reservoirs. The Konrad pond level had not dropped noticeably 10 hours after the quake. Fortunately all the reservoirs are 1/2 or more empty which reduced the amount of force the water put on the dams.

8/15/14 Some Cool Photos of Konrad Vineyards' Block K5.

8/14/14 FIRST BRIX numbers taken today from Camalie and Crouse Vineyards starting at 6:30am and ending at 11:30am, Camalie First Crouse Second and Konrad the morning after on 8/15. Konrad Vineyards is leading in maturity as usual averaging around 20.5 Brix. Crouse is in between and Camalie is the slowest with an average around 17.8 Brix. See the table below for specific values by block.

Vineyard Block Brix 8/14/14    
Crouse Block 3 17.8 Brix    
Crouse Block 4

19.8 Brix

Crouse Block 5 Cab. 21.2 Brix    
Crouse Block 5 Merlot

19.9 Brix

Crouse Block 6 North 19.3 Brix    
Crouse Block 6 South 19.7 Brix    
Crouse Block 7 Cab. 19.3 Brix    
Crouse Block 8 Merlot 19.7 Brix    
Crouse Block1L 16.9 Brix    
Crouse Block1U Pinot Noir 20.0 Brix    
Crouse Block 1U Chardonnay 16.3 Brix    
Konrad K1 20.8 Brix    
Konrad K2U 21.1 Brix    
Konrad K2L 19.2 Brix    
Konrad K3U 21.7 Brix    
Konrad K3L 20.2 Brix    
Konrad K4U 21.4 Brix    
Konrad K4L 20.4 Brix    
Konrad K5 19.7 Brix    
Korad K6 19.0 Brix    
Konrad K7 Malbec 20.1 Brix    


Camalie Block 1 17.4 Brix    
Camalie Carmenere 18.0 Brix    
Camalie Block 2 18.1 Brix    
Camalie Block 5A 17.3 Brix    
Camalie 5B 18.3 Brix    
Camalie Block 8 16.6 Brix    
Merlot 19.8 Brix    


Below is the Brix Table from 2013 for reference.

Vineyard Block Brix 8/30/13 9/4/13 9/8/13 6:30pm 9/9/13 10:00am 9/9/13 7:00pm 9/10/13 8:00am 9/11/13 10:00am-12:30pm 9/12/13 2:00pm

9/16/13 7:00pm

9/17/13 6:30am 9/18/13 8:30am-12:30pm 9/26/13 9:00am-12:00 noon
Crouse Block 3 21.9 Brix                   25.7 25.7
Crouse Block 4

22.8 Brix

                  26.2 27.9
Crouse Block 5 Cab. 24.7 Brix 25.7                 Picked  
Crouse Block 5 Merlot

22.8 Brix

      26.5           Picked  
Crouse Block 6 North 22.5 Brix                   26.1 26.0
Crouse Block 6 South 21.5 Brix       24.4           25.2 25.4
Crouse Block 7 Cab. 23.5 Brix        




Post Crush,

25.5 Brix, 3.8pH, 5.2g/l T.A

Crouse Block 8 Merlot 23.3 Brix       26.8           25.3 Half picked 26.2
Konrad K1 22.9 Brix     25.7             26.4 28.2
Konrad Malbec 24.1 Brix                   Picked  
Konrad K2U 23.2 Brix           26.2       28.1 28.6
Konrad K2L 21.4 Brix           24.1       25.3 26.5
Konrad K3U 23.8 Brix     26.8             28.9  
Konrad K3L 22.6 Brix     25.6             26.5 28.3
Konrad K4U 23.7 Brix     27.4         27.7   28.1  
Konrad K4L 23.3 Brix     26.4             27.6 29.1
Konrad K5 22.8 Brix           25.4       26.3 27.7
Korad K6 21.9 Brix           24.2       24.5 25.2


Camalie Block 1 20.4 Brix           23.1       22.9 24.0
Camalie Carmenere 21.4 Brix           23.8       24.3 24.9
Camalie Block 2 20.4 Brix           23.5       23.7 24.4
Camalie Block 5A 19.9 Brix           22.9       23.2 23.5
Camalie 5B 20.3 Brix           24.5       23.7 25.3
Camalie Block 8 20.2 Brix           23.3       23.8 24.6
Merlot 23.7 Brix   28.6       28.1     29.2 Picked  


7/25/14 VERAISON 50-80% now. The Mildew war is over and we have prevailed.

Below Merlot from Crouse Block 5 Tolouse.

Below is Bob Kugler, our newest buyer with his grapes in Crouse Dumaine Block 5 cab and Tolouse Block 5 Merlot. He hails from Palos Verdes and is making his wine in Paso Robles.

Below is some Crouse Dumaine Block 5 Cab. This fruit is on volcanic soil and ripens earlier than most. Ramon has done a good job of opening the canopy more here to get some sun on the fruit.

Below is some Konrad K1 fruit along with Jasper.

Below is a new wireless/ultrasonic pond level sensor by Camalie Networks deployed at the Crouse pond. I installed one in the Konrad pond as well to monitor for siphon faults. Our water situation is still looking good with the Crouse pond yielding more water after the leak fix last winter. Still need to automate the filling of the tank from the pond. We use a tank of water, 5K gallons, every two days now. Which requires a trip to the pump. Made some adjustments to the irrigation times. Less water to the block 8 Merlot and more to Blocks 5 and 6. No water to Bachus which is looking really good.

6/27/14 MILDEW BATTLE Continues but the crop otherwise looks great.

Konrad K1 has sustained some powdery mildew infection for the first time since we started farming it in 2008 but, it is now under control after more extensive leafing and another spray application with a synthetic fungicide to kill the powdery mildew. Below you can see the leafing and the fruit exposure now in K1. Other parts of Konrad vineyards and Camalie show a 1-5% incidence but, Karen's Mt. Veeder Magic continues to keep Crouse Vineyards totally clean. In fact Crouse Vineyards Orleans(6) block is already showing some color.

Below is a picture of some of the worst mildew in K1.

Here is a closer look. This mildew is dead. The mildew is the white dusting on the grapes. The brown speckling is a side effect of the mildew that can be seen on the canes as well as the grapes. It will be hard to see after the grapes change color. Ramon has scheduled another pass over K1 to drop mildewed fruit and fruit out of the main maturity distribution or excessively crowded.

Dr. Konrad wasn't happy either.

Lest you think that all is lost here are some pictures of the good stuff. This picture from K2U.

Below is the Malbec. No mildew at all and very good fruit set unlike the malbec we used to have in K5. Thanks again to Randle Johnson for steering us to this much better Malbec cultivar. 1/2 ton of Malbec still available, $4900/ton. Samples of the 2013 blended with Cab available.

Below K2U, Rob Hunter's fruit.

Below K3L.

Below K5 looking good.

K5 row below. Vigor under control. We have pulled more leaves than usual to deal with the powdery mildew issue. We may see more sunburn but, have not thus far.

K6 below. Always the best looking grapes, Clone 7 cultivar grapes a little bigger than the rest of the vineyard's 337 clone. Unfortunately the wine buyers never get to see the grapes.

At least it was a beautiful day. Unfortunately Powdery Mildew likes the same weather as humans and grapes.

We discovered 3 rows of Pinot Noir at the top of Crouse Vineyards Bacchus block which should yield at least a half ton of fruit. This is going into my personal winemaking program this year with Karen's approval.

6/21/14 MILDEW BATTLE. With the larger than average canopies and near ideal weather conditions for powdery mildew we have increased our spray frequency switched to synthetic fungicide and are pulling leaves at a rapid rate. Below you can see the powdery mildew index. We are observing a berry or two with signs of powdery mildew here and there but, no major outbreak so far.

Here is an example of some aggressive leafing at Camalie. The excellent weather for growing continues to put mass on the grapes at a high rate. Definitely expect an early harvest.

Konrad K6 below top 2 rows 6/11/14.

Camalie Merlot. 6/13/14. I need to go take more photos of grapes for this blog.

The vines have slowed their shoot growth due to most of the soil moisture stored in the soil from last winter being used up now. I have started baseline irrigation of a gallon or two per week at this point. This water is applied in two to three doses per week during the night by irrigation timers.

Lot's of irrigation maintenance and upgrades done to get this working. Installed two new ultrasonic tank level monitors, installed 2 new low pressure timer valves at Crouse block 7 where the head pressure is very low. Replaced 20 ft. of rat chewed black hose in the solar powered siphon primer tank fill system at the Konrad Pond. Still need to replace or install three wireless water meter monitors and a wireless pump control. The new Camalie Networks CS3 system is working phenomenally with impressive range even through the forest and a cost half that of the prior generation.

I have heard about rattle snakes in valve boxes but, this is the first time in 14 years of farming I have actually seen one. Fortunately he moved when I opened the box and I saw him, otherwise I would have opened a valve and got tagged.

Other wildlife encountered includes two deer and a jack rabbit stuck in the Crouse vineyard helping us with our hedging of the old vines there, a young silver fox about the size of a cat that has adopted Camalie house as his territory and of course turkeys everywhere you look.

Still have 3/4 ton of Merlot and a half ton of Malbec available for sale but the 55 tons of Cab are all sold out.

6/7/14 FRUIT IS SET. A great crop is on its way. We are happily ahead of schedule again this year. Check out the Cabernet Sauvignon berry sizes already in the photo below from Camalie taken the first day of June. Expect an early harvest unless climate change suddenly heads cooler for the rest of the summer.

Vigor is on the high side. Holding back on irrigation to limit canopy growth and keep berry sizes down. Only a couple spot irrigations thus far at Camalie block 1, Konrad block K1.

Photos below are from Camalie Block 3. Even our weakest blocks are looking better than they ever have. We have done a little hedging on some narrower rows to get the tractor through to spray for powdery mildew and will have to do more.

Crouse Vineyards PetioleAnalysis taken a little before bloom 5/16/14. This shows that we are slightly low in Boron and Zinc in block Royal which has been addressed with foliar spray in conjunction with our Powdery Mildew program. It also shows that we have been successful in getting the nitrogen levels up in Bacchus block. If you look at the Bacchus block top vs. bottom where we have been applying nitrogen the difference in vigor is profound.

The deer seem to have been more vigorous in their reproduction this year like the vines. Yesterday I was driving down Mt. Veeder Rd. and had to slow for a pair of very young fawns not much bigger than my dog Jasper. Ramon said he saw a deer in Crouse Royal block. With the big canopies it would take a lot of deer to do significant damage at this point. We could actually use their help with the hedging.

Dr. Konrad's vineyard is officially for sale with one written offer in hand and a couple other potential buyers considering it seriously. You could lock in some of the best Cab on the planet with the purchase.

5/16/14 BLOOM 100%, Looking good.

Konrad K1, Cabernet Sauvignon above.

Malbec above. Will produce a lot of fruit unlike the old cultivar we had planted. Thanks to Randle Johnson for guiding us to thid Cultivar.

Neither the short drizzle the other day nor the hot weather seems to have had any negative affect on bloom or fruit set. Looking like a good crop with average to high yield.

Sold the last Cab at Konrad today, block K3L. The half ton of Malbec is still available as is 3/4 ton of Camalie Merlot and maybe some Crouse Cab depending on the fruit set there.

Shoot thinning and suckering was been done before bloom started.

We finished a pass of spray with stylet oil, another pass with wettable sulfur and just finished mowing so the vineyards are picture perfect. No mildew and you could putt between the rows.

Had a deer in the Bacchus block at Crouse do some damage but, some fensing improvements seem to have helped. Had to do some serious poison oak diving to make that happen. The Crouse reservoir leak was not fixed by the work last year. We are reverting to a sump pump to pump the leaking water back into the reservoir, sort of a reverse bilge pump.

Welcome to new buyers, Steve Ryan of the Wine Foundry bought Konrad K6, and Tom Rees owner of Pine and Brown Winery in Napa who bought K3L. David Tate moved over to take block Bacchus over at Crouse Vineyards. Joel Criste bought the block 8 Merlot at Crouse again and picked up the block 7 cab as well.

Sorry for the long gap in the blog, I've been introducing our new CS3 wireless monitoring product this Spring, Half the price of last generation, longer range and all open architecture enabling other folks to use and extend the core architecture.

4/9/14 Since my last report we received another 4" of rain as you can see below which brings us to a total 21 inches for the year which is about half of our normal rainfall but, now even the Strauss reservoir is almost full and we are starting out with the soil at full capacity. We're in good shape and should have minimal impact from the drought. Temps were cool for almost two weeks during the rains but over the last 4 days it has heated up quickly bringing up the powdery mildew index from 0 to 60 in three days. We will do our first sprays shortly. I'm out there doing our Spring fertigations which will be the same doses as last Fall.

Below is Crouse Block 5 old vine on Volcanic Soil.

Crouse Block 6.

Below Camalie Block3 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Below Camalie Merlot Block.

Merlot Vine.

About 3 tons of fruit changed hands at Konrad Vineyards as block K5 moved to a new owner and K6 is now available. I have about 7 tons of Fruit at Crouse to sell yet but, I'm not worried. It appears to be a seller's market.

3/19/14 Here are some more pictures this time of Dr. Konrad's cab rather than Domaine Chandon's Chardonnay which was a test to see if anyone is reading this blog and actually looking at the pictures.

Below is from Konrad K1. Shoots are already 4" long. Don't expect any ripening problems this year. We're off to a fast start. I'm pondering how much fertilizer ro put on. I've been holding back anticipating the need to keep the canopies smaller to reduce water consumption in this a drought year, but our reservoir is full which means we should be able to ripen a full normal crop. Any thoughts you might have, with respect to your block do share.

I have a tentative sale of K5 to one of you now that Arbuckle Vineyards is producing enough fruit for its own needs. The crush report indicates that the price of Napa Cab was up 8.1 % again last year from $5059/ton to $5473/ton. Some years it pays to be a grower.




From K2U looking toward K1's Water Tank landmark.


K5 new shoot. This and above are from 3/19/14. M.H.

3/16/14 Here we go again. Four days in the high 70s has all of the Cab past bud break now and the Powdery Mildew index up to 40 already. Humidity down in the 20-30% range along with the heat is drying everything out quickly. I'm seeing trees dropping new leaves which I haven't seen before. The strong winds we had last week may have contributed some. We have finished our Round-up applications ahead of schedule to beat the bud break. Fortunately it is rare for us to get frost damage even with an early bud break. 

As you know we are in a drought.   We currently have about 17.5” of the 40” of rain we normally get.  The Crouse and Konrad Reservoirs are full but the reservoir I get water from for Camalie is still only 2/3 full.  Another neighbor who shall remain nameless is in even worse shape after a pump failed during the last rain storm which is when we got most of the water to fill the reservoirs.  This is an excellent example of where wireless monitoring could have saved 30% of a vineyard's water supply. We are worried about how much water to expect from the wells.  

If you don't have an evergreen contract expect a call from me shortly. I plan to put any grapes not contracted by mid April on the market. Looking forward to working with you again this year.

Camalie/Konrad/Crouse/ Grower's Blog 2013

Camalie/Konrad Grower's Blog 2012

Camalie Grower's Blog 2010, 2011

Konrad Grower's Blog 2011

Konrad Grower's Blog 2009, 2010

Home Pages: Camalie Konrad Crouse

All photography by Mark Holler. Copyright 2013

Last Updated 8/25/14 M.Holler