We all have read stories this year of the drought throughout the west. Well, our dry farmed vineyard experienced it first hand. The 5.4 inches of rain that fell during the rainy season was supplemented by minimal amounts of water from our back up drip irrigation system. The grapevines were short, the grape bunches fewer, and the size of the bunches were small. This is a very important story unfolding throughout California. Our groundwater is not being replenished, nature suffers and heavily irrigated agriculture further depletes our water resources. We watch and wonder how to plan for the future.

In the present, though, we have this year’s harvest story to tell. Although the quantity was very low, the quality is very high. And as always, we gathered community together to harvest the grapes. Every year It is so special to participate in the harvest as we form community and connect with the land.

The Shiraz

First came the Shiraz grapes, ripe to 24 brix and ready for picking on August 29th. From our 360 plants we only harvested 210 pounds (compared to 4250 pounds in 2019). Our neighbors from Quail Springs Permaculture Center and our Cottonwood Canyon neighborhood joined us for a harvest feast and a careful early morning harvest of the grapes. Here’s the story in photos below.

The Pedro Ximénez

Next came our white grape, Pedro Ximénez, a unique dry wine that flourishes in our dry, hot climate. Ready for harvesting at 20.4 brix on September 12th, again folks gathered for a community harvest and feast. Once again the quantity was lower than ‘normal’. In 2019 we harvested 4500 pounds of Pedro. This year our yield was reduced to 900 pounds. Yet the joy of harvesting together, families and friends sharing in touching the land makes all the effort worth it. Here’s the story of the Pedro harvest in photos.

The Zinfandel

Our final and largest harvest took place on September 19th. 70% of our vineyard is Zin varietal which thrives in hot weather in a dry-farmed system like ours. The grapes were prime at 25 brix. Yet, the Zinfandel vines also showed the impact of the drought. In 2019 we harvested 6000 pounds. This year, in contrast, we harvested only 2000 pounds. Yet, as winemaker Colin McNany said, he thinks we are in for some of the best Zin ever. Thank you to all who joined in this community harvest. Here’s their story in photos below.