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.
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 Pedro is ready for harvest. Campers rest and are ready too. In early morning light we find the grapes. We share in cutting them from the vine and fill our buckets. Grandfather and granddaughter harvest together. Of course there are breaks and snacks throughout the harvest. But there is work to be done. And we do it together with joy and anticipation of the wine from bunches large and small to come. We rest, share food and feast together. Father and daughter observe the night sky. At the winery, Robbie foot treads the grapes the same day as harvest. The Pedro begins its fermentation on the stems and skins. We send our gratitude to such a fun group!
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.
The Zin on the vine looks classic and fills up the hand. Once again we harvest with joy. Each bunch hand harvested with special care. And FUN was shared by all as we finished the 2021 harvest together. Grapes were loaded in bins and hauled to the winery. Meanwhile there was time for relaxation which led to wine tasting of Condor’s Hope wines. The full moon rose as we enjoyed a feast by Chef Brendan. Followed by music around the campfire. The next morning there was time for a hike to the ridge top for an overview. Meanwhile at the vineyard, winemaker Colin destemmed the grapes and started fermentation. Some of the stems were returned to the soil for enrichment. Now the grapevines rest after a long summer. And we send gratitude to all of the harvesters.