Archive for the ‘Vineyard’ Category


2018 in the Vineyard

by admin ·

Year 10 in the vineyard! It’s fun to see the growth in the spring.

Spring pruning.


Harvest 2015

by admin ·

I’m a bit late writing this. We just got busy with life and the time slips by.
We had a good harvest this year. Mild weather and extra rain this winter combined with a wet spring to increase the early growth and the canopy went a little wild. Our total harvest was 1400lbs. Fruit quality was very good, with pH at 3.7 and Brix @ 22.5. TA=5.5g/l. Summer rains caused us to postpone harvest and drove sugar levels down. Sugar rose up to 25 brix on berries sampled before harvest, and berries were falling off the clusters while harvesting. Its aparent that I still have some uneven ripening, as the final sugar level was 22.5. Even so, the quality seemed very good.
I’ve attached some photos of the process, and would like to thank all who helped!



Canopy management for hot climates

by admin ·

 I thought I’d show the pruning technique I’m trying that I learned from Chano. The idea is to arrange/prune the morning side of the rows so they are vertical, for maximum sunlight exposure. Long canes are placed to overhang the afternoon side of each row, which is the left side of each row in the pictures. The intent is to protect the fruit from the heat of the afternoon.
The first shot is along one row showing a vertical wall of canes on the right side, and a more bushy left side. The next shots show the morning side of all rows, followed by the afternoon side.
I positioned all canes the best I could, then resorted to pruning those that couldn’t be positioned where needed.

The row on the far left was left very long to make up for the fact that there’s no adjacent row to the left.



Harvest 2014

by admin ·

Wine Grape Harvest

Hi All,

This morning, Sunday July 27, 2014, I was up early at 4:30 AM along with 11 other hardy souls to begin the Great Grape Wine Harvest at Brett Cook’s back yard vineyard located in the Oro Valley area of Tucson, Arizona. The 12 grape picker/ harvesters were made up of friends, neighbors and Arizona Wine Makers Club members.

Two Arizona Wine Makers Club members came all the way from Phoenix to participate in the harvest and take home some crushed grapes to make some wine. Of course they had to get up around 3:00 AM for the 2 hour drive from Phoenix to Tucson to arrive in time for the scheduled 6:00 AM harvest start time.

Activities started exactly at 6:00 AM with rolling up the Bird Nets so we could get at the ripe grapes. The grapes were all picked by 8:30 AM and in two and a half hours were ready for crushing and destemming.

Those taking crushed grapes home for pressing took their grape order quantity home with them today to press and start their batch of wine. Since I am fermenting my wine on the skins for 2 weeks and pressing them along with Brett’s grapes, I will have to wait another 2 weeks to press the grapes and start fermenting my wine in glass carboys.

Brett has 50 mature Barbera wine grape vines in his backyard vineyard which have been producing for the last 3 years or so. This year’s harvest netted a total of 876 pounds of harvested wine grapes which compares favorably to previous harvest years production.

Here is the math. 12 harvesters picked 876 pounds in 2 and 1/2 hours.. Average production equaled 73 pounds per person. Each picking pail holds about 25 pounds. So each person picked 3 pails on the average. Total man hours for the harvest were 30. Each one of the 50 vines produced 17.5 pounds of grapes which took just over a half hour each vine to pick. A rule of thumb is that each grape vine should produce enough grapes result in a gallon of finished wine.

I started germinating 33 wine grape vines from cuttings this spring consisting of 5 varieties of wine grapes in my backyard vineyard, two thirds the size of Brett’s vineyard, in the Saddlebrooke area of Tucson. It will take another 3 years at least for the cuttings to grow and mature until I can harvest any grapes. That means that I have to start soon recruiting a lot of friends and neighbors to help me with the harvest. All things being equal I will need 20 man hours to complete my harvest of the 33 grape vines. However, since I have 5 different varieties of grapes planted my production quantity and the timing of the harvest of each variety will vary from the results at Brett’s.

Brett mentored me with some practical hands on lessons on wine grape vine pruning this spring. Today’s mentoring lesson was on harvesting, destemming and pressing along with some advice on grape vine trellis construction. I appreciate all of his advice and help in getting my beginners backyard vineyard into production.

Enjoy the attached photos of today’s Barbera Wine Grape Harvest at Brett’s Place.
It was a fun and satisfying new Adventure.

Rose Crest Vineyards.



June 2014 Update

by admin ·

I added three sets of double-catch wires this year, along with cross-arms. I placed two-foot long cross-arms at the top of the T-Posts, with a pair of wires running across the top. This lets the canes spread wide, allowing more light into the canopy.
A foot below this set, is another set of steel wires, spread about 1 foot apart with a cross-arm. This wire will be used to hold the top of the side-nets. These two wires will be brought closer together when the nets are attached to pinch off the top opening around the canes.
About a foot above the cordon is the last set of wires, made of polyester. These are also set about a foot apart and make it easier to tuck canes between them than steel because of the built-in stretch. They’re also cheaper than steel and come on a smaller spool, so storage is easier. These wires will be left spread apart to hold the sides of the net out from the fruit to make it difficult for birds to peck through to get at the fruit.
One final wire is a few inches above the dripline, to wrap the bottom edge of the net around. This makes it easy to close the net, without interference from the emitters that would occur if I tried to just wrap the net around the drip line wire.
I like the side netting because the openings are smaller than the over-the-top net, and it’s easier to put on and take down.


Harvest 2013

by admin ·

I just measured sugar levels today. The average is about 20 brix. This means it will possibly take another two weeks before the grapes are ready.


New bladder press

by admin ·

I decided to retire the basket press. It’s done a good job, but it was just a bit small. I think it holds about 20 l. This new press is 80 l and works off of household water pressure. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

I thought I’d post a few pictures so folks can see how it’s put together. It arrived with some rust in a few areas, but these were easily removed with a wire brush. The press is made in Slovenia, so it was shipped across the ocean. It is made of 304 SS, which can show some rust in the wrong conditions. It cleaned up nicely.

A few flanges appear to be a lower grade stainless. This is ok with me. A painted base is available, but the company I purchased from doesn’t order them that way. You could probably special order it if you were willing to wait 6 mos.

The hose nipples look a bit thin, but the rest of the components seem stout enough. I like the fact that it comes with a built in regulator. Most of the smaller presses don’t have one and it has to be added later.

I’ll post some photos of it in use, or maybe a video, when the time comes.


The water hose connecting the feed to the basket is armored to protect against cuts. This is a nice touch.

The hose nipple is made of thin metal, I hope it holds up. The valve itself looks to be of medium quality. It’s made in Italy. I’ve seen several posts online about people complaining about the crappy valves on their Italian presses. I think this will hold up if I don’t treat it harshly. Diameter of the valve is marked 1/2″, so it seems likely the threads are a standard size in case I need to replace it.The regulator is adjusted by the brass stem on the left side, just above the gauge.

I don’t have time to play with it today, but I’ll certainly hook it up and test it before it’s time for crush.  :-)





Pruning 2013 Part 2

by admin ·

The weather finally warmed up. Since it’s the first of March, I think the threat of frost at this point is low, so I went ahead and pruned down to 2-bud spurs. I averaged a bit over 2lbs of pruning per vine  when  I took off the long canes (Part 1). According to the 20 + 20 philosophy, I would leave 20 buds for the first pound, and 20 buds for each additinal pound. So, 2lbs would equate to 40 buds. Using 2-bud spurs, that would be 20 spurs, or 10 per side. The 5-6″ spur spacing on my vines only allows about 6-7 spurs per side, but I decided to prune to 2-bud spurs anyway. I’ve been retaining additional spur positions when they are provided so that I can up the bud count and control vigor without increasing the cane density like I would have if I were to go to 3-bud spurs.

As the photo’s show,  I had plenty of growth last year, and lots of canes to choose from this year. The first two photo’s show a before/after sequence. I chose to keep the lower cane at each node as a spur because I want to prevent the height of the spurs from creeping upwards over time. This keeps my fruit in the proper postion relative to the catch wires and makes harvest, leaf-pulling and canopy management much easier the rest of the year.




Finished vine.

Finished Cordon


Pruning 2013

by admin ·

I started thinking about getting ready for spring this weekend and  began pruning in anticipation. It looks like I was a bit premature – wishful thinking I guess. Take a look…

Pruning 2013


Filter media from Critical Process

by admin ·

I uploaded a couple of data sheets for filters from CP that will work in the Enolmatic. They are:
CPGGD1*0NOOO1E6 one micron nom pre filter (I like to use an EP seal, black in color, on the prefilter as an easy indicator for this filter)
$ 41.65 ea
CPFGD*40N0001S6 .45 micron nom final filter (silicone red seal)
$ 62.67 ea


CPGGD1*0N0001E6 one micron nom prefilter
$ 41.65 ea
CPFPS*40N0001S6 .45 micron absolute Polyethersulfone membrane media FDA
$ 100.85 ea

Here’s the data sheets:

FPS pdf Mullhern

FGD data JMC rv


Crush 2012

by admin ·

We harvested around 1000 lbs of Barbera from our little backyard vineyard on 8/3/2012 and crushed them in our small Enoitalia crusher/destemmer. The numbers for this harvest were: pH=3.87 and TA=6.3 g/l Tartaric. Brix was 23 B. After adding 1g/l of Tartaric, ph=3.75. This is a bit high, but I can adjust again after malo-lactic fermentation (MLF) is over. This will reduce malic acid and raise pH. Color is very good, and the must has a nice, fruity aroma and berry taste, typical of Barbera.

Crush 2012

Press 2012



Harvest 2012

by admin ·

We harvested almost 1000 lbs of grapes this Saturday. I’ve been busy managing the fermentation and haven’t had time to post pictures. I hope to do that soon.



Vineyard 2012

by admin ·

I’m a bit late writing this, but I wanted to show how much the vineyard changes in just a few short weeks.

Here’s a “before” shot:

2-24-2012: Winter of 3rd year growth.

I pruned the vines in late February. This took a few days to do all the vines.

2-27-2012: Pruning off last year's growth

Here’s a shot of the vines after I finished:

2-27-2012: 2-bud spurs

We got a surprize late freeze just before bud-break. That’s the worst time, since tender young shoots can be damaged. I don’t have frost-protection sprinklers set up, so I pulled out the BBQ grill and set it up in the middle of the vineyard. I wasn’t sure how it would work, but I thought it was worth a try.

I got up at 2am to light the fire. The temperature was already down to 32. I had to come back out to check on the coals at 4am. By now, there was a small bed of coals still going. I poured on some more briquets and looked around. The thermometer in the vineyad now read 26 at the corner. On the ground, was frost. I could see a region around the grill that was frost-free, extending out about 12 feet away from the grill. It worked better than I expected; I just had to hope for the best.

A week or so later, the new growth was looking just fine.

3-31-2012 New Growth!

This, the fourth year, turned out much better than the previous year. The vines didn’t suffer any frost damage and the weather was cool far into May. Here’s a shot just a few short weeks after bud-break. You can see there’s been quite a bit of growth:


It’s now the end of May, and I had to drop some clusters. I thought I’d let the plant keep all it’s clusters for a while, to slow down the vigor a bit. I thought I’d take all clusters off of any shoot smaller than a #2 pencil and keep only 1 cluster on shoots slightly larger than that. I tried to trim even the fattest shoots to leave only 2 clusters each. It’s tough dropping all this fruit.

As you can see, the clusters I dropped were small and sparse. I filled up the bucket 3 times for the 50 vines.

5-19-2012: 5-gallon Bucket of clusters

Here’s picture before I dropped clusters off of the small laterals:

Clusters before dropping.

And here’s the after shot:

Clusters after dropping


It doesn’t look like I made much of a dent :-).

Next weekend, I need to clean up the straggly canes a bit to keep the aisles open.

5-19-2012: Still growing strong.


Pressing the first harvest of Barbera from my own vines

by admin ·

I thought I’d add some photos of our first pressing this year.

The harvest brought me about 625lbs of grapes, which translated into about 50 gal of must (juice and skins).  I gave some away and ended up with about 30 gal for myself.

The wine is quite tart, since I harvested a bit early to prevent bird damage from causing sour rot to spread to all the clusters. So, I am doing bench-trials to determine the best way to handle this.

Click on any photo to enlarge.


Barbera: Post MLF Update

by admin ·

Malo-lactic fermentation has completed, and I decided to do some testing.
The pH is still high, about 4.1, and the TA measures .52% (5g/l), expressed as tartaric. The TA isn’t bad, but the wine tastes very tart at this point.
I think I need to do a cold stabilization (CS) to drop the k-bitartrate, but I’m not sure how much to add to get the final acidity right.
Some folks have recommended that I just add enough tartaric to drop the pH below 3.6, then do the CS and see what TA and pH I end up with.
I plan to cool a sample of the Barbera to 28F and see how much acid drops out of solution. I can then add tartaric back in to see how much is required to get the TA and pH back in an acceptable range.
This will give me an idea how much tartaric to add to the rest of the batch prior to cold-stabilization so that I end up with the right range. I’ll probably test this out on a second sample before I try it on the whole batch. Things don’t always work according to plan. :-)