As the growing season for the 2018 Vintage is ramping up, we traveled to the High Plains AVA with Doug Reed of Hawk’s Shadow Winery, and visited with our vineyard partners. A brief report from Siboney Cellars, Miguel Lecuona:
Hill Country– On our way to the High Plains we visited Drew Tallent in Mason. We checked on Drew’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, which we harvested last season and plan to follow up again for 2018. Drew’s site is one of the premiere Hill Country vineyards, a sloping terrain with good drainage on granite and quartzite sandstone. Drew has a long history of growing quality grapes for several wineries we admire, including Becker Vineyards and Lewis Wines. We jumped on the opportunity to secure small parcels from relatively young vines so as to get a good read on what is possible from a Hill Country AVA for two of our long term favorite grapes. The Tempranillo looked to be pretty well balanced for fruit production and vine vigor, while the Cabernet shows a bit more fruit blossoms on the vine (which make for a wonderful aroma!). We will monitor that and assess ways to reduce yield so all the fruit has a better opportunity to ripen fully within the growing season.
High Plains – So far, in the High Plains, 2018 has been quite dry, even by High Plains standards, and our vineyard checks confirmed this, particularly between the rows where cover crops have not rooted, and the soil looks quite thirsty! That said, the first part of the spring growing season are favorable for many vineyard blocks, which came through a cold winter and avoided Spring Frosts. Of course all eyes now look to the skies not just for beneficial rains, but for the potential for towering thunderstorms that bring the ever-present threat of hail. Indeed, as soon as we left the High Plains, we encountered a spectacular storm in San Angelo, and rode the lightning all the way back home. So it is touch and go over the ensuing days!
- Narra Vineyards — Our visit with Owner Nikki Narra on May 14-15 confirmed this weather pattern. Happily, vine health and spring blooming look quite nice, progressing on track. While we were there, Nikki and her team were working on nutrient levels, irrigation management, and assessing potential cluster thinning. We discussed the prognosis for 2018 for Viognier, and the potential for two varietals of interest to our expanding program — Sauvignon Blanc, and Tannat. We are encouraged, and know with Nikki we are in strong hands and look forward to visiting her regularly to assess progress
- Lahey Vineyards — we truly admire, and to be honest, are somewhat awestruck, by the size and scale of the operation at Lahey Vineyards. With over 600 acres under vine, and managing more than 2 dozen varietals, Doug Fairbanks is one of the busiest in the industry. We are working with a few blocks at Lahey – Syrah, and Bordeaux Red Varietals. Doug also indicated a very dry spring in his vineyard, and is dodging storms while assessing early growth and blooming.