Harvest 2021 – Fire Oak Vineyards

We have much to report on the Harvest of 2021! Barbara is nearly ready to put a bow on all the grapes coming in from our vineyard partners. We will sit down together and get a full rundown soon. Meanwhile, we can happily report that all the fruit from Fire Oak Vineyards is now safely in the cellar! This highlight reel gives you a great idea of the family and community spirit it takes to bring off a sustained hand-harvesting effort. Barbara received the harvest from Shelia Busch at Fire Oak, and we could not be more pleased. And as word reached the vineyard of the passing of Shelia’s mother in the night, family and community worked as one. With love in our hearts, the Infinite Sky overhead, and generations of children and grandchildren present, the harvest flowed. And we will do our very best to honor the effort and moments captured here in what is to follow. We applaud and commend the Busch family and their equally awesome vineyard manager, Adrienne Freeman, for the sustained, meticulous work they led.

Take a look at the harvest highlight reel!

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Fire Oak – New Vineyard Partner in Central Texas

Long before we dared to dream of making it ourselves, we readily understood that wine is really made in the vineyard. We are fortunate to work with top growers like Neal Newsom and Lahey Vineyards in the High Plains. Indeed, your feedback on wines like Quatre Rouges, Solo, Tempranillo is so encouraging. Ditto the upcoming 2019 Merlot Cellar Selection! We also have a custom-farming agreement with a fantastic new High Plains vineyard grower we can’t wait to share with you next month. But today, we would like to introduce our new vineyard partners from Central Texas. And extend a special invite to their harvest festival at the end of July. Siboney looks forward to great fruit from Fire Oak Vineyard for many years.

Fire Oak Vineyard

Fire Oak Vineyard was established in 2017 (coincidentally, our very first vintage!) on a beautiful 30 acre site by Billy and Shelia Busch. Our partners, Bill and Mary Anne Waldrip, introduced us to the Busch family last year. After walking between the rows of their well-managed vineyard plots, we made arrangements to contract the fruit from this unique Texas terroir. Situated on a gentle slope of gravelly loam and clay soil at about 1500 feet elevation, this promising vineyard site is located near Goldthwaite, in Mills County. It’s just about 90 miles north of Siboney Cellars, off Highway 183. The Busch family is a delight. Shelia has boundless energy and enthusiasm, and Billy makes sure they stay well grounded — a perfect Kite-and-String arrangement! We truly admire their strong commitment to expanding the vineyard footprint for Texas wine.

Under the capable on-site management of Adrienne Freeman, with assistance from veteran grower Penny Adams, Fire Oak Vineyard has 15 acres under vine, and 8 varietals. Right in the middle of a relatively cool, wet 2021 growing season, Adrienne reports Verasion is underway. While we are guarded with our forecasts, we know the site is in strong hands. We also know that August can be a difference-maker in the Texas summer! We look forward to the next site visit. Meanwhile, here is a highlight reel from June with Shelia and Adrienne.

Harvest Festival July 31

The Busches host a grand harvest festival and blessing each year. Here is the link to their registration, you’re invited! Scheduled for Saturday July 31, it’s a great day for families of all ages, including a grape stomp, wine blending, vineyard tours and kids activities. Check out the schedule! And yes, we are delighted to be a part of this event with food and wine pairings of Siboney Cellars wines!

Siboney looks forward to great fruit from Fire Oak Vineyard for many years. And, we are happy to partner with such a wonderful Texas family. Barbara is already talking about the wonderful potential of hard-to-source Rhone varietals for our portfolio. And whispering about another sparkling wine option. To that we say, #JustYouWait!

And watch this space for a future story about our new partners in the High Plains!

New Terrace Vineyard Taking Shape

“Short of having a baby, planting a vineyard is the most optimistic thing you can do in life.”

The first vineyard site at Siboney Cellars is situated on the limestone terrace, at about 1430 feet elevation. Located midway between Johnson City and Hye, this portion of the 52 acre parcel is gently sloping south-to-north (from the back of the property towards US290). We are struck by the depth, quality, and drainage already in evidence. We are ripping the soil to a depth of about 12-18 inches, revealing a loamy, earthy aggregate that sheds water yet retains moisture. Closer to the top of the limestone bluff, as the soil shallows up, we are seeing caliche and chalk-like composites that fracture easily in the hand. It has rained moderately over the past 30 days, and soil probes are reading 10/10 for wetness, yet there is scant evidence of pooling or heaviness in any of the soil.

A significant amount of cedar has been cleared (and the root structures of this scourge show just how ruthlessly efficient cedars are at sucking up water, greedily consuming the overall water table). Part of our process also includes defining the perimeter boundary of this vineyard site, in concert with the placement of roads, access points and vineyard infrastructure. You can see one of the identifying features of this site — a beautiful Mott of live oaks will define a future tasting area with a view of vines all around. We are doing our very best to retain a true sense of the beauty of the Texas Hill Country while creating the very best estate vineyard we possibly can. All of this will take the time it takes, but meanwhile we can’t help but be buoyed in spirit at the prospect of developing this site. Short of having a baby, planting a vineyard is the most optimistic thing you can do in life.

What are we planting? Stay tuned, more to come. Meanwhile, enjoy this short video overview of the site preparation work at the Terrace Vineyard at Siboney Cellars.

2018 #TxWine Growing Season Underway – Spring Report

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. 

    Miguel Lecuona
    SIboney Cellars