Our Home Ranch Vineyard. Take a look at that beautiful dirt! Our estate vineyard was planted in 1996 on top of gravel from a now-extinct river that ran through the Livermore Valley Wine Country for centuries.
The resulting gravel is hundreds of feet deep in this spot. This rock drains exceptionally well, retains heat if it gets cold later in the season, and reflects light up under the canopy, aiding in the ripening of our clone 7 Cabernet Sauvignon. This clone represents 70-80% of all the Cab grown in California. It is also called the Concannon clone which traces its ancestry back to first-growth cuttings that were planted in Livermore in the 1870s.
The Steven Kent Winery makes a single-vineyard wine from this site, and the fruit is also used in a super-Tuscan style blend of Cabernet and Sangiovese called Vincere. At times, it will also be used for the Lineage | Livermore Valley blend.
We changed farming companies before the 2018 harvest, and one consequence of this move was the need for me to do my own fruit sampling.
Sampling is the process of taking berries or bunches of grapes randomly from a block of fruit in order to gauge the ripeness of those grapes. We will do this sampling as we get relatively close to harvest, say, a couple of weeks out. The first result serves as a baseline; all subsequent measures of brix, pH, and TA (for our purpose, total acidity) generally advance toward what ripeness would mean from a numbers standpoint.
For me, though, these numbers are only confirmatory. I’ll only pick fruit if the flavors and textures of the grape match my conception of ready-to-go.
Beyond the specific purpose of determining how far out harvest is, walking our
vineyards frequently keeps me in touch with potential issues in terms of health of the vines and keeps me close to the great beauty of a well-planted and well-maintained vineyard.