Late spring and early summer
We began pruning in March and didn't end until late June. Next year, an earlier start might be called for! We had an additional new job of bottling our 2011 wine this year as well.
All through the winemaking process we were grateful to have the advice of a more experienced winemaker, Bill Musgnung, who helped shepherd our first vintage. He has been making wine for more than 30 years, first in Oregon and for the past several years in Colorado.
We have learned more this year about wine chemistry, winery equipment, and the process from Bill. We learned a lot from the wines themselves! We have waited a long time to bring our vineyards to fruition (aka wine to market) beginning in 2006. It's been a fascinating and long haul!
As with the orchards, the vineyards have not responded well to early hot and dry days. We cannot remember when we last had a good rain, it might have been last winter, the winter of no snow! The monsoons are early, they began in July and because it's been so hot, most of the moisture evaporated before it reached the ground. Or the rains went around us. At least we have enough water in our ditch, Leroux Creek, to continue irrigation.
Babydoll Southdown vineyard management
Every morning we move our sheep to a small electric-fenced pasture. Snowy, our Great Pyrenees on the other side of the canal, helps too.
We provide them with a tent for shade and fresh water.
In the evening we bring them back to the sheep barn. They soon get used to making the trip, with our guidance.
The sheep "mow" and fertilize. We have trained them not to eat the grape leaves although in April there aren't any leaves to eat!
After 3-5 days of grazing, we change the fence to give them fresh pasture.
This year we have an EZGO electric golf cart to get us around the farm quickly. I don't know how we lived without it!
Like the rest of Colorado and most of the country, we did not have a "real" winter. We were able to start pruning at the beginning of March instead of April.
Ann came back to the farm in April to help with pruning and experience a full season in the vineyard.
We will not finish with the pruning, suckering, weed badging, and fertilizing in the vineyard until sometime in June. Most folks aren't fully aware of how much labor is involved in growing the grapes that make the wine.