A Holiday Hike Up Block 50 Grenache

Trekking upward between Grenache and Mourvèdre


I began my trek up Block 50 Grenache / Mourvèdre around 4:19 pm just over an hour before our staff holiday event in the northeastern most barrel room of the new winery.  The windchill was already up (or down depending on how you define things) and shadows were growing long.  My first impression of this planting took place just after the vines were put in the ground this May past, and my thought at the time was “so steep!”.  This assessment was no less accurate on foot seven months later and I could feel my chest tightening as my lungs filled with chilly air.  The reward upon reaching the top was more than worth the effort and nearly beyond description (though I will still try of course).  


Sun inching lower


Those of you from the area, or who watch our facebook page, have probably noted that sunsets out this direction have been particularly spectacular lately.  I was eager to experience the natural majesty of our little planet’s energy source tucking us in for the night from a new perspective.  My previous visit to this site took place in the morning just as the weather was starting to heat up for summertime and the rocky subsoil was readily apparent in the strewn bits of bleach-white stone covering the top of the hillside. On this second visit the cover crop was up and the pathways were strewn with the hay we use to mitigate erosion during the winter months.


Pinnacle oak stained red


As I drew nearer, the oak at the crest of the hill loomed larger and just upon arriving at its base the sun cast a twilit red glow across the small plateau surrounding the tree.  Tiptoeing forward I became fascinated with its various facets.  There seemed an intention in the way the branches posed, and so I crept closer to investigate.


Acorn woodpecker stash


Around the backside of the tree I found the honeycombed deadwood pictured above.  Birders refer to such stashes as ‘granaries’ and they function as systematically organized larders for Acorn Woodpeckers.  The existence of these delightfully homey details in such a gorgeous tree tempt me toward belief in the concept of Kami.


Leaning in for a closer look


Acorn woodpeckers are intensely communal birds and they use different trees for different purposes.  A granary tree requires ongoing maintenance (not that dissimilar from a wine cellar) as the acorns age they begin to shrink and must be moved to smaller holes.


Setting sun and young grenache


After investigating the magic tree I walked the remaining 20 yards to the absolute crest of the hill.  Looking west across Adelaida Road I could see the northeast portion of Tablas Creek (if you are curious about wine from the perspective across the street, their excellent blog is here) just as it fell into shadow.  It was amazing how quickly a more intense chill crept into the air as the sunlight dwindled.  Every time I venture outdoors and into the vineyard I become captivated even more by HRV in the most wonderful way.  This was all the more true on this day given the nostalgia and general wonder of the winter holidays.


Block access in zags and zigs at Tablas Creek


Delightful holidays to all and to all a happy, hearty, healthy cheers!


Disappearing sun reflects on cloud

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