Spring in the Vineyard

Spring is upon us and across the ranch vine buds are breaking signaling the start of a new growing season. This is one of the busiest times of the year for our vineyard team. Mowing, planting, shoot thinning and under-vine cultivation are all at the forefront of springtime activities.

Halter Ranch Grenache Block 1

Block 1 head-trained Grenache bud break. Photo by Zeb Little.



The first official bud break was experienced in Block 1 head-trained Grenache on March 13. To date everything has woken up except Cabernet Sauvignon, which has been slow to rise from its winter slumber.

Block 70 cane pruned VSP Grenache – almost at the complete opposite end of the ranch to our Block 1 Grenache. Photos by Zeb Little.


Vineyard Manager, Lucas Pope, said 50% bud break was experienced over two weeks ago, putting us two weeks behind last years’ growth. “This season is shaping up to be similar to 2013/14 for bud break dates. We are currently in the process of protecting our vineyards against the possibility of frost. Late winter rains are typically followed by frosty conditions. We are at a vulnerable time point because the tender green shoots are sensitive to even the slightest frost conditions.”

Mowing of our 281 acres of vines. Photo by Zeb Little.


To mitigate frost impact, the vineyard team mowed the 281 acres of vineyard on the property. Alternate row mowing was completed on hills, specifically in the Syrah blocks, to draw moisture from the soil. Flat blocks or valley floors, which are most susceptible to frost, were mowed each row as a means for passive frost protection. This is done by lowering the vineyard floor away from the canes of the vine.

Alternate row mowing. Photo by Zeb Little.


The vineyard team has also converted from cordon pruned vines to cane pruned vines. The difference being cane pruning promotes new growth each year with a healthier canopy and more fruit. Next in the vineyard is replanting missing vines across the ranch and shoot thinning to control crop levels and promote healthy vines; shoot thinning redirects the plants energy to where you want it to go.

Luckily, Vineyard Manager, Lucas Pope, now has a little extra help from new Assistant Viticulturist Zeb Little. Zeb, who started at Halter Ranch in August 2016, transitioned from the winemaking team into the field and is now responsible for vineyard observation, data monitoring, and undertaking our SIP Certification processes and management.

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