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Sunbreak Cellars - The Third Year

For most of our vines, this will be their fourth year since they were planted. The root systems have had three years to develop and the vine trunks of the more robust vines are getting close to two centimeters in diameter. Last year, although I had hoped to get my first fruit, I made a strategic decision to force the root systems to grow. While the vines were healthy and green through the year, the result was that the vines just could not pull enough water to help the grapes ripen -- and so I grew a bunch of unripe raisins.

This year, I have many key learnings to apply as I really do intend to get a first real crop. Here's the plan for the year:

bulletMarch: Prune vines back to two fruiting canes. If not possible due to uneven growth, then leave at least several renewal spurs so that I will have some options.
bulletApril: Watch closely. For vines where I may have left an extra cane, make a decision by the end of the month and prune the extra cane.
bulletMay: Start cane positioning to make sure that the vines are growing through the vertical trellis system. Start applying organic spray regimen to prevent onset of mildew.
bulletJune: Continue cane positioning and spray regimen. Pull a few shoots to start to manage the canopy for open air. Reduce grape clusters to between 4-6 per fruiting cane so that remaining grapes can mature.
bulletJuly: Continue cane positioning and spray regimen. Pull leaves, where necessary to ensure that grape clusters are not completely shaded as this should help them get color during veraison.
bulletAugust: Manage vigor of the overall canopy. By the end of the month, ensure that netting is in place to protect the grapes from the birds and other neighborhood critters.
bulletSeptember: Watch and wait until ripe. My site is a little warmer than other areas in Puget Sound so, if everything is ripe by the 3rd or 4th week in September, it should be time to have the first real harvest!

Check back later and see how I did in keeping up with this!


Through the creation of our vineyard, we relied on three books: From Vines to Wines gave us the incentive and basic information; The Grape Grower is a great book on planting as well as pest management and fertilizers; and Oregon Viticulture offers the most in-depth knowledge of managing the vineyard.


Read about the rest of the background behind our vineyard. This description will be updated as we achieve each next level. (The current chapter is listed in red.)

bulletIntroduction - The Vineyard Next Door. Our goals and objectives for our backyard vineyard.
bulletLe Goût du Terroir. Our terroir -- the available land we plan to use.
bulletShifting The Landscape. Six years before we even thought about a vineyard, our backyard started to evolve.
bulletThinking of the Fruit of the Vine. From the germ of idea to our first research into our options, here's what we learned about possibilities for a home vineyard in Seattle.
bulletPlanning, Planning, Not Yet Planting. As we continued our planning, we sunk much deeper into the details of planning.
bullet Time For Planting. We got the vines! Read about our planting and first year of growing. We are currently still in the middle of this year and will be updating this section periodically.
bullet The First Year. Once we planted the wines, we still had a lot of work to do in the first year to ensure that they would be healthy and make it into their second year.
bullet The Second Year. The vines made it through the first summer and winter. This year, we're watching for solid growth as the vines continue to establish their roots.
bulletReferences. Here are the resources that we relied on for research.


Wine Enthusiast - Ultimate wine accessories site! The Wine Enthusiast is a great source of glassware, serving and preservation systems, in addition to self-contained wine cellars and other wine storage options. If you're not sure what you need, the company offers a list of 'Recommended' items that cover a wide range of needs through their home page.

Wine glasses, decanters and more: Many choices are available including Riedel and Spiegelau crystal stemware and decanters. Plus, there are many products to clean and care for your glassware.   


Serving and preserve your wine, from the most elegant decanters to chillers, coasters, drip savers and more. When we want wine by the glass (when we don't think we'll finish a bottle), we use the WineKeeper which automatically fills the bottle with nitrogen to preserve the wine.
Corkscrews Corkscrews and cork pullers are essential tools. Wine Enthusiast has a wide variety of devices including the traditional Laguiole corkscrew to the smooth Rabbit Corkscrew leverpull types. Storing your wine doesn't have to be difficult. Wine Enthusiast offers everything from free standing wine cellars to wine racks and cooling systems that can be installed in a closet or a corner of the basement.   
Finally, for great deals, don't forget to check out the clearance items and the Wine Cellar Outlet Store areas.


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