We recently had the opportunity to attend a vineyard walk sponsored by the Russian River Valley Winegrowers at Mirabelle Vineyard off Wohler Road. The vineyard walks give RRVW members an opportunity to check out others’ growing strategies here in the Russian River Valley. The walk, led by RRVW member Randy Luginbill, vice president of winery relations for the vineyard’s owner, Silverado Premium Properties, focused on how they tailor their farming operations (vine architecture, pruning strategy, mechanization vs. hand work) within the same vineyard to meet the needs of buyers with different yield/quality expectations.
It was a wonderful education! We were amazed by the many different trellis and pruning styles and row orientations in the same vineyard, taking the best advantage of the soil and topography. We were able to pick up some ideas that we plan to implement in our own vineyard, including a revision of how the end of our irrigation hoses are tied off. Under “there’s always something new to learn,” Randy demonstrated the old school art of cane cracking, a method of carefully twisting the bottom of two canes to cause the lower canopy to hang down rather than grow skyward.
It was a great opportunity to hang out with our neighbors and fellow industry associates, which is always a pleasure. A very special treat was a colorful hot-air balloon rising from behind the trees and gliding directly over our group. We laughed out loud at the realization that they were taking pictures of us as we were taking pictures of them. Nice staging, Randy.
Another vineyard walk is planned for Wednesday, July 29 at Sonoma-Cutrer's Owlsey Vineyard, where new pruning techniques and alternatives to water for frost control will be discussed. We definitely recommend taking an hour to meet and learn from your neighboring growers!