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Curt in the Dirt - Winery Updates Back to Curt in the Dirt

August, 2010

LDV Winery
Curt in the field checking grapes
Spring planting was very successful. We planted another two acres (1,900 plants) of the Rhone white varietal Viognier (VEE-ohn-yay) which we think has a promising future in the Chiricahua Foothills.

We also replaced about 2,500 Grenache, Syrah, and Viognier vines that were killed by the October 2009 freeze.

Lawrence Dunham Vineyards is now up to 8.5 acres total.
Plants arrived on April 15th and we cold soaked them in root stimulator for a couple of days.

Planting started on April 19th. LDV friends Lisa Faiss and Don Kelly with GreenZona joined us in the field.

They worked hard for a couple of days planting but we fed and wined them well and they said they enjoyed the experience.

It took about two weeks to get all the vines planted.

LDV Winery
2010 planting - Lisa Faiss & Don Kelly
Mother Nature threw us a curve ball at the end of April with a frost right after bud break. We were thankful that our good friend David Thomas was with us helping out as we pulled an all-nighter tending to the vineyard and lighting bon fires and using smudge pots in the vineyard to keep warm air flowing. The overnight temperature got down to 30 degrees but we survived with little damage. We dodged a bullet and the vineyard looks extremely healthy. Many other Arizona vineyards were not so lucky.

Now the attention in the vineyard is focused on training the new vines and positioning the established plants. The grapevine is a climber. To grow properly, it needs something its tendrils can cling to – stakes, a trellis, or stretched wires. The new vines are being trained by being tied to the wires that hang between our metal trellising systems. The training that occurs now will impact the vines for the rest of their lives – hopefully many decades!

LDV Winery
Curt Training Vines
The established vines are being positioned.
This process involves taking the leafy
shoots that grow after the fruit is set
and feeding them through a series of
wires that will create a canopy to shade
the maturing grapes.

It is important to get a good canopy established to protect the grapes from intense sun.
We have noticed that the color of the Grenache wine from grapes grown in our area is very light and we believe it is because the young vines do not have enough of a canopy to protect them from the sun. The grapes’ color  gets bleached much like our hair in summer. We will be working to remedy this over the years.

Veraison is beginning in the field.

The French word veraison has become internationally accepted as the technical
term for coloring.

In warm summers, veraison begins earlier, in cool summers, later.

This process is triggered when a certain level of sugar has been reached within the juice of the berry.

LDV Winery
Veraison Begins
Not all grapes take on color at the same time. Usually those that have received the most sunlight and warmth color first, while grapes growing on the shady side remain green longer.

We harvested our Petite Sirah on September 9th and 10th last year and we anticipate beginning to harvest later in September this year. Last year we had to pick a little sooner than we wanted due to a freak hail storm. So we are keeping our fingers crossed for a long, mild summer. Let us know if you want to join us for harvest and crush . It is lots of fun and hard work. This will be the first crush at our winery.

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