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Annual Notebook Back to Annual Notebook Index
Lawrence Dunham Vineyards Notebook 2009

Lawrence Dunham Vineyards Wine Development – Year in Review
  • Picked about 4.3 tons of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards Petite Sirah on September 9 and 10.
    Cold soaked 48 hours. See processing report.
  • Purchased about 4.5 tons of Grenache grapes from Rock Creek Vineyard. See processing report.
  • Purchased about 1.25 tons of Mouvedre grapes from Rock Creek Vineyard. See processing report.
  • Pressed fermented Petite Sirah on September 14 as tannin levels were very high. We wanted to get it off
    the skins. Talked to Todd Bostick, Dos Cabezas Wineworks, and he recommended this too. Press went well, never seen inkier wine in my life. Color is not going to be a problem! A little vegetal taste probably due to
    early picking. Looks good, smells pretty good. Pretty pleased so far. Picking up a little volatile acidity probably from the fruit damage but not bad. Moved wine directly to nine neutral barrels after free run and pressing. Segregated the free run (four barrels) from press wine (four barrels) with one mixed.  Started malolactic fermentation in barrels on September 18.
  • Tasted Petite Sirah on October 5. Still pretty tannic but looks good and smells good. Hopefully some time,
    oak, and blending can soften it a bit. Still encouraged. Nearing the end of malolactic fermentation but it is still bubbling a bit.
  • I brought home some Petite Sirah on September 9th to taste. Horrible! Color good, smell ok. Bad timing.
  • October 26 - I tasted the Petite Sirah and it is much improved. Malolactic fermentation is about done. Rod Keeling, Keeling Schaefer is worried about the tannins but I’m not as much. I blended it with a little Grenache and it was awesome.
  • October 30 I moved two barrels of free run Petite Sirah to Barrels LDV-003 and 004 New American Oak Medium Toast Head Toasted Ridoux Barrels. Moved one barrel of free-run Petite Sirah to LDV-002 New French Oak Medium Toast Head Toasted Ridoux Barrel.
  • October 30 I transferred free run Grenache to LDV-001 New French Medium Toast Head Toasted Ridoux Barrel and three neutral barrels. Racked off remaining press Grenache to separate plastic tank awaiting arrival of neutral barrels.
  • Brought home some 2009 Grenache and Petite Sirah on October 31. I tasted it alone and in several blends
    with Peggy. Very encouraging and there are going to be a lot of options especially throwing the Mouvedre
    into the mix. Some of the blending combinations 75/25 for both were really good. Didn’t take much Petite
    Sirah to color up that Grenache!
  • Tasted Petite Sirah in mid-February. Rod Keeling, Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, thinks we have a major tartaric acidity issue and is looking for ways to mitigate it. I am not sure it is a big problem; lack of acidity would be a bigger problem for me. I decided to send a sample of the free run and press wine to Vinquiry for testing.

  • Received test results from Vinquiry and tartaric acid, ph, and volatile acids are all good. Need to rack the wine
    to get some air in it and get the wine off sediment. I think the acidity issue will resolve itself.  
  • Racked all wines back into their original barrels on March 17-19. SO2 all of them. All are doing well.
    Petite Sirah is still very tannic but I am hoping the racking will tone it down. Mouvedre was ok, nothing special at this point. The Grenache was very good, excited about it. The Grenache in the neutral French oak barrel
    was out of this world at this point. Might bottle it all by itself, a real stunner, hope it stays that way. Right
    now probably looking at several blends for the 2009 wines. Should be able to move our wines to the
    Lawrence Dunham Vineyards winery (from Keeling Schaefer Vineyards) in May.
Spoke with Fernando (winemaker) with T-Vine (Napa Valley) about his 2007 Petite Sirah which was fabulous.
He said it was 100% Petite Sirah (although I could swear there was Zinfandel in it) and aged on 40% new American
Oak. It was in the barrel for nine months and aged in the bottle for 1.5 years. Feels the longer in the barrel, the
more fruit it loses. Time in the bottle integrated the wine. Need to be very careful about pumping over (treat the
wine gently like Pinot Noir). He racked the wine six times because he feels Petite Sirah picks up bad odors if not
racked often. Said I could call him any time.

2009 Lawrence Dunham Vineyards Notebook

December 2009
No visits to the vineyard this month. Our conditional use permit for the winery building will be heard before the
Planning and Zoning Commission in January. So that appears to be finally moving forward.

The vineyard experienced a nice warm fall to this point but it got down to 21° last night. It was cold as hell
and windy. It was the first freeze in a big way. Everything looks fried. End of 2009 growing season! A good one

Our vineyard manager, Tony began to lay out our next two acres and he began to install the grape stakes.
Work on the winery building is still being planned.

Thanksgiving 2009
Tradition continues as Lawrence Dunham Vineyards hosts another Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends.

The weather is still warm and sunny. Weeds are really coming hard from September 6th rain. 2009 plantings are
still pushing and look good. We have been adding fertilizer to water (Potassium and Nitrogen) as some leaves
are yellowing. The Petite Sirah looks stressed out but that is to be expected based on the crop size and youth.

We finished picking; about three more boxes. Ended up with about 4.3 tons total which is awesome for first year
considering freeze, bees, and hail on only two acres.

FIRST HARVEST BEGINS! Picked eight boxes (3.6 tons) today and still some left! Amazing! Fruit looks OK.
Will finishing picking the rest tomorrow.

I am concerned about fruit rot from the hail damage. The brix is at about 24.5 but decided to pick tomorrow to
keep fruit from rotting. Wish we could wait another week or two to get sugars up to desired target but don’t
want to lose the crop.

Inspected vineyard and found significant hail damage to fruit and foliage. Vineyard drained surprisingly well
considering the volume of water. Could have been that it rained so hard, so fast.

We experienced a killer storm. We estimated three inches in 90 minutes including a hail storm. The front yard
and driveway at the vineyard house is flooded. Keeling Schaefer Vineyards (three miles away) got basically nothing.
Storm trained over the vineyard and Ash Creek ran hard. Not sure how much vineyard damage we got from the hail.

The weather is still dry and warm. The Petite Sirah is getting pretty ripe. We field tested the grapes and they
are at 23 brix.

The weather is still dry and warm. We tested the Petite Sirah and it is at 21.5 brix. We are getting close.
Bees have been eradicated.

We had to spray the vineyard to knock down bees. We will let it dissipate at least one week before harvesting.

Monsoon still about at zero. Due to dry conditions (we are guessing since there are no flowers) the vineyard is
under attack from bees. They are doing a lot of damage to the southwestern portion of the vineyard eating
the grapes.

Petite Sirah is looking good. I did random picking of grapes from different parts of the vineyard and east and west
exposures. At least 90% of grapes have turned. Spectrometer analysis of combined crush of these grapes was
16.5 brix. Rod thinks we have four or five more weeks to go. We are still targeting 26 to 27 brix.

New plantings are still very vigorous. Vines were tied just a week ago need tying again already. I spent time in
the field tying the Viognier. Several major ant hills have appeared in vineyard and were treated. No other pests
identified. There is very minimal bird damage to Petite Sirah.

We are still watering every other day. The vineyard is still experiencing a very dry monsoon season.

Did not taste Lawrence Dunham Vineyards wines but blend tasted Rod Keeling’s, Keeling Schaefer Vineyards 2007
Grenache and Syrah blended with 2008 Mouvedre. All combinations were very good but I preferred a 50% Grenache,
37.5% Syrah, 12.5% Mouvedre. Looks like Rod will bottle a similar blend to this although I hate to see him use his
Mouvedre on a blend – but it does create a very different product than his Grenache and Syrah bottlings. Hard to
argue, it is great stuff.

Contemplating purchasing 2009 grapes from Rod Keeling, Keeling Schaefer Vineyards and the barrels we will need
for our first Petite Sirah harvest and any grapes we purchase. Rod said that Grenache will be plentiful and some
Mouvedre might be available. I still want to try some French and American barrel options to see what we like best.
Now is the time to experiment a bit with these small quantities.

Much of Petite Sirah has turned and sugars have risen to the taste since 7.22.09. Ripening is way ahead of Keeling
Schaefer’s established vineyards. We anticipate picking late August to early September. Grapes are in pretty good
shape except we are getting some splitting. It has been a relatively dry summer so far compared to last year.
Showers have been hit and miss. We got about an inch or rain Thursday, Keeling Schaefer’s vineyards three miles
away got nothing and the opposite happened Saturday.

Rod Keeling, Keeling Schaefer, thinks we should target between 26 and 27 brix for picking. He is going to call around
to some other vineyards that have Petite Sirah to see what they are picking at.

New plantings are looking very good. The second major training occurred this weekend and everything looks good.
Many vines are already out to the end. No sign of pests.

Tasted the 2008 Syrah and still very good. Tasted Grenache and it is still sweet but the flavors and nose are amazing.
Strawberry patch, Rhubarb, ripe watermelon. If we can get the sugar out, should be a stunner. Once sugar is out, I
think it should be bottled sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, we have no bottles! I am moving away from
developing just one blend from our wines. I think if we can get the Grenache fixed, both can stand on its own and it
might be good to have two different styles out of the chute.

Rod Keeling’s Keeling Schaefer Vineyards 2008 Mouvedre is absolutely amazing. We should consider for our next
major planting after the Viognier. I am interested to see if it is a one year wonder like Rockpile Zinfandel. If not, it
might be a signature grape for this area. I am looking forward to this year’s harvest and fermentation to taste it
again. Maybe we can get some!

Mid-July has been hot, monsoon strong at the beginning of month, now tapering off. We dropped Petite Sirah fruit
(green harvested); probably about 10%. Rod Keeling, Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, says there is still a very good crop.
New plantings received second training. Most plants are out on the wire.

Petite Sirah is entering Veraison. We installed the bird guards this week.

Spoke with the nursery and they said they have had some problems with incompatible grafts on the Petite Sirah and
that is probably what is happening. Does not think it is a virus or disease.

Insects have been eradicated. We went through vineyard to count skips and dead plants. Counted 47 dead or dying
Petite Sirah which is alarming. We counted about 200 Grenache seedlings from one supplier that did not make it and
the Grenache, Syrah, and Viognier from another supplier had a 99% take so far.

Second annual 4th of July Celebration at the vineyard with neighbors and friends from the Valley. Bluish/Green
flying beetles and Skeletinizer bugs found in vineyard. They are very bad at the neighbor’s vineyard. I decided to
spray with a micro nutrient blend that dissipates within 12 hours on the entire vineyard. Nice cool weather the last
few days.

We tasted approximately 50/50 mix of New American Oak/neutral Oak 2008 Syrah. Oak has mellowed since last
tasting. Highly extracted, dark fruit and chocolate nose and strong fruit palette. Good tannins. This is going to be
a big, bold wine. The sugar is almost out of the 2008 Grenache but still working. I did not taste.

We showed off our first piece of joint purchase equipment with Keeling Schaefer Vineyards a bottling machine
to guests.

Noticing a number of dead or dying Petite Sirah plants with full fruit sets. Rod Keeling, Keeling Schaefer Vineyards
thinks it is “spongy bark” but is not real concerned as this does not spread unless roots are touching. 2009 plantings
have perked up due to Calcium/Nitrogen additions to irrigation. Still seem a bit behind last year. Petite Sirah skips
planted this year look great. Petite Sirah seems very vigorous compared to others.

Arrived at the vineyard and experienced a large monsoon storm in the afternoon. We experienced a simultaneous
lightening and thunder strike right in front of the house. We have never heard a sound that loud. It scared us all,
even Eppy the dog.

June has been a very cool month; highs in the 80’s for almost two weeks. Cool nights.
New plants seem behind last year.

May has been very hot. Hit mid 90’s several days in a row.

The new plantings are budding out.

We had a hard freeze (four hours below 32°) after initial bud break. The temperature reached 26°
at Keeling Schaefer Vineyards three miles away. They experienced significant damage on new buds.
We watered heavily the day before the freeze and this may have saved some buds.

We completed planting of approximately 2,700 Grenache, 900 Syrah, and 200 Viognier vines.

The crew showed up early to begin planting. We finished off the row of Petite Sirah and the skips where the
irrigation canal is (now covered with soil). We replanted the dead Petite Sirah and Grenache.

Our vines came in and we put them in cold water with root stimulator to get them ready for planting.

Completed winter pruning on the Petite Sirah and everything is looking good. We cut them back to 8 to 10 positions
and 20 to 24 buds on each vine. The buds are where the grape clusters will develop. It is sad to see them cut all the
way back; they look so dead. The year old vines are already different from the new ones. The weather warmed early
and we were nervous about early bud break; which it did. Keeling Schaefer experienced more than us.

I tasted the 2008 Syrah in New American Oak. It is very woody at this point. Good extraction and color.
Tasted 2008 Syrah in neutral barrel and it is tasting of big fruit and has great potential. We are still having problems
with residual sugar in 2008 Grenache. Rod Keeling (Keeling Schaefer Vineyards) is trying a new yeast pellet to try to
bring sugar down. Tastes and looks good at this point but sweet. Rod Keeling (Keeling Schaefer Vineyards) said we
could do a blend with any of his wines if we wanted except for his reserve wines.

We experienced our first illegal immigrant break-in at the vineyard house. Nothing stolen but they were looking
for food and security scared them away; unfortunately they forgot to close the refrigerator and freezer door as
they ran out of the house.

We started the New Year beginning the new Lawrence Dunham Vineyards winery building planning.
We are transforming a steel pole shed into a winery. Four acres of steel went into the new vineyard and irrigation
extended right before the holidays. We submitted our wine bond application finally and began the Cochise County
permitting process.

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