Vineyards

Laurie Jervis: A Year in the Life of a New Santa Maria Valley Winery – Part 5 | Homes and Lifestyle


[Noozhawk’s note: In early February, Will Henry told Noozhawk that he was about to plant the first estate vineyard for Lumen Wines, the label he co-owns and produces with Lane Tanner, and we jumped at the chance to document the process from Day One. Following is the fifth in a series about the life of a new vineyard by Noozhawk contributing writer Laurie Jervis and photographer Len Wood.]

When we gathered at Warner Henry Vineyard on August 16 and admired the new green leaves and tiny bunches of grapes, it was evident that in the north and south plots the young vines were growing at noticeably different rates.

Most of the grafted vines – like the Mt. Eden, 667 and 828 clones – exhibited advanced trunk and shoot growth, with a few even trailing along the trellis. But the own vines, planted in the far east of the northern plot, showed less height. Some were still completely contained in their culture tubes.

The five-acre vineyard was planted with vines for five days starting May 13.

Lumen wines, the wine label co-owned by Will Henry and Lane Tanner, will have its first estate vineyard at Warner Henry, a five-acre vineyard on 11 acres that Henry and his wife, Kali Kopley, purchased in 2018. The project lasted for years. in planning and was a dream of Henry’s late father, businessman Warner Henry, who died last August at the age of 82.

Henry and Kopley named their vineyard Warner Henry to honor his legacy.

One plant grows before the others that grow at Warner Henry Vineyard in Orcutt.
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A plant grows before the others that grow in the vineyard. (Photo by Len Wood / Noozhawk)

The argument for using grafted vines began at the end of the 19th century, when a New World pest, phylloxera, decimated historic vineyards in the Old World. The only way to save the old vines, which grew from the Middle East to Western Europe, was to graft new vines onto phylloxera resistant rootstocks.

However, some winemakers and winegrowers believe that rooted vines, especially those planted in areas and soils resistant to phylloxera, produce better wines. So there we have it.

Will Henry checks the progress of the vines growing at Warner Henry Vineyard in Orcutt.  This plant has been damaged by a pest, possibly caterpillars.
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Will Henry checks the progress of the vines growing at Warner Henry Vineyard in Orcutt. This plant has been damaged by a pest, possibly caterpillars. (Photo by Len Wood / Noozhawk)

The esteemed local winemaker and “grape whisperer” Rueben Solarzano, whose opinion Henry “respects a lot”, has warned the latter against planting vines with clean roots, as they tend towards low yields.

“While I understand his sentiment, lower yields are more relevant if you’re growing for someone else,” Henry noted.

He understands that in 2022 – which will be the “second leaf” of Warner Henry Vineyard – there may not be enough tonnage for anything other than a pinot noir rosé from Lumen Wines or a natural sparkling wine, known. under the name of pét nat, a cloudy and sparkling wine bottled during its first fermentation.

“If I only get a ton or two of Mount Eden grapes per acre, I’ll be happy,” he said.

Henry may have to wait until 2023 (the third leaf) to get viable fruit from the rooted vines, but time will tell.

Caterpillars are knocked down from a young vine by Will Henry at Warner Henry Vineyard in Orcutt.
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Caterpillars are knocked down from a young vine by Will Henry at Warner Henry Vineyard in Orcutt. (Photo by Len Wood / Noozhawk)

In the two months since our last visit to the vineyard (we all enjoyed a vacation in July), Henry’s vineyard team had spent four days weeding with a Clemens disc blade that removes weeds but doesn’t not cut the young, fragile vines.

“All of that work is weed and pest control… watch out for gophers and ground squirrels. The waffles cut the vines at their base and the squirrels dig the soil around the vines, ”Henry said.

Tiny green caterpillars, probably the beet armyworm, a common and voracious pest, also damage some vines. Henry pulled grow tubes from a few vines that exhibited leaves so well eaten that they looked like ancient lace.

A young plant with chewed, brown leaves has been damaged by a pest, possibly caterpillars.
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A young plant with chewed, brown leaves has been damaged by a pest, possibly caterpillars. (Photo by Len Wood / Noozhawk)

Arrived late this year, the vineyard will be “seeded” for row crops that will provide nutrients to the soil during the winter for the 2022 vintage.

“Since we don’t have overhead sprinklers here, we need rain to irrigate the row crops,” he said.

In a “normal” rainy year, you can sow a vineyard in January and the crops will flower in the spring, but 2021 was far from a normal rainy year.

The young vines growing on the east side of the Warner Henry Vineyard in the foreground are overshadowed by the mature plants of the Presqu'ile Vineyard.
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The young vines growing on the east side of the Warner Henry Vineyard in the foreground are overshadowed by the mature plants of the Presqu’ile Vineyard. (Photo by Len Wood / Noozhawk)

Henry and Kopley visited Motley Crew Ranch in Sta. Rita Hills, which he described as a “closed-loop animal system” that uses goats, pigs, sheep, geese and other animals to eat weeds and, in turn, fertilize the soils. organically grown vineyards.

“It’s a symbiotic arrangement,” he said, and that’s the couple’s goal for Warner Henry Vineyards. “We hope to learn from them which animals will work best for biological weed control.”

Coming soon: We are supporting the 2021 harvest of Lumen Wines.

– Laurie Jervis tweets at @lauriejervis and reachable via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.



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