Between the Vines is a biweekly column on wine and winemaking in the Livermore Valley region. This column was contributed by Mark Triska, owner of Triska Crane Ridge Vineyards, and Matt Boughner, vineyard manager at Viticultural Management Inc.

What's happening in Livermore Valley vineyards this month?

There are three main efforts underway at Triska Crane Ridge Vineyards in June: shoot thinning, lifting wires and pulling leaves.

Shoot thinning is cutting shoots off the cordon, which are the outward extensions or "arms" of a grapevine extending from the trunk. The cordon carries the fruiting grape shoots or spurs. Removing water shoots (ones without grape clusters) and short shoots with clusters that are not likely to ripen promotes shoot growth because the growing power is concentrated in the main canes and grape clusters. Shoot thinning also reduces the overall crop on each vine, which helps to create more intense flavors in the wine.

We are also lifting wires in the vineyard to increase filtered light penetration in the canopy of shoots and leaves. Exposing the fruit to light helps with ripening and improves the color and quality of wine.

The vineyard has two sets of wires: two on the west side of the vine and two on the east side of the vine. Every third vine there is an 8-foot-tall stake with notches that are spaced about four inches apart. As the vines grow, we lift the wires and place them into the notches to lift the canopy and keep it from drooping toward the ground.

We remove leaves from the vines, but only on the east (morning sun) side of the plant. "Pulling" leaves improves air flow in the vineyard and makes fungicide sprays more effective. It also helps filtered light penetrate the canopy on the am sun side to give better flavors, color and ripeness to the grapes.


Advertisement

Triska Crane Ridge Vineyards is located in the 200-acre Crane Ridge Vineyards subdivision developed by Wente Vineyards at the southwest corner of Tesla Road and Greenville Road, just west of Poppy Ridge Golf Course. We have 14 acres of merlot grapes that are 18 years old and some producing olive trees. We sell our grapes to Concannon Vineyard and Nottingham Cellars but have worked with several wineries in the Livermore Valley.

Wine country events:

  • Wine, Beats and Mobile East -- 12 to 4 p.m. June 29 at Wente Vineyards Estate Winery, 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore, CA, 94550; www.wentevineyards.com. Cost is $20, $15 for club members. Feast on fare from local food trucks while sampling wines from Wente Vineyards, Murrieta's Well and Double Decker. Enjoy live music from Silent Partner. Event entry is complimentary. For more information call 925 456-2305.

  • Evening in the Vineyard/Free Concert -- 6 to 9 p.m. July 5 at Las Positas Vineyards, 1828 Wetmore Road, Livermore, CA, 94550; www.laspositasvineyards.com. The event is free. Come join us for free concerts in the vineyards on the first and third Fridays of the month through October. Artisan pizzas by On The Vine Catering, wine and beer available for sale. No outside food or beverages permitted. For reservations please email info@laspositasvineyards.com or call 925-449-9463.