Between the Vines is a biweekly column on wine and wine making in the Livermore Valley region. This column was contributed by Eric and Rick Corbett, the manager and owner of Del Arroyo Vineyard and Crooked Vine & Stony Ridge Winery.
What's happening in Livermore Valley vineyards this month?
This a very exciting time in the Del Arroyo Vineyard. Our grapes are going through "veraison," which means the grapes are transitioning from the growth stage to the ripening stage and with that comes color and sweetness. Depending on the type of grape, or "varietal," we are seeing a color change from green to a beautiful purple. This is the time when grapes soften, enlarge and the sugar levels rise, transforming the fruit from tart tasting berries to nice, sweet grapes. If the grapes don't ripen, they are basically unusable for wine. Our malvasia bianca is good enough to eat right off the vine right now!
Here at Del Arroyo we are also concentrating on canopy management and irrigation. Canopy management is a way for us to physically help the grapes get to a wine-quality level. We are lifting the wires that support the vines, pulling leaves and removing, or "dropping," unwanted fruit to allow more light and air flow to the grapes. This process helps grapes to ripen evenly, lowers our tonnage at harvest and increases the quality of our grapes. Without the extra leaves and unwanted fruit, the plant is able to concentrate all of its energy where we want it: the ripening grape clusters.
We also are keeping a watchful eye on our watering program in order to ensure the best possible grape crop our vineyard can accomplish. Del Arroyo Vineyard is located on the hillside above the valley floor on Greenville Road. We have elevations of 700 to 1100 feet, which is unique for the Livermore Valley. The elevation allows us to get a variety of temperatures, depending on the location -- slope or plateau. As the third-largest wine grape grower in Livermore Valley, we grow 14 different varietals but concentrate mostly on cabernet sauvignon and petite sirah. The vineyard was planted in 2000, and we now have more than 180 acres that we farm to produce wine grapes. Not only are we the estate vineyard for Crooked Vine and Stony Ridge wineries but we also grow fruit for other wineries in the Livermore Valley and surrounding wine regions. Some of the local wineries that use our fruit are Bent Creek, Occasio and Mitchell Katz. At this time in our vineyard, it is looking like it is going to be an exceptional year for grapes.
For more information and to taste wines made from grapes grown in Del Arroyo Vineyard, please visit Crooked Vine and Stony Ridge Winery at 4948 Tesla Road in Livermore or find us online at www.crookedvine.com
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