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It's flowering time at our estate Margarita Vineyard, whereby the baby clusters self-pollinate to set the crop for the upcoming vintage.
As our Assistant Winemaker Stewart Cameron explains in this video, the flowering process begins when the cap over the petals is shed, liberating the pollen and allowing for crop set.
This is the beginning of the fruit's life cycle, which will continue from now through the 2013 harvest. Stay tuned!
When you think of eco-friendly practices, big machinery isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
But at our estate Margarita Vineyard, a couple of iron giants—specifically modern multi-function, multi-row tractors—have become an integral part of our sustainable winegrowing program.
Our two multi-row tractors, including the French-made Pellenc pictured here, have taken the place of six traditional tractors.
Because they serve multiple rows at a time and offer simultaneous function for mowing, trimming, pre-pruning and other uses, they have reduced our tractor passes (ie: travel up and down the vine rows) by more than 80 percent. This, in turn, has minimized soil compaction while cutting diesel fuel consumption.
Tractors are a necessary part of farming, but tractor passes cause soil compaction over time. Compaction results in stormwater runoff, which wastes precious water while exacerbating soil erosion. When the compaction becomes too great, the soil must be ripped—which requires more tractor passes and fuel consumption.
So ironically enough, these big machines have significantly lightened our environmental footprint at Margarita Vineyard. They were a huge investment for us, but also a wise one in the long run.
This is how a new vintage is born...After winter dormancy, the little buds on the vines break open every spring, a development that is known as "bud break."
From the buds comes the first new growth of the vintage, including young shoots and baby clusters. Soon, the baby clusters will "flower" and self-pollinate to set the crop, and within a few months the young shoots will turn into robust vine branches (called canes) and the clusters will swell in size.
Our estate Margarita Vineyard is the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles AVA, and occupies one of the region's coolest locations, which makes for a long growing season. In other words, these new clusters are going to take their own sweet time to reach full ripening, but they are officially on their way!
At our estate Margarita Vineyard, we have reduced our fossil fuel consumption through sustainable winegrowing practices. But ironically enough, the vineyard is becoming renowned for its fossil-fueled wines. Let us explain...
In a section of Margarita Vineyard called Oyster Ridge, the soil is composed of compacted layers of ancient oyster fossils. Here, the fossils are literally spilling out of the ground, testifying to the land’s origins as an uplifted sea bed (some of these fossils are enormous, such as the one pictured here). The result, in the words of Wine & Spirits Magazine, is “perhaps the most dramatically calcareous chunks of earth in the entire state.”
Why does this matter? Because calcium-rich soil is coveted by winemakers worldwide. At Margarita Vineyard, this translates to fruit with high-toned flavors, fine structure and pretty aromatics.
This ancient sea bed is actually one of five soil zones at Margarita Vineyard. Few vineyards boast such a spectrum of geological diversity. This diversity enables us to grow the same varietals in a range of soils, ultimately enhancing the complexity, texture and dimension of the resulting wines.
All five soil types play a role in our wines—but the ancient sea bed is by far the most rare and dramatic. Come out for one of our Saturday vineyard tours to see it for yourself.
Our sustainability efforts at Margarita Vineyard include maintaining wildlife corridors that allow for interconnected habitats.
Wildlife is consequently abundant on the surrounding Santa Margarita Ranch. Eagles, turkeys, pigs, deer, falcons, turtles and bears are among the many animals that call the ranch home.
Check out this frisky baby black bear spotted near our Malbec block. Once full grown, this bear will be able to consume more than 50 pounds of grapes in one day. Needless to say, we would prefer if he stayed in the oaks and away from the vines!