Harvest Pests Vineyard

Harvest 2018

Harvest 2018

When we planted our first Sauvignon blanc vines in 2009 it was an experiment to see how well the variety would do.  After all we are at 5000’ feet elevation in an arid climate with monsoonal summers during ripening. The fine wines industry was just starting to develop in our area with two of the first wineries within one mile of us. There was little history of growing different varieties in our area. Each year presented new challenge especially for a novice vigneron. We chose Sauvignon blanc because it is one of our favorite varieties and one we assumed would have a better chance in this climate.  The first couple of years were very promising. By the third year we started to notice some of the vines were having difficulty with their development. Some vines struggled to produce a crop while others were abundantly overloaded.  Over time we lost a full row of vines.

This year the vines that are still producing yielded the largest crop to date. I will continue the Sauvignon blanc story after the Assyrtiko.

Assyrtiko Grapes


In 2011 we received two Mist Propagated Plants (MPP) Assyrtiko vines from the UC Davis Foundation Plant Services.  We nurtured them in containers and planted them in 2012. Their development was very slow, not producing any fruit until last year (2017).  In 2014 we planted 30 more Assyrtiko vines and they produced a small crop in 2017.

This year was impressive. The vines were loaded with fruit. Average 9 pounds per vine.  Out of the thirty vines, 19 plants produced 180 lbs. of grapes. A few vines have failed to develop or been damaged by gophers. A couple of vines failed to produce. We picked the vines September 4 at 23 brix, 3.3 PH, and fermented 9 days at 62 degrees with Lalvin R-HST yeast.

Because the Assyrtiko is doing so well we have been questioning why the Sauvignon blanc is struggling. The two blocks are several hundred feet from each other. The difference with the Sauvignon blanc is its proximity to mature pine trees. Testing the soil and tissue hasn’t yielded any clues to the decline. I can only guess the pine oil and needles is having an adverse effect on the vines.

We had only minimal insect and mold pressure this summer, probably because the weather was so dry. We had monsoon storms around our area, however, there was less rain compared to last year. On the day after harvest we were invaded by an army of Hawk Moth Caterpillars. They are voracious eaters. We were able to completely pick the pests off the vines in 3 days with minimal damage.

Hawk Moth Caterpillar
August Monsoons in Arizona

We’re in the process of expanding the Assyrtiko vineyard. We plan on planting 50 more vines in the spring of 2019.

Harvest Vineyard

Assyrtiko Harvest 2017

After 5 years, the first two Assyrtico vines from UC Davis have given us a mature crop. These vines take a lot of patience, but they’re perfect for our Monsoon climate. The clusters are full but the berries are separated and resist the humidity. The skins are tough and full of tannins that express the terroir. The other 25 Assyrtico vines in a separate vineyard, also from Foundation Plant Services, are full of clusters and should produce some wine this year. Last year, we only had enough to make some grape jelly. We’re surprised at the length of time it takes for these grapes to ripen. As of August 12, they were only 17 degrees brix.

We harvested the Assyrtico on Aug. 24 at 21 degrees brix. The juice tasted very sweet and the seeds dark brown. The shoots had already lignified. Pressed enough juice to make about 2 gallons of wine. Inoculated with QA 23 yeast and there was no activity until we reinoculated 4 days later and added Fermaid. Checked to make sure there weren’t too much sulfites in the juice. Tested 35 ppm. It took a couple more days to really start fermenting.

Next year, we’ll use a different yeast, probably EC 1118.

Looking forward to a healthy crop next year after the vines become more mature

Harvest Pests Vineyard

Harvest August 2017

It’s been a wet Monsoon season. Almost twice as much rain as a normal summer. We’re really pleased with the Sauvignon blanc crop. The grapes are full and ripe. Insect pressure wasn’t as bad as last year due to spraying at the first sign of Rose Chafer beetles. There were very few Grape Colopsis beetles. One vine was found with Japanese beetles, which are very aggressive and inflict a lot of damage to the vine and grapes.

We harvested the Sauvignon blanc grapes at 23 brix on the 8th of August and the wine fermented for 5 days before going dry.

Yield                     185 lbs  =  7 gallons juice

Brix                       23 degrees

PH                         3.4

Yeast                    QA 23

Harvest Vineyard

Harvest 2016


2015 found us unable to take care of the vineyard. It was more important for a father to walk his daughter down the aisle in California than harvest his grapes. Even though I had help taking care of the vineyard nature dealt a fatal blow to the crop before it could be harvested. The bird net was never installed and the birds , rose chafers, bees and rot all took their turn.

2016 finds us in much better shape than last year. As hard as I tried to farm organically the Rose Chafers have overwhelmed me. I had to use an non organic spray to knock them down and control them. Too much work not to protect the crop. Petiole analysis shows the vine pretty much in balance.

The Sauvignon blanc was harvested Aug. 9, 2016.

Yield                     160 lbs  =  9 gallons juice

Brix                       24 degrees

PH                         3.4

Yeast                    QA 23

Fermentation   Aug. 10  to Aug. 17,  73 degrees

In Storage now               56 degrees


Spring vines 2014

grape clusters on vine
First view of the 2014 flower clusters.
Assyrtiko grape vine
An Assyrtiko vine located in the new block.

We have high hopes for the crop this year. The Sauvignon blanc vines are now 5 years old. This is the first year we’ve analyzed the leaf petioles. The results show an optimal balance with just a little nitrogen deficiency. Surprisingly, the potassium content in all vines is very high which is good for the development of the fruit.

Other news is that this is the first year we’ll be using quadrilateral cordons on the trellis. So far we’ve doubled the amount of shoots and fruit from this time last year. Hopefully we’ll see slower vigor from the vines throughout the season.

Last year, the Rose Chafers caused significant damage. In addition to the same beneficial nematodes we used last year, we’ll use organic Surround™ starting mid-June.

We’ve planted 30 new Assyrtiko vines supplied by UC Davis Foundation Plant Services in a separate block which should start to mature within the next two years. Check out the second photo above.


The crop

Harvest on August 11 was a success. Ladies and gentlemen… We have Sauvignon blanc.

bunch of grapes held by hand
this year’s grapes



This year’s bud break

IMG_0004 IMG_0005


The great grape dance


Winter in the high desert

Snow on mountains residing past the chiricahua foothills.
winter in the high desert

Planning for Spring

• Pruning

• Frost Protection

• Pest Control

Circle of light creating a round glow between foothills and mountains.



Pests posing as guests A.K.A: Rose Chafer beetles

These varmints showed up about a month before harvest. In the last two weeks, they began to eat at the canopy of the vines. The preferred method of eradication was placing a pheromone trap to lure the beetles away from the vines. This was done within the last week before harvest as shipping for the trap took longer than expected.

Grapes, Beetle, Rose Chafer, Vineyard Pest

  • These little pests arrived in early July.
  • Some skeletonization of leafs in late July.
  • Sprayed with neem oil and orange oil with little effect.
  • Placed pheromone traps in last week of July.