Winter is slowly waning

It has certainly been a wet winter here in Santa Barbara County. We have received more than 33 inches (84cm) at the vineyard since September, more than 230% of our average annual rainfall. The vineyard weather logs that Charlotte Young meticulously kept indicate that this winter seems to be the wettest since the winter of 82’-83’.

In a lot of ways, all of this water has been amazing for the vines and for the surrounding ecosystem. Although a bit chaotic, the first rains were a breath of fresh air for the valley. The large storm in January saturated the soil profile, filled the local reservoirs, and began to percolate and replenish the aquifers beneath us. The sequential storm systems continued to bring precipitation to our landscape. As soon as the earth reached full saturation, dry creeks began to flow, in fact the creeks and rivers that typically rest dry throughout the year have been flowing since January. All of this water is certainly a needed gulp.

The vineyard has absorbed almost every inch of the 30+ inches of rain it has received. One of the gentlemen that lives below the vineyard commented on how big of a difference the vineyard’s no-till landscape has made on water infiltration and the lack of soil erosion in the last several months. We’re proud of that. We’re proud to make a positive impact on this little patch of 10 acres we tend. We’re proud to be noticed and respected by a fellow farmer who has had a relationship with this land for much longer than we have.

All of this rain has truly refreshed our vineyard. The salts and bicarbonates have been flushed out of the soil profile and have diluted themselves back into the aquifer. The microbial populations in the vineyard’s understory will begin to reestablish their enzymatic functions and increase their populations as they are no longer being repressed by the high salinity content that has accumulated at the soil surface over the last several years of drought. The vines will no longer struggle to respire or photosynthesize as they try to outcompete the salinity absorbed into their plant tissue. They’ll be able to absorb nutrients more readily as the root hairs aren’t being clouded by the presence of excess bicarbonates. At least for now. Eventually, the cycle will repeat itself again.

Until then, we can’t help but be grateful for all of this rain. The early season rains replenished our aquifers, and these later season rains continue to keep our soils saturated so that the vines wake up from dormancy with indefinitely moist soils. We’re hopeful for larger yields this year, great canopy growth, and an impeccable 2023 harvest. It is truly too early to anticipate how this year’s growing season will shape up, but as a farmer, I think we’re always optimistic. We have to be.

Let’s talk about last year and the new wines available now!

2022 was a fairly mild growing season until the classic California September heat spike. We’re getting used to this now and I’m feeling more confident about making a picking decision that will reflect positively upon the finished wines. We started picking on August 27th at Ibarra Young and finished the last pick with the help of our good friend on September 10th, in a thunderstorm, in two day old clothes, in 100% humidity, and after about 3 donuts each. The other vineyards we source from eventually finished up around the middle of October. We ultimately had a pretty drawn out harvest.

I think the biggest difference between v 2022 and v 2021 was energetically for me in the cellar. I felt at ease. I fully felt confident in the decisions I made along the way. I’ve learned to let the fermentations lead and for myself to follow. This calm and complacent energy certainly translates into the finished wine. It all felt natural and I think the 2022 harvest made my best wines yet. There is a density in the wines, particularly from Ibarra-Young that I haven’t yet been able to achieve. I was finally able to gain the sugar ripeness in conjunction with the correct balance of acid at harvest. I think this has everything to do with our old vines finally adjusting to the new way we farm. Which leads me to introduce you to 6 new wines being released for the 2023 SPRING OFFERING


Thank you for getting this far in my note to you! Thanks for enjoying our wines, sharing our story, and making our world go round. We appreciate you!

All the love and gratitude,

Alice and Topher

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