The 2017 growing season at SJR represents another big step forward in our estate farming practices. The mini-head trained (MHT) system was launched this year! In a year that had to overcome the coldest winter on record as well as scorching, extended periods of heat in July/August, we experienced less vigor, less need for water, no mildew issues, no sunburn issues, earlier lignification of canes and more consistent berry ripening within the fruit zone.
Harvest lagged the last couple years by one week in the Syrah, Grenache and Viognier blocks. Yields for the red blocks were roughly three tons/acre this year. Over the next two years, the permanent, single trunk “goblet” architecture within all red blocks will be facilitated by Brooke. Consistent control over each plant’s fruit zone and yield is realized; given the inevitability of harsh winters and the perennial wood advantages of the MHT system.
The infrastructure for the two new Syrah blocks went in over the spring, and the larger of the two blocks was planted to support the MHT requirements; (4x 9 row spacing and irrigation plugs set one foot off each plants center point).The new Syrah Entav #470 block will receive plants next year. This addition brings SJR to just over 10 planted acres and the estate now totals 13 acres.
One thing is sure…the MHT system has proven a viticultural step forward for the Rocks District and its distinctive growing conditions! And, SJR Vineyard is the only vineyard east of the Cascades with perennial wood…thanks to Brooke.