Many hands make light work in Riverbench Vineyard in Santa Maria, California, about an hour north of Santa Barbara. Throughout the year, the vineyard crew tirelessly farms 240 acres of vines. From pruning to harvesting, these workers put in long hours keeping the vineyard productive and healthy.
When most people think of the work that goes into harvesting wine grapes, picking is the first thing to come to mind. But there are other jobs for the vineyard crew during harvest.
In the plant world, a tendril is a thin stem or leaf with a thread-like shape that climbing plants, such as the grape vine, use for support and attachment. Ancient vines twined tendrils around trees, whereas today they grow around intricate trellis systems in the vineyard. These tendrils have the ability to perform photosynthesis. Continue reading
The pollination of little grapevine flowers almost immediately leads to a phase called “set,” where the fruit actually begins to appear on the cluster in the form of very small grape seeds, and berries to protect them. Continue reading
Shortly after the grape cluster appears and grows a bit larger, which takes anywhere from three to eight weeks, tiny fragrant flowers appear all over it. This very important phase in viticulture is called “bloom.” Continue reading
The immature Pinot Noir cluster emerges from the bud. “Pinot” refers to the pine cone shaped cluster seen here.
This photograph depicts the bud at the very beginning of bud break, when the first leaves enclosing the tiny bud have just begun to unfurl. The fuzzy leaves help to protect the fragile immature cluster from frost and disease.
After the growing season has ended and the vines are bare and dormant, they need to be carefully pruned in order to sustain the life of the vine and ensure the production of another harvest.
While enjoying your scenic drive through wine country at the peak of grape growing season, you may only notice the full leaves and the beautiful fruit on the vines. But when the vines go dormant, their basic anatomy is revealed to the interested onlooker.
Author and poet, Gertrude Stein, may have written one of the most memorable phrases when she penned, “Rose is a rose is a rose,” but this lovely blooming beauty is far more valuable when its function in the vineyard is taken into consideration.
Annual grasses like barley are commonly used for reducing soil erosion and increasing frost protection. Perfect for cool and dry growing areas, barley is often found throughout Santa Barbara County.