The 2016 Sonoma Vintage Report took place on March 8th, 2017 at The Barlow Event Center in Sebastopol, CA. The Sonoma Vintage Report took place for a half-day, starting in the afternoon, and conference content was arranged to follow the plant calendar growing cycle, proceeding from winter/spring to fall harvest.
As the keynote speaker for the Vintage Report, Bob Cabral, Director of Winemaking for Three Sticks Winery, began by sharing his path to winemaking in the Sonoma area. Bob has almost 50 years of experience in the wine industry, which all started at the age of eight while growing up on a 70 acre farm in the San Joaquin Valley. He developed a focus on experimentation and technology after starting at the Hartford Court Winery and has continued doing so at his current role at Three Sticks. Bob emphasized the importance of sharing information and technological advances, pointing out that this is how the industry will progress.
The next speaker of the afternoon, Erin Miller, Winemaker at Twomey Cellars, discussed using dry wood biomass as a footprint of the vintage and how to use this information for vineyard optimization. The Physiocap scanning method, as implemented by Twomey and Fruition Sciences, allows us to see both the human vineyard footprint (shoots/vine) and the vine footprint (shoot diameter). Erin studied and shared the results of the Physiocap studies at both the Merino and Last Stop vineyards, managed by Twomey.
The day’s next presenter, Luca Brillante, PhD and Postdoctoral Researcher at UC Davis, explored common Sonoma vineyard-specific variability. In vineyard management, variability is a cost; this is why Luca and his colleagues are working to use field measurements, laboratory analysis, and geostatistical modeling to analyze the many factors impacting spatial variation.
Luca Brillante of UC Davis
The next speaker, Cecilia Cunningham, Consultant for Vivelys, discussed the Vivelys grape maturation measurement tools, the sugar loading period, and California data compilation results. Cecilia’s talk demonstrated the importance of keeping track of physiological ripeness in the vineyard for detailed block diagnosis and harvest forecasting.
Cecilia Cunningham of Vivelys
To wrap up the day’s presentations, Eric Herve, PhD and Research Scientist at ETS Laboratories, shared his insights on using ETS grape phenolic panels to compare vintages, sites, and vineyard experiments.
Throughout the conference, Thibaut Scholasch of Fruition Sciences provided his comments on different growing periods of the 2016 vintage. Overall the 2016 vintage started with a steady rainfall during the winter compared to 2014 and 2015 and saw plenty of heat accumulation across the Sonoma region. The large amount of rainfall in this recent winter leading up to the 2017 season may cause back-to-back years of high soil nitrogen availability enhanced by high mineralization rate due to wet soil conditions during wintertime. It will be interesting to analyze the plant response to this water and nitrogen during this coming growing season. We look forward to seeing you again next year to discuss this topic, and many others, at the 2017 Sonoma Vintage Report!
For more detailed information regarding the Sonoma results and discussion, as well as updates on the Vintage Report, please visit the official website of the conference.