In the Vineyard: December 2009

Riverbench vineyard Dec 09 cropped

It is the time of year when we look to the sky above to provide much needed rainfall and for the first time in three years December has been wet. Only half way through the month and we have twice as much rain as last year’s December. The refreshingly clean rain from above will replenish our soils and provide excellent growing medium for our vines in the next year. The water recharges our soils, livens our cover crops, which in turn produce natural nutrients to feed the vines.

Vineyard operations are slow in December, but our planning and preparation is in full swing for pruning. Pruning is the single most important thing we do every year. At this point we can adjust for the next year’s yield, vine vigor, and overall canopy growth. Every grower will tell you experienced pruning crews and knowledgeable management decisions at this time can set you ahead of others or cause you grief you may feel for years to come.

I hope the time of year brings everyone much joy and the opportunity to share one of our local wines, grape growers will be in full swing preparing next year’s vintage…”in the vineyard.”

Jim Stollberg manages vineyards for Hampton and Maverick Farming Companies in the Santa Maria Valley. He can be reached at (805)310-9322 or


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