Alvaro’s Corner – How We Farm

Alvaro Medrano

I first met Ken and Marilyn Riding when they were clearing about 40 acres of land for a vineyard in the hilly area of the Adelaide west of Paso Robles. Ken was looking for a vineyard manager and I had been working in the vineyards in the Paso area for more than 30 years. I walked the site with Ken and immediately saw the potential for growing premium quality wine grapes in the steep slopes of the calcareous soil. We made a deal and I became the first vineyard manager for La Vista Vineyards. I’ve been working with Ken and Marilyn now for four years.

2010 was La Vista’s fourth leaf and we had a very successful harvest in spite of tough economic times. We started harvesting our Grenache Blanc in early September, 2010 for Amy Butler’s Ranchero Cellars and Steve Lock’s Ecluse Wines and finished with the Mourvedre in early November, 2010 for Hug Cellars. All totaled we harvested about 77 tons of first rate premium grapes for wineries in and around the Central Coast and found a good home for all of the fruit.

The winter rains started shortly after the last fruit was harvested so that meant that we had to start our winter preparations immediately. Barley was seeded in every other row. Straw bales were placed in all of the strategic water course areas and loose straw was placed in the roads between the blocks. Barley was hand sown into the straw for better erosion control. Waddles and erosion fences were placed at strategic places on the sides of the hills and at the bottom of the slopes. November and December, 2010 brought us about 18 inches of good rains that came with no erosion issues at all! Compost was added to several of the blocks and the rains helped to drive the nutrients toward the vine roots. All of the upper blocks were pruned while the lower blocks were only pre-pruned in preparation of potential frosts.

2011 will be La Vista’s fifth leaf and I have high expectations for the fruit crop. The vines are well established, we have the great soil, great sun aspect, and plenty of good quality water. I believe that the key to premium quality wine grapes is balance – balance the roots, the canopy and the fruit. And that is my job and I’ll do it well like I always do!

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