We are high touch grape farmers; our vines get a lot of individual tender loving care. Our clusters are carefully selected and those that don’t meet our standards are dropped. Each selected cluster gets a single one-meter shoot to provide the photosynthesis need to produce the correct flavors. While most wine grape farmers use hedging machines to mechanically trim their vines, we shape or trellis by hand; each shoot of each vine is hand trimmed to one-meter length and hand tied vertically to its trellis system. We hand pluck leaves to assure that each cluster receives the proper amount of sunshine. Grapes and clusters that ripen early or late are removed by hand at veraison to insure consistent ripeness at harvest. Precision farming protects our environment and insures that each vine gets individual care. All 20,000 of them.
Farming isn’t easy here; it takes a steel tracked “crawler” tractor to navigate our steep slopes. Our vines are on 3-foot centers and our rows are 7 foot wide to allow safe tractor passage. We dry farm our vineyard, irrigating only after harvest and under special conditions such as late season heat spikes. We use a dual drip irrigation system so we can supply nutrients individually to each vine when needed. We plant a specialized legume rich winter cover crop each fall to control erosion and provide natural fertilization. Our well-drained mountainside location keeps our crops naturally small and our quality naturally high.
Our vineyard manager, Cesar Hernandez, joined House Family Winery in 2003. Cesar was formerly vineyard manager at Cooper-Garrod Vineyard and has decades of experience in wine grape farming. Cesar closely coordinates with our viticulturist, Daniel Roberts, and our winemaker, Jeffrey Patterson. Cesar manages a crew of 8-9 workers who farm Old Oak Vineyard and The Mountain Winery vineyard, which is managed and partially owned by Dave House.