When I was out the other day taking the photos of the strange smoky weather, I hiked up to the new block of vines to the extreme western edge of the property. We planted about 6 new acres here earlier this month, divided fairly equally between Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, and two new clones of Mourvedre. We're in the third year of a six-year plan to plant an additional 30 acres, with the goal of gradually raising production from our current 16,000 cases to around 22,000 cases.
(I wrote about this in April's planting new vineyard post, where there are photos of the landscape and soils in mid-preparation.)
Now, with the vines in the ground, I was struck by how rugged life is for these little vines (like the Mourvedre "C" vine below) in an area like ours. The soil is obscured by limestone/clay chunks, and the ground is nearly white:
Of course, this struggle is what allows the vines to produce grapes with concentration and character, and I know it's a mistake to anthropomorphise the vines. But it was still a striking reminder of why an area like this, where the vines do struggle and vineyards produce 2 or 3 tons per acre can make wines of so much more distinction than areas where life is easy, average yields are in the 8-10 tons per acre, and farming can be done with machines and chemicals.