We've gotten approval for our expansion plans, and should start construction sometime in the next week or two. This third and final phase of our building will include more fermentation space, a new room for our foudres, more offices, more and better parking proximate to the tasting room entrance, and a new larger tasting room that will be integrated into the winery, with walls of windows looking into the winery and giving everyone who comes to taste a feel for what's going on that day in the cellar.
Yes, we're excited.
We'll be landscaping the parking in a way that should be attractive, with a continuation of the limestone wall that we have around our parking area now. But in order to make room for the parking, we realized that we're going to have to co-opt about one-third of the head-pruned Mourvedre block that is just inside the entrance to Tablas Creek. We had a surveyor come out and mark the line where the limestone wall would run, and then Neil, Ryan and David set about saving the 119 ten-year-old Mourvedre vines that would have to go.
The first order of business was to uproot the vines, hopefully with enough of their root system that they could get re-established in their new home. On March 13th, Neil and David broke out the backhoe to try to get the vines safely out of the ground:
You can see a little more clearly the challenge of the project with a closeup. The first few vines came out largely de-rooted, but by a dozen or so vines in we'd managed to get the roots more intact.
We eventually managed to get 119 vines out of the ground. Their new home was to be the area around the straw-bale tractor barn in the middle of the vineyard: a frosty but fertile spot that seemed well-suited for Mourvedre.
The next day we got the vines back into the ground around the straw-bale barn. And then we waited.
Mourvedre sprouts late anyway, and we'd replanted the vines in one of the colder spots in the vineyard. Plus, the diminished root system has to further delay the vines. But as we got well into April without seeing any signs of life, we started to get worried. But in the last few weeks, more and more of the vines have sprouted. We're now at about 75%, and hope to see growth on close to all of them within a few weeks. The vines in their new home:
and one more:
Will the vines make it through the summer? We don't know. We know we'll have to give them some water from time to time while the root system gets itself established. But David, who is usually pretty pessimistic when it comes to estimations, thinks that most of them will survive. And that's pretty cool.