View Archive The Sixteen 600 Blog By Sam Coturri

Category - Harvest,Seasonal,Vineyard
Posted - 10/06/2014 08:54pm
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Guest Blog-Harvest Memories pt 1
I’d be hard pressed to say, no pun intended, that this feeling resonates with everyone working for Winery Sixteen 600, but for me there’s something about the alarm buzzing before 5am that does the opposite of make me want to hit the snooze and doze off a couple dozen more times. For me, it makes we want to throw the down comforter off and jump out of bed, walk through the hallway with its beautiful but creaky original wood floors trying not to wake anyone else, and then tip toe into the kitchen to turn on the kettle to make up a pot of fresh coffee. Scramble up some free-range farm fresh eggs and throw a couple of pieces of bread in the oven. It’s going to be a long, hard, hot, sun-soaked day in the vineyard and a lack of a hat, sleep and/or calories will catch up to you pretty quickly if you’re not careful. Believe me, I’m not. It takes a couple days to get adjusted, and with what seems like as much wine poured at dinner as is sold by the wineries during the day its hard to get to sleep on time.

Fog lifting on an early morning at Nuns Canyon Vineyard in the Moon Mountain District

Maybe its because I’m only up here for a couple of weeks a year, or maybe its because those couple weeks are always during harvest, but there is a spirit and energy in the air that doesn’t have the same affect as life in Los Angeles, or any big city I’ve been to for that matter. The call always comes in last minute. I’ll get a text that says something like, “Ready to come up?” or “The sugars are getting up there.” Sure, by now I know the call will be coming any day as summer comes to a close, but in Los Angeles we only know that its happening because of the dates on the calendar. Unlike most of the country, the weather is a very poor indicator of anything. Once you get outside of the city this time of year, the children are back in school and the roads have quieted down of families on summer road trips. That exciting feeling of just being behind the wheel on the open road is incomparable to almost anything else I can think of or at the very least, say in mixed company.  It takes about an hour to get out of the city but once you do, that wave of joy from simply pushing down the pedal, turning up the volume, and looking out at fields on both sides of the highway is as if there is no end in sight to either your journey or the horizon. I’ve learned to be careful how many people I tell before I leave (mostly because I don’t have enough lead time), but without fail, everyone is ready to drop their cushy nine to five desk job, hop in the truck, and come North to get rocks and thorns in their shoes and soaking wet in the winery. “I’m coming up next year! ” they say. “I don’t even know if I’m coming up next year!” I reply. It so happens that I’ve said that the last two years and I’m afraid to say it again because I’m worried that will ensure that it does.

Heading North

Without fail, the first morning I awake in Sonoma, there’s always some work to be done, and it always starts at the same time: 6:30AM. When it comes to helping out on one of the picking crews, I’m one of the lucky ones. The managers have to set up in anticipation of their crew, so they get to the vineyards at about the same time I’m reaching around aimlessly for my glasses. There are bins to be delivered to the designated blocks, labels to be made for each bin, scales to be set up once the bins start coming in, and tractors to be arranged for a uninterrupted pick. So I’ve heard…I’m not actually there to witness any of this, I’m still making breakfast!




Guest Bloger Charlie Ron Pennes is a leading member of the self-described Harvest Reserves working his third harvest running bins in the vineyard and working the crush for Winery Sixteen 600. This year, we let him catch his breath a few times to take some photos. The Los Angeles native occasionally posts photos to his own blog

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Category - General,Cover Crop,Seasonal,Organic
Posted - 02/07/2013 04:20pm
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Winter in the Vineyard
Editor's note: This is the first in an occasional series documenting seasonal activities in the vineyard. Next up: Pruning.

The weather pattern finally changed today-much needed rain ending 6 week dry spell going back to 2012. It might seem obvious but we love the rain in the vineyards and not just because grapes need water to grow. In vineyard work, rain days are days to rest, time to catch up on office work or just catch up on naps on the couch.


The farmers woke up to rainy weather and got to enjoy rolling over and going back to sleep almost as much as the cover crops are enjoying a cool, winter drenching. The vineyards might be dormant but at Sixteen 600 we are in the height of the growing season, soil growing. 


Cover crop in the sun

Phil Coturri's grape growing philosophy starts with the soil and the roots. Phil's magic blend of seeds (bell beans, mustard and other brassica, clovers, a cereal grain like cayuse oats and other annuals) is spread after harvest every fall. These plants help the soil retain moisture, add nitrogen and nutrients to the soil and attract beneficial insects like bees and ladybugs. A successful cover crop leads to a successful year in the vineyard, a year with lush soils, biodiversity and ecological balance- the road map to great wine. (Read more about Phil's cover crop philosophy here)


Bell beans and oats

So while the cover crop (and the farmers) may have enjoyed basking in all that mid-winter sunshine, it was definitely time for some rain…and a nap.


 Smokey approves of the cover crop

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