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You’re interrupting my Sonoma summer…for this?

You’re interrupting my Sonoma summer…for this?

I will soon be sharing images of the re-construction of an iconic Cabernet vineyard in the next blog post. But while we wait for the newly planted vines to grow, please enjoy this short sampling…

scenic view

This is the project we’ve been working on all summer, with old vine Zinfandel and new Petite Sirah and the recently planted new Cabernet block. What a view into the town of Sonoma and down into the bay.

digging vine holes 3 – road view

And this is the ‘before’ picture. Steep slope, boulders, rocks, red volcanic soil. Someday, this new Cabernet block will look just as spectacular and produce a gorgeous Sonoma Cabernet.

digging vine holes 6 – close up

It is really hard work to dig the vine holes in the heat and on rocky terrain.

grape vines 4

This is what a bundle of new Cabernet grapevines look like. They are “dormant benchgrafts”, sound asleep, fresh out of the cooler. More on that another time.

Cab Sauv FPS 30.1 110R (vine tag)

The vine tag indicates the variety is Cabernet Sauvignon, clone is UC Davis Foundation Plant Services clone 30.1 (the famed Disney Silverado clone) with rootstock 110R (very drought tolerant).

irrigating 1

A protective grow-tube is placed around the plant. And the water flows. A great sense of relief.

grape vine 1 week later

In ten short days, the vine has sprung to life!

grape vine 2 weeks later

And in twenty days the new vine has pushed out of the grow tube reaching for the sun. And another iconic Sonoma Cabernet vineyard begins it’s life, soon to be delicious wine at your next meal.

Bonus Round! KSVY Sonoma radio, you made it this far. Now for the fun stuff…

KSVY Sonoma radio (Simon Blattner, Ken Wornick, Rick Wynne)

Am I on the air?

From left to right, the infamous Sonoman Simon Blattner, special guest Ken Wornick (yours truly) and smooth operator and radio host Rick Wynne enjoying a commercial break during “The Morning Show” on 91.3 KSVY Sonoma.

You can listen right now to the ‘grapes and wine’ segment of “The Morning Show”  Click here and go to minute 26

Sonoma Grower’s BBQ

Hydeout Sonoma and Dysfunctional Family Winery attended the annual Sonoma Valley Vintner’s and Growers annual member’s BBQ and “launch the harvest bell ringing”. Had a great time visiting with our fellow vintners Muscardini (Michael and Kate), Landmark Cellars (Tom and Michelle Rouse), Nun’s Canyon (Kimberly Hughes), Beltane Ranch (Lauren Benward Krause), and the incomparable Sondra Bernstein.

Click here for an 8-second video of Sonoma Grower’s Harvest BBQ



Snakes are a rare sighting but sometimes the swallow something large (see the swollen middle) and cannot move off. In which case, they become the focus of much conversation and observation. The camouflage is amazing, right?


Back home at the Hydeout Sonoma ranch, summer is veggie time. But that new Cabernet vineyard project kept us busy. Forgot all about these carrots. A wheel barrow and a trash can full! Turned them into a delicious carrot soup. 

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more blog postings on the world of grapes and wine.

Sonoma Firestorm – Part 2 – Analysis, Recovery, Celebration

Sonoma Firestorm – Part 2 – Analysis, Recovery, Celebration

With mother nature, life always follows death…

In my previous blog, you saw images of the terrible firestorm and resulting destruction in Sonoma.

In “Sonoma Firestorm – Part 2” we visit a fire-damaged vineyard near Kenwood springing back to life just one month later. And meet in the Sonoma town square to thank first responders.

But first, a reminder of where we came from just one month ago…

The continuing personal impact on some is hard to measure. These photos are from the Warm Springs Road area, close to many of my client vineyards…

Many vineyards were either spared from from the fire, or actually blocked the fires from advancing – by cutting off the fuel supply. However, some vineyards did burn, and here we see a vineyard a few days after being burned during the firestorm. Note that all of the ground cover and much of the leaf canopy is either burned or charred.

And the first few feet of vine trunk is quite scorched…

This fire also destroyed all of the drip irrigation system, including riser pipes, hoses, and drip emitters, leaving dripping plastic residue on the ground in its wake…

And destroyed every drip emitter…

And some very large trees burned and fell into the vineyard, including this epic California Bay Laurel…

We enlisted the help of the several agencies to help us assess the damage. The Sonoma Resource Conservation District helped us develop an erosion control recovery plan. Below, Project Manager Justin Bidell and Resource Planner Anya Starovoytov walk the damaged site collecting data, taking pictures, and advising on recovery plans and funding sources…

Justin and Anya point out that the fire even chased into plastic drainage culverts, burning underneath several access roads…

And looking at this close-up image of a charred grapevine trunk, you might think that this vineyard would be lost and need to be replanted…

But dig down to check the condition of the vine roots and we find in most cases no damage at all…

Amazingly, just one month later, we find everything is roaring back to life!…

And rain brings welcome moisture and renewed growth…

And the cover crop in between the vine rows explodes back to life, and the grapevines respond accordingly, soaking up moisture, swelling buds, and going into dormancy…

And the return of power at the winery allows us to get back to work. In this photo, wine that had been resting in stainless tanks has been moved into oak barrels where it will rest in the caves for the winter…

And one month later, although many friends are homeless, or know someone who lost a home, the vineyards and wineries and the town of Sonoma are bouncing back to life. And we can still find small things for which we can all be grateful…

The town of Sonoma celebrated on Saturday night, November 19th, with a Sonoma Town Hall holiday lighting ceremony, awards and standing ovations to the first responders, great music, and this wonderful tribute from Amy Miller, Artistic Director of Transcendence Theatre Company:

Video: Sonoma Square and Amy Miller from Transcendance Theatrer

Other links on this topic:

Ways to support those who need help

Did vineyards help save wine country?

A look at 22 wineries that sustained damage

Search and Rescue teams news

Tourists encouraged to come back!