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David Girard Vineyards

Grayson Hartley
June 26, 2015 | Grayson Hartley

Winemaker Notes - June

As I may have mentioned earlier, we’ve made great strides towards farming our beautiful estate vineyard organically. While environmental stewardship and a healthy, living vineyard are obvious benefits, we’re also in search of the highest quality, most robustly flavored grapes. By removing synthetic chemical pesticides, providing nutrition through cover crops, and paying even closer attention to our farming practices, I’m convinced that we’ll achieve new levels of grape quality – and thus even better wine!


El Dorado County, with ample sunshine and dry summers, is among the best places in the world to grow grapes organically. The two biggest challenges? Weeds and mildew. The solution to the former is simple but expensive: remove weeds manually or mechanically. We’ve done this on many of the flatter blocks in the front of the property by running a fancy “weed knife” mounted to the back of the tractor (it has a sensor that pulls it back as it approaches a vine), but we’ve continued the traditional practice of spraying herbicide in the very hilly and rocky blocks out back. For mildew, we spray an organic mineral oil that eradicates any spores that it encounters. Since it works on contact we have to obsess over spray coverage, working the vines diligently to open up the canopies. This also increases air flow and sunlight penetration, which are key to a healthy, thriving vine as well.


Anyway, I’m super-enthusiastic about the changes and I love talking about it. I hope to see many of you at this or a future release party wherein you’ll indulge me to geek out a little more on our farming practices. In the meantime, enjoy these wines!


2013 Reserve Grenache

Our Reserve Grenache showcases not only our Estate vineyard, at 1400’, but two other properties in different soil and elevation. The Swansboro vineyard sits atop a schistose plateau north of Placerville at 2500’ and was planted in 2005. At the 2700’ Fenaughty Vineyard, first planted in the late 1970s, vines grow in a volcanic loam, deposited eons ago and standing in contrast to the coarser, granite-based soils in surrounding areas. Despite the difference in elevation, the latter two vineyards were harvested before the Estate in what has turned out to be a classic year for El Dorado County. The wine is an equal blend from the three vineyards and boasts great texture and complex, red-fruit flavors.


2013 Reserve White

This wine is a new project for David Girard Vineyards, and represents the pinnacle of our efforts with white wine from our Estate. 2013 was a warm, sunny year, though with enough retained acidity to preserve the brightness of the Roussanne, Viognier, Vermentino and Grenache Blanc equally represented in this blend. Aged in French oak barrels – 20% new – for 11 months, full malolactic fermentation occurred, adding roundness without losing the vintage’s precision. The resulting wine is lush and full, yet sprightly, with each grape contributing noticeably to the complex flavors. Enjoyable now, and expected to develop gracefully over time.


2012 Syrah Reserve Fenaughty Vineyard

Now known as a standout site in El Dorado County, the Fenaughty Vineyard is a picturesque, top-flight terroir at 2600’ in Camino, CA. Red clay soils of volcanic origin lend themselves to a structured wine with much aging potential. A cooler site due to its aspect and elevation, this is the last Syrah we harvest. In 2012 it came in at the end of September, when it was de-stemmed and crushed into small fermenters, putting its trademark electric purple color on display. The wine received a relatively short maceration, and was put to barrel only four days after finishing fermentation. Once there, it was left on its lees until bottling, to preserve the aromatic purity and add textural layers to this lovely Syrah.



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Vineyard should be taken care by periodically in order to make a high quality raw material for the wine makers. There are several important process to follow from the vineyard processing to fermentation.

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