Sunday, March 11, 2012

Campo Creek

Pete Anderson: Pruning 101
I stumbled upon San Diego Amateur Winemaker Society and in the forums found wine classes being taught by Donn Rutkoff at Cuyamaca College! When I got in touch with him and he invited me to a pruning session the East County Vintners were having!

Outdoor pruning fun with Syrahs

Saturday was absolutely perfect for this! Donn and I carpooled to 29556 Highway 94 Campo. I had a soy latte in my hand (does coffee affect wine tasting?) as we left civilisation and started winding around the lush hills, talking about wine and what nots.

Pruning lesson

When we got there, they had already did introductions and going about their society business. A bunch of these folks were taking Donn's class and knew him pretty well. Soon after, Pete Anderson began his lecture on pruning, a subject I knew nothing about. However, it was definitely informative as it went through the basics and it also covered pest, fungi etc! 

So just this lecture of pruning took about 45 minutes. And he did not even go into the gory details! Imagine learning all of this in a full blown UCDavis course! Makes me appreciate the knowledge needed and effort being put into wine making.

Snippety snip!
Lecture done and out we go! This live demonstration and hands on work really helped solidified what everyone learnt in class. Pete gave his advice on what to do in each situation and answers any questions 'students' have in the field. Even the dog was attentive! After the demonstration, everyone got a chance to get their hands dirty and prune Bill's plot of syrahs.

Designated the photographer for the day, I did more photography than pruning (which might have been good thing). Even then, the one arm Rodeo Johnny (Bob's grandson) and Lis from Maness vineyards were guiding me and before long, I got the hang of it and started pruning too! Easy peasy! Don't count the bud near the cordon (woody part), count two up and SNIP!

While pruning, I was collecting a few canes with little buds to try propagating them at home(More on that later!).

As noon approached, the happy pruners started trickling back to the barn as their stomachs began to call for lunch and some wine. Everyone was told to bring a dish and a bottle to share. I brought a Hedges CMS from Washington State and fresh baked brownies!

The food was amazing with cabbage rolls, fresh guacamole with corn and beans, grilled spiced sausage sauteed with onions and peppers. Yummmy!

However, the wines were obviously the stars though. The most impressive being the home brews! in particular, the Campo Creek Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the Potrero Primitivo/Syrah blend and Syrah, Edwards Cellars and Carson creek Syrah. Other notables include a 1999 Chateauneuf du Pape from Chateau de la Gardine and Maness vineyard port (also local!). My wine of the day was definitely the Potrero Primitivo/Syrah blend. Fruity and spicy, well balanced San Diego wine!

From left: David, Janet, Bill, Richard, Pete and Donn
There was also a tasting of primitivo/zinfandel brewed by two of the members (Richard and David) from the same vintage of Janet's Vineyard. Richard's brew tasted younger (more grape juice like) than David's, which had an interesting metallic taste to the wine. They were my first home brewed wines and I could definitely taste the potential!

Dania and I

By the end of the afternoon, everyone was jolly and bottles were empty. Goodbyes and hugs were given as the merrymakers began to make their way home. All in all, it was time well spent pruning, eating, tasting and making some new friends.

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