Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
11.26.2013  
 

Crew Wine Co. Experiments with Trellis

Hanging curtain trellis system designed to improve grape quality, reduce costs

 
by Jon Tourney
 
 
“crew
 
Karl Giguiere, co-owner of Crew Wine Co. and JK Vineyards in Yolo County, Calif., walks among an experimental planting of 2-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines that use the hanging curtain trellis system.
Dunnigan Hills, Calif.—Crew Wine Co. in Yolo County, Calif., is experimenting with a newer, non-traditional trellis system on 110 acres of vineyards that were planted in 2012 and designed to produce a larger number of smaller, looser clusters for red grape varieties to reduce vineyard production costs and enhance wine quality.

Called the “hanging curtain,” the trellis is a high-wire system with installation costs similar to a more conventional vertically shoot-positioned (VSP) trellis. The vine trunk grows up a 6.5-foot-tall stake and is trained into a unilateral cordon from the trunk along a cordon wire at the top of the trellis. In addition to a higher cordon, the trellis diverges from VSP based on cane training and shoot positioning. Instead of being trained straight up (as with VSP), the canes are trained downward and draped across two wires below the cordon wire—then to an even lower wire, located about 1-foot above the irrigation drip line.

The goal is to create a long, loose curtain of leaves to shade the fruit but allow better air movement to prevent powdery mildew and Botrytis bunch rot. This design should produce a wall of fruit spread throughout the curtain, enabling more even ripening of each cluster. Smaller clusters are expected to produce more concentrated flavor. Vineyard spacing is 8 feet between rows with vines 6 feet apart.

Crew Wine co-owner and vineyard manager Karl Giguiere said there is additional cost and labor to train the vines during the first three years, but once in production, the goal is to save money on mildew and mold control. And since the leaves and canopy are spread out, it could also save on leaf-removal costs. The vines can be mechanically hedged for the initial pruning pass to save on overall pruning costs. Giguiere said the trellis also offers good potential for managing high vigor.

The first crop from the hanging curtain is expected in 2014. The trellis trial involves 40 acres of Petite Sirah, 30 acres of Petit Verdot, 27 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and smaller plantings of Tempranillo and Tannat. The grapes are intended for Crew Wine’s Matchbook and Sawbuck brands.

“Cabernet Sauvignon is all about quality, and we still want to get good tonnage at a reasonable cost to match our $10-$15 per bottle price point, with yields of about 8 tons per acre,” Giguiere said.

“With the labor shortage and increasing costs, we’re looking for more affordable ways to increase or maintain quality and still give the consumer a great wine at a reasonable price. That’s the challenge,” he added.

A pioneer continues to innovate
Karl Giguiere helped pioneer wine grape growing in what is now the Dunnigan Hills American Viticultural Area in Yolo County. He began planting grapes in 1981, prior to starting R.H. Phillips Vineyards in 1984 with his brother, John, and John’s wife, Lane. R.H. Phillips, which introduced the Toasted Head brand, grew to become one of California’s largest production wineries prior to its sale to Vincor International of Canada in 2000. Vincor later became part of Constellation Wines.

The Giguieres started Crew Wine Co. in 2005, not far from the original R. H. Phillips site. They also own sister company JK Vineyards. The two operations occupy about 2,100 acres, with about 1,350 acres of vineyards and additional acreage under development. Vineyards are mechanically harvested, and operations are mechanized as much as possible. Karl said about 20% of JK Vineyards’ current production supplies grapes for Crew Wine, and the remainder is sold to three primary winery clients: Constellation Wines, E. & J. Gallo and Bogle Vineyards. JK also farms olives for olive oil production.

Giguiere admitted there are still unknowns with the hanging curtain trellis, but he believes it could be retrained to a more conventional system if it doesn’t work out.

A 110-acre experiment is a large trial by any standard, but Giguiere has always been an innovator and a student of viticulture. He has experimented with numerous trellis systems, irrigation regimes, grape varieties and the mechanization of vineyard operations.

Giguiere heard about the hanging curtain concept from a viticulturist who visited R.H. Phillips. With some adaptation, Giguiere planted some acreage with the hanging curtain at R.H. Phillips before he left the company in 2005. Current owner Constellation Wines continues to use the trellis and is producing wines from grapes grown with the system. Commenting on his new, larger experiment, Giguiere said, “We could learn some things along the way.”

Another early source of information was international vineyard consultant and researcher Dr. Richard Smart of Smart Viticulture, based in Australia. Remembering some advice from Smart, Giguiere said, “He used to say, ‘A grower ought to devote 10% of their acreage to experimental vineyard projects.’ Of course, he wasn’t the one who had to pay the bills.”

Crew Wine expands production and facility
Crew Wine recently expanded production facilities at the winery near Zamora, Calif., in Yolo County with additional barrel storage, tank fermentation capacity and a new vineyard equipment and maintenance shop. A tasting room and office facility is under construction, with plans to open the tasting room in mid-2014. Crew co-owner Lane Giguiere said wine production has grown to about 90,000 cases annually, and the 2013 vintage could total 100,000 cases.

Crew Wine’s four brands and primary varietals are:
Matchbook: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah and Malbec produced from estate vineyards;

Sawbuck: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec produced from Yolo and Mendocino County grapes;

Mossback: Russian River Valley appellation Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Chalk Hill appellation Cabernet Sauvignon;

Chasing Venus: Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris from New Zealand. The wines are distributed in 39 states, Canada and China.

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $557 million
5%
$7,577 million
6%
July 2013 $533 million $7,128 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $61 million
9%
$1,674 million
10%
July 2013 $56 million $1,517 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 312
10%
222
19%
July 2013 283 187
     
 
MORE » Released on 08.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • August 30 - September 1
     
    Columbia Gorge Open House Weekend
     
  • September 5-6
     
    Windy City Wine Festival
     
  • September 11
     
    Women for WineSense "Women in Wine"
     
  • September 12
     
    Direct to Consumer Wine Sales
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Ledger David names first winemaker »
 
What a joy to have Kiley on the team! A lot of exciting things happening...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Useful Spanish for Wine Harvest »
 
you misspelled "zona" under Loading Area
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Early 2014 Grape Harvest Begins »
 
Thanks for mentioning Temecula and the South Coast appellation in your article. It is great...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
All these arguments could be levied by any industry associated with any gTLD, new or...
Reader: Doug Barnett
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
Do brands get hijacked now? Even though .wine does not yet exist, are there false...
Reader: Larry Chandler
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Fine Wine/Spirits Sale...
 Albany, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Wine Store - Sales Ass...
 New York, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Retail Store Manager
 Centerville, MA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Importing / Purchasing...
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 Customer Service / Adm...
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 Visitor Center Represe...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Administrative Assista...
 Santa Rosa, CA
General Administration and
 Assistant General Mana...
 City Of Sonoma, CA
General Administration and
 Tasting Room Associate
 Livermore, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Harvest Help
 Sebastopol, CA
Winemaking and Production
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.