Wine Country Development

There has been a considerable amount of growth and development occurring throughout Temecula Wine Country recently. Stage Ranch has planted close to 25 ½ acres of wine grapes this season, along with revamping the 12 acres of soon to open Avensole. Planting more vineyards is great; it allows all of the wineries the opportunity for more fruit. Additionally, some blending varieties have been planted which allows more variety for our local winemakers. This means more Temecula Valley wines and more variety to the wines the valley produces.

As most of wine country falls within the citrus/vineyard district more development is positive because it means more agriculture and less home development which is a highlight that keeps Temecula Wine Country different from other areas. People are drawn to Temecula for its unique country feel and continuing to plant vineyards will help maintain this. Planting and maintaining the vineyards of wine country and producing great wines will continue to drive travel and tourism to the Temecula Valley Wine Country.

Stage Ranch’s Recent Development

  • The first week in May, 4 acres were planted for John Veness. This included 1 acre of Viognier, 1 acre of Vermentino and 2 acres of Chardonnay.
  • For Avensole Winery, Stage Ranch has revamped the existing 12 acres of vineyards. Additionally 3 ½ to 4 acres have been prepped to be planted. These additional vines are of Zinfandel, using 4 different clones for blending. When completed this will be a total of 17 ½ vineyards for Avensole Winery.
  • Fazeli Cellars is underway with planting the owner’s home ranch with 3,000 vines; half of these vines will be Viognier and half will be Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Stage Ranch has prepped 2 ½ acres of Sauvignon Blanc and 2 ½ acres of Chardonnary for the CSI development which will total close to 42 acres of vineyard.
  • Violah Heinzelman will have 4 acres planted, 2 of Cabernet Franc and 2 of Zinfandel.
  • 3 acres in Glen Oak Hills have been planted for Lorimar of Montepulciano vines.
  • All planting of these vines is planned to be completed by mid-July.

We look forward to the growth of these new vines and the high quality grapes that are sure to produce for the Temecula Valley.

2015 Growing Season

Forecast of this Growing Season

Stage Ranch has now completed sulfur rounds for the initial powdery mildew protection and will watch to spray different classification fungicide as needed. Additionally, there will be ongoing work to control weeds and protect the vines from pesky gophers.

Canopy management is underway. After the vigorous growth we have seen through spring canopy management is important to ensuring optimal grape growth and ripening by creating the optimal balance between sunlight, shade and airflow. As part of this process all of the tucking of the vines and raising of the wires has been completed in all of the vineyards. A new mechanical de-leafing machine is being used to open up the canopies for a little more sunlight and airflow in anticipation of the summer storms that have been occurring the past few years. The next step will be to use the mechanical hedger to remove any lateral shoots and shoots hanging over the upper wires.

Veraison has started on the Pinot Grigio variety as well as some berry softening in the Chardonnay.   A couple of the red varieties are starting to show some slight color as well. The De Luz Vineyards are ahead of the valley and are seeing some veraison in both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The Leoness Cellars crop is a little light this year with 2 to 2.3 tons per acre but the fruit quality is very good. Stage Ranch will be removing some clusters in the Los Caballos Vineyard as they are crowded. With all of the vineyards looking very good we are anticipating a good harvest with average yields of 3 to 4 tons per acre.

Due to the drought and the warm weather it is anticipated that grapes will be ripe and ready to harvest early.   Stage Ranch is forecasting an exceptionally early harvest from about mid to end of July. This is between 3 to 4 weeks earlier than what we would normally expect.

Wine Scores

The TVWM Winemaking and Production Team work hard to produce wines of the highest caliber in quality and integrity. This hard work has led to many accomplishments including these most recent Wine Scores.

Zilaro Cellars
2012 Merlot – 90 points Wine Enthusiast
2012 Barbera – 88 points Wine Enthusiast

2012 Merlot – 91 points Gold Medal LA International Wine Competition

Monte De Oro Winery
2011 Syrah – 92 points Wine Enthusiast
2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – 92 points Wine Enthusiast
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – 91 points Wine Enthusiast
2009 Reserve Syrah – 91 points Wine Enthusiast
2011 Petite Sirah – 89 points Wine Enthusiast

Leoness Cellars
2011 Meritage Red Wine – 93 points Wine Enthusiast
2012 VS Syrah, Fitzpatrick Vnyd – 92 points Wine Enthusiast, 90 points CGCW
2012 Syrah – 91 points Wine Enthusiast
2012 VS Syrah, Alessandro Vnyd – 91 points Wine Enthusiast
2012 VS Syrah, Vista Del Monte Vnyd – 89 points Wine Enthusiast

TVWM Best Practices

Cellar sanitation is crucial to the production of quality wines. Properly sanitizing the wine cellar and production facility helps to maintain the integrity and quality of the wine. Proper sanitation improves wine quality, consistency, aging potential and retention of positive flavor attributes. Ozone is a common sanitizing agent that can be used for cellar sanitation. This strong oxidizer is effective over a very broad range of microbes and leaves no chemical residue with a half-life of approximately 20 minutes.

We are currently using ozone in the cellar in different ways to help maintain a clean, sanitary environment. In barrels, ozone can not only help sanitize a just emptied barrel, but also limit and control any brettanomyces populations that may have found their way into the barrel. We are experimenting with cleaning stainless steel tanks with ozone water, as well as using ozone gas mixed with nitrogen in areas of the cellar to kill of any microbes and/or mold that may start to form due the humid conditions.

Stage Ranch Farm Management – Avocados, Citrus & Wine Grapes
A letter from Founder Gary Winder

Here at Stage Ranch we are involved with farming avocados, citrus and wine grapes which keeps us pretty busy during the summer months. Our crew has to keep up with the irrigation schedules, weed and pest control, pruning and a whole host of cultural issues as we prepare for harvest. One of the things we do in our citrus groves is to release beneficial insects to reduce the use of pesticides. Let me give you some examples.

  1. Lady bugs. We release 18,000 of these insects each week during the late spring and summer to help in the control of the Asian Citrus Psyllid and other pests in our groves.
  2. Tamarixia wasps. We work with the university to release these parasitic wasps to help manage other pest, specifically the Asian Citrus Psyllid, which will help in the spread of diseases in the groves

We also try to reduce the use of commercial fertilizer in our groves and vineyards by the application of mulch. We have several companies that send truckloads of composted organic mulch that we apply to our certified citrus and avocado groves as well as to our vineyards. We feel it provides us not only with great nutrients for the plants but also erosion control and soil health. This is a program we will continue to use and no doubt expand.

As I’m writing this article we have picking crews harvesting lemons and ruby red grapefruit. Most of our fruit goes to either Rainbow Valley Orchards or Sundance Natural Foods. It seems like harvesting activities are going almost year round and in just a few weeks the wine grape harvest will be in full swing. This is an exciting time for us since all our hard work for the year pays off as we see the full bins come in of beautiful wine grapes ready for crush. All our citrus and avocados are packed and shipped all over the U.S. and Canada but when it come to our wine grapes we get to see the finished product. That’s when it’s put in a bottle with a Leoness label on it!!!

New vineyards are going in this year. We are planting a number of new varieties totaling about 22,000 vines that we are working to get finished before the harvest gets started. That means clearing the land, laying out the vine locations, installing the irrigation system, putting in the stakes and wires and finally planting the new vines from the nursery. A lot of work to accomplish, but with a growing need for more wine we have to keep up with the demand!!

Many have expressed concerns about the lack of water here in Temecula. So far we are in good shape as we get most of our water from our aquifer in the valley and from the Colorado River. The farmers in the Central Valley are the ones that are hurting with a severe drought condition. Let’s hope for adequate rains this winter to help with their plight.

In the meantime let’s look forward to 2015 as a good year and a great harvest!!