Kiger Family Vineyard

Sonoma Valley


Early Harvest, Excellent Quality and Abundant Crop: Warm, steady daytime temperatures throughout the growing season brought an early budbreak, bloom, veraison, and our earliest harvest date on record, October 4. The Grenache clusters were huge, the Syrah clusters even and loose: 5.6 tons from our two Upper Vineyard blocks. We had a few new tricks up our farming sleeves, including leaving an extra (higher) bud while pruning, which increased fruitfulness. We also aggressively removed lateral shoots in the fruit zone of the Grenache ahead of bloom, and that yielded far less opportunity for fungal pests to move in, with far more opportunity for air and light in the canopy. We and our winery buyer are very pleased with both the qualitative and quantitative results. The wines from this vintage should be excellent. We did reserve a few hundred pounds of grapes for our own homewinemaking (and drinking) pleasure.

Lower Vineyard Redevelopment: Since removing all of the vines from the Lower Vineyard last November, the new vineyard has taken on a whole new shape -- literally! We changed the orientation of the rows 90 degrees to run up and down the hill instead of across it. We changed the spacing from 5’ x 9’ to a denser 4.5’ x 8’. We were also able to reclaim some previously unused space, and as a result, in late April, 1350 new vines began taking shape with the planting of new St. George rootstock; in Spring 2014, Zinfandel buds will be grafted onto the rootstock. First crop of Zinfandel grapes is Fall 2015. Nothing happens in a hurry in the wine business!

A Vineyard Odyssey: John’s book, “A Vineyard Odyssey: The Organic Fight to Save Wine from the Ravages of Nature,” was published in mid-June by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. He was invited to present excerpts from the book at University Press Book Store in Berkeley July. Bob Biale joined us and turned the book presentation into a wine tasting featuring the wines from our vineyard. Many thanks to friends (and some new fans!) that attended and had their copies of the book signed.

We purchased a small stock of books, so if you want one signed by the author and mailed to you, send John a note! If you want to buy the book in its print form or in e-book format from Amazon, you can click through to Amazon from the widget on the right. Barnes & also has it, and please let your local bookstores and libraries know they can carry it as well!

You can learn more about the book, see a larger photo of the book cover, and
read the introduction chapter here on our KFV website.

Vineyard Critters: Additions and losses, ebbs and flows. In May, we brought home a 10 week old, 20 pound Maremma puppy (photo below), and named him Marco (Polo!) He quickly became a “mini-me” to Francesco, who is now 7. We’ll have both dogs living and providing predator protection for the sheep in the vineyard over this winter. Nearly 9 months old now, and close to 90 pounds, Marco is showing independent and headstrong teenager-type antics, but is developing into a very good Livestock Guardian Dog. (Fingers and toes are crossed.)
Our flock of sheep remains at 7 noses / 13 ears. They are eager to move out of the nearly-barren summer pasture and into the vineyard, which will occur before Thanksgiving. One of our two barn cats, Minka, went MIA in June; we believe her to have been abducted by a gang of ground squirrels seeking retaliation for her role in their dwindling population. We lost hens Bonnie and Penny this Fall to a mysterious ailment, and have two new young red hens keeping Betty company.
New Photos Here

Sheep Education: Many winegrowers are seeking information about using sheep to graze in their organic vineyards and orchards. Deb and her friend/partner conducted their 5th annual Sheep School on November 2-3. Sheep School in the Fall and Lamb Camp workshops in the Spring are offered to give people hands-on experience and education and networking with others.

Wool: Deb has succumbed to the siren call of her inner artist, learning to create felted wool pieces as art objects and whimsical items. Her latest obsession is with creating natural dyes for the wool from plants on our farm, including blackberries, eucalyptus, grape leaves, and maple seed pods. Photos of wooly balls and more are in this gallery. Yeah! Who’d have thunk it?

Cheers: As always we’ve been fortunate to be able to enjoy our wine with plenty of our friends and family. We love sharing the love -- and our wines -- with them. Yes, we get by with a little help from our friends. Come on over!

Cheers, L’chaim, and Salute,

Deb and John

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Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the Sonoma Valley, 
lovingly tended by two people, a flock of Babydoll sheep, free-range hens, 
a barn cat, and two Maremma guardian dogs.

KFV News: Harvest Edition                                  November 2013

Francesco and Marco hunting grape clusters after harvest