• Our Tasting Room is CLOSED & we’re moving to the Ranch – READ MORE!

Toad Hollow Vineyards Spring 2019 Newsletter

Have you ever wondered what goes into growing wine grapes?

We often think about how grapes become wine but there is a lot of planning and work happening in the vineyards to make sure the plants provide a good head start for those tasty clusters. Left wild, untrained grapevines will climb into tree tops or ramble on paths of their own design that will not necessarily yield fruit. But the wandering grapevine is always searching for sunlight. Good vineyard management keeps this vigorous growth in check and creates a proper balance of leaves and fruit clusters - keeping just enough leaf cover to prevent sunburn and promote photosynthesis while allowing just enough sun exposure on the fruit for perfect ripening.  

Much like deciduous trees, grapevines go dormant after the fall harvest and the leaves dry out and fall away, leaving the vines bare. The grape vines sleep from fall through early spring until bud break, which is when new leaves and shoots start to emerge. Late in winter, the vineyard crews come through and prune the canes, removing most of last year’s growth, choosing some young longer canes, which become part of the larger vine structure. Pruning styles and methods can vary greatly from one vineyard to the next, depending on the variety grown, regional practices, growing conditions, the age of the vines, preferences of the grower and many more reasons.
The time to prune also depends on the current weather and the age of the vines. Pruning shocks the plants a bit so initially, this can extend the dormant period somewhat but the pruning wounds stimulate a growth hormone which can help trigger bud break. Pruning too early can actually wake up the vines before the last frost date so careful timing is crucial to avoid the loss of tender growth to old Jack Frost. Each bud damaged by frost can mean the loss of 2 to 5 clusters of grapes, resulting in fewer bottles of wine! The period between mid-February through March requires following weather patterns and staying alert for early morning frost protection duty for vineyards susceptible to frost. This is achieved with overhead sprinkler systems and/or wind machines. Woe unto the vineyard manager who sleeps through the alarm clock while the irrigation lines freeze shut!
Pruning methods vary almost as much as vine training and trellising styles. Some of these photos show the popular “bilateral cordon” style of vine trellis with canes cut to 2 or 3 buds. The objective is to cut just enough of last year’s new vine growth and leave enough buds to produce the desired amount of growth for this year. Cutting too much means no fruit at all! Pruning styles are also influenced by the vigor or age of the plant. Some grape varieties just naturally produce more fruit than others, very young vines yield less as do older vines, and thus deciding to leave fewer or more buds also comes into play.

The ability to prune grapevines is a valuable skill and the men and women who do this hard work are praised for their knowledge and judgment. Many wine growing regions host annual contests with coveted honors and prizes of championship belt buckles going to the winners! Judges inspect the quality of pruning in addition to the time it takes to prune a vine row.

All of this vineyard work happens long before we even see any spring growth! After that, the amazing miracle of nature takes over, although influenced by the guiding hands of humans in hopes of a new and bountiful grape harvest. We realize its worth, as we repeat our efforts year after year and are rewarded with Toad Hollow’s delicious vintage wines!

Featured Recipe

delicious meal

Apricot Lamb Tangine

A quick and easy recipe inspired by the Moroccan dish, you won’t need the traditional cooking pot with a conical lid. This Tangine combines savory and sweet ingredients to make a delightful dish with a richly spiced sauce. It pairs perfectly with our Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir.

We Have the Winner of Our Fine Art of Fall Instagram Contest

In September 2018, for the second year in a row, we launched an Instagram contest in conjunction with our national retail promotion the Fine Art of Fall (#THfineartoffall). After much deliberation, the Instagram judges (aka our staff) voted, and we are pleased to congratulate Jennifer McSpadden Curtin of Healdsburg, California, for her winning image!

The Fine Art of Fall campaign invited Instagram users to post fall photos along with the hashtag #THfineartoffall. We asked for photos of people engaged in favorite fall pastimes. Toad Hollow’s label artist, Maureen Erickson, will incorporate the winning photo into a poster featuring our ubiquitous Toad.

Jennifer, who owns and operates the wine tour company Let’s Go Wine Walk, knows a thing or two about fall in Sonoma County. Her winning image shows Jennifer and her husband John, helping our Toad with a fall delivery of our luscious wines. Their sparkling enthusiasm definitely shines through. Jennifer will receive a framed print inspired by her photo, signed by both Erickson and Toad Hollow owner Frankie Williams.

Our next news letter will feature the final artwork created from Jennifer’s winning image!

To view all the fall photo contest entries, log into your Instagram account and search for #THfineartoffall. Follow Toad Hollow on Instagram at instagram.com/toadhollowvineyards
Man and woman standing next to a toad table
John and Jennifer

People Are Talking!

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2017 Monterey County Pinot Noir

"It’s challenging to find pinot noir that’s clean, fresh and less than $20. This wine delivers, with bright cherry notes that feel simple and healthy...  it’s pretty impressive. "

-- Joshua Greene
(Feb. 2019)
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Wine Pick of the Week

2018 Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir

“We enjoy rosé wines. Sure, many that we encounter are relatively undistinguished, but this one is not. We love it. . . . a serious wine within the rosé category—more like a good-quality French example from Provence, than a typical California rosé.”
Read More
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100 Top Value Wines of 2018

2017 Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir

#13 in Top 100.
Tasted and ranked for best price/quality ratio but also for best example of region.  
real toad with a glass of wine, illustration


Mr. Toad sat with his wife while she sipped on her glass of Toad Hollow Merlot, when she said, “I love you so much, you know. I don't know how I could ever live without you.”

Mr. Toad said, “Is that you or the wine talking?”

She said, “It's me talking to the wine.”