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

Toad Hollow Vineyards Summer 2019 Newsletter

It’s Growing Season in the Vineyards 

In our last News at the Hollow, we talked about winter through early spring. After grapevines “wake up”, the buds burst open and new tender shoots start to pop out, growing daily by visually measurable amounts. If nature took its own course, the vines would sprout new shoots in every direction and become a bushy bramble. So it is up to the vineyard manager to avoid a tangled mess. The benefits of solid viticultural practices are not just for aesthetics. Intentional shoot thinning reduces crop load which intensifies varietal flavors and promotes the right amount of sun exposure on fruit for ripening. By choosing the main trunk and cordon (the main horizontal branches of the vine) height, the “fruiting zone” has an ideal height, is out of reach of hungry jack rabbits and creates a standard level for harvest workers who pick the grapes by hand. A different fruiting zone height may be chosen for a machine harvested vineyard, but all of these decisions are made well in advance.

Correcting the growth pattern of the shoots is done while they are still green and flexible. New shoots naturally grow towards the sky in search of sun light but eventually, then they become elongated heavier canes and fall downwards. When this happens, the vineyard manager decides to “snap the wires” which is lifting the horizontal wires running along the bottom of the vine row, and snapping them in place, towards the top of the stakes, catching the downward growth. This is done with teams up and down the rows and the distinctive “twang” sound can be heard throughout the vineyards, sometimes sounding like plucked stringed instruments.
Bloom and pollination are key to good fruit set and harvest. This happens late May to early June. Bloom is often so subtle to the casual observer, it might be missed. If you look closely you will see tiny flower buds that when opened look like fuzzy little star shaped blossoms covered with pollen and smell faintly of delicate jasmine. Grapevines self pollinate and do best with a light breeze or no wind at all. High winds or heavy rainfall during bloom can cause “shatter” or incomplete pollination. Grape clusters with this problem have inconsistent sized berries and some spots within the clusters where berries failed to form. Northern California had heavy rains this winter and early spring, but the vineyards dried out nicely and everything is on track for a wonderful harvest this season.

After pollination, flower clusters become rapidly growing baby grapes, reaching almost full size while still green. All wine grapes start out green. White varieties eventually turn pale green to golden yellow when ripe and red varieties will turn shades of pink, red, blue or deep purple while ripening. Veraison marks the point when not only colors start to change but also sugars increase and varietal flavors begin building.

Ripe grapes are not just sweet but complex with mature flavors and aromas that will end up in the finished wine. Timing of veraison can vary from one vineyard to another, depending on many factors including weather during the growing season. Hotter weather can bring this on sooner but generally, veraison happens between mid-July to early August in Sonoma County. All of the events during the growing season lead up to the anticipated harvest season. With careful planning and execution and the cooperation of Mother Nature, all vintages will be delicious!

Featured Recipe

recipe image

Toad Veggie Dippers

You can forget the escargot and frog’s legs! This tasty, healthy appetizer is sure to please even your foodiest guests. Prepare it ahead of time and heat before serving with your favorite dips. These “Dippers” pair perfectly with all of our wines, especially the award-winning Unoaked Chardonnay and Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir.

Calling all Summer Instagrammers!


We invite *you to take the Toad with you on your vacation to parts unknown and post Instagram selfies with him at your destination (#ToadOnTheRoad). Just go here and download the toad image. Print on sturdy paper and cut along the dotted line, and easy-peasy, he’s ready to take with you! Toad is the perfect stowaway, fitting in most handbags and all backpacks.

Toad has already traveled to Palm Springs, Brisbane Australia, and the Cayman Islands. We’ll record your selfie with the toad and where you’ve gone on the world map on our website page (listed above).

You don’t have to go far; you may be vacationing in your back yard or a mile away in your Airstream. Just let us know who and where you and Toad are.

* You must be 21 years of age to participate.

Follow Toad Hollow on Instagram at instagram.com/toadhollowvineyards
Bart Taylor with "Toad on the Road" Cut out for Instagram Contest

People Are Talking!

Wine & Spirits Logo


2018 Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir

The third consecutive year to receive this accolade! “This perennial favorite of a light, dry style at an unbelievably fair price, over delivers once again, showing a dry, acid-driven body of tart grapefruit, strawberry and candied cherry. Made entirely from the variety, it’s one to enjoy all day long.”
June 2019

GOLD Medal
94 Points

2017 Unoaked Chardonnay

Judged by some of the most respected North Coast winemakers, sommeliers, wine buyers and wine-industry writers, our Chardonnay was named “One of the Best in the North Coast AVA” by the Press Domacrat North Coast Wine Challenge!
April 2019
real toad with a glass of wine, illustration


A kind woman was driving home, when she saw an an old toad wearing a dusty blanket, walking on the side of the road. She stopped the car and asked the toad if he'd like a ride. The wise old amphibian thanked her and got into the car. After a few minutes, the toad noticed a brown bag on the back seat and asked the driver what was in it. The woman said, "It's a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband." The old toad thought for a moment, then said, "Good trade."