Getting there.

I’m excited to see so many bunches, and see them all developing a beautiful rich purple color. I ate one on Sunday- chewed it and spit it out at least. Definitely a grape- bitter- but with a hint of sweetness. Thick skin, flimsy seed.

Good things.

I‘ll close with this shot of the first turned leaf in the vineyard. A short while left for this season.

Annnnd now it’s Summer.

SO the vineyard is doing great! A ton of growth, pretty evenly across the whole yard, row 1 (North Row) is stronger, by about 25%, I have to chalk this up to its full sun and slightly better soil. But we have grapes on all vines!

You can see the evolution here- in their 2nd year fruit us present, and I’m super happy- as the book has said that it might take 3 years.  Either way you can see that from late April- to May we have the first fruit start to develop- tiny bunches of berries . After a month they’ve grown to hearty bunches- and as of just the other day they’re getting ell rounded, heavy and firm- Ill keep updating this as they grow!

And here is the vineyard as of 6/4. You can see the North row #1 (on the right) has quite a bit more volume of branches and leaves. However both rows are still producing well.

Spring has sprung.

So early March I started to see bud-break on all the vines. An amazing site as vines of McMorrow Cellars enter their 2nd year.

This is one of my 3 potted back-yard vines, in 2 weeks they really took off!

March 16th was the magic day, everything started exploding on or directly after that day. 

Now in early April you can see everything has really taken off, huge spurs and new stems all over!

Nice bark all over all stocks.

Tendrils reaching for the guide wires!


SO! It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to update you on McMorrow Cellar’s…partly because not much happened over the Winter months, and partly because we’re expecting our newest addition the cellars- soon the pitter patter of little feet will be heard running through the vines!

Anyway here are a few updates:

This is mid-December- we got a ton of rain which is awesome- so I got to turn the sprinklers off for a few months-  here you see the leaves in full Autumnal turn, and baby greens rising from the fertile soil.

Our left hand-South row- lost their leaves sooner- partially because they never did come in as strong as the North Row- and the gusty winds blew their leaves away faster.

Fall is Here.

So Fall is probably my most favorite time of year. The colors, the weather and the start of the Holidays. SO too now Fall now descends on the vineyard. I am starting to see the leaves change, and an over all slow down of shoot growth as they go into a period of root establishment. This is what the book tells me anyway.

Every vine now has bark, this #7 pictured above has become the most prolific vine in the yard. It’s stalk has thickened quite a bit and its bark is really strong. This is going to fortify it during the coming cooler months and get it through the frosty night’s/mornings of January and February.

I’d now like spend a few moments highlighting some of the other things growing in the vineyard. I left as many of the existing plants/trees/shrubs in their place when I installed the vineyard. Biodiversity is a good thing for the health of the vines and now that it is fall we have some really beautiful things growing in tandem with the vines.

Barking up the right Vine.

SO this week I’m starting to notice the vines developing bark! i know- exciting stuff right! Actually it is, bark is essential for the vines, it is the way they fortify themselves against the coming coolness and frost that winter brings. The book says you shouldn’t use any fruit the vines may bare if there is no bark present. Well I’m a ways away from there being any fruit, but fr sure bark is a good thing to see developing. 


This is the beginnings of bark on #3. The vine went from green to a nice purple and now I’m seeing it develop this pulpy fleshy bark. The stems attached to these leaves are turning a deep purple too, a sign that summer is coming to an end and I

l’ll expect to see the leaves all change with the season and eventually fall away. This first fall will be a time of another huge root growth, so I should see the stocks fatten up and the bark cover all of the vines and canes.


Here again on #3 you see canes coming off the cordons, there are several that are strong and these are going to be producing a ton of fruit for us dow the line, they’re growing straight up through the guide wires which is perfect. 

A look at Wire Training

First off- after 4 months in the ground- almost the entire vineyard is doing great.


Here is #1-5, cordons extending fully along the guide wire.


The trunks have turned from green to this purple/brown color indicating that bark is soon to show. A very good sign.


One of my replacements is ready to start training- I’ll detail it here.


This branch will serve as my Right cordon, as its the strongest and has the most growth.


This branch will serve as my left cordon.


Trim everything else off.


Tie the branch down using plastic garden tape, basically at every bud break. Which a this point is between 1-2 inches. Other more developed vines in the yard here are every 3 inches.


Here is a top view, this vineyard is good for about 1-1.5 inches of growth per day. So I am out here twice a week tying the cordons down. 


And there it is!

Ill check back and continue to tie it down as needed throughout the rest of the season.

More Progress

SO I’ve replaced #9 and #14. Took out the old vines and trimmed them down, put them in their own pots, and hopefully- I’ll get some renewed growth out of them. Meanwhile all the other vines are growing strongly, cordons continuing to lengthen as I tie them down. We’ve had a few really hot days recently, so I’m hoping that will be good for them.


#9 about to go, the new kid on the block in it’s improvised housing.


Nice deep hole- didn’t see any evidence of gophers or another mischief.


Easiest way not to disturb the root system, cut the bottom off the pot w/ a box cutter, place in the hole then slit the side of the pot all the way up- remove the pot and there it is, root system stays perfectly in tact.


Back in action, in he house, drip nozzle attached.


Put the old one in its own pot and trimmed it down- we’ll see if I can get a bud break out of it.


#14′s hole- ready to go- noticed the hard clay at about 13 inches down- so I broke it up a bit, give those roots a chance to break through.


Here is the new #14 in the dirt and ready to have its housing put on and its drip nozzle attached. 

A Death in the Vineyards

SO #9 has been having problems, for about 2 weeks now it has been limp and drooping and there had been nothing I could do to revive it- than a week ago #14 started doing the same thing- just like sudden vine death or some other weird phenomenon. Anyway after treating them with extra water, daily- which brought other vines back to life previously they were in real trouble. I gave them a healthy dose of Super Thrive with a bunch of water and some 16-12-16 fertilizer but to no avail- I have officially pronounced them dead. 



What is the most sure sign that they’re done for is the lack of any new or renewed green lower on the stock- these guys have had it and for no outwardly apparent reason. So I will replace them with 2 of the 3 extra bare-root vines I got, and Ill trim their old stocks down and try to bring them back to life in a separate pot, similar to the 4 I removed (3 of which now show new growth). I’ll document the transplant and post it shortly.

Training Begins

SO finally i took the step of cutting the tops of my vines and tying the best stems on the guide wire to start them on their journey to becoming cordons. It was heart breaking to cut the tops off- so much growth, and since its the first time I’m doing this I was taking a leap of faith that I was doing it the right way.

#3 before being topped

#3 cordons tied

They have taken well to the tying and I’m adding a tie at each joint, I noticed the  vine from the ground to just below the housing is turning a deep purple after a few days- this is the first step toward bark forming and really developing some fortification. 


#15 again

I noticed that from my 3 extra bare root vines that the one I shored up and covered under 2 inches of soil is performing much beet than the others which were covered only to the top of the stem, so next time Ill know to shore them deeper.

These 3 got less love than the 4 that went into the rows to replace the 4 that had been mis-pronounced dead- but they are a test of the virility of vitis vinifera. The one shored with 2 inched is on the far right, VERY noticeably outperforming the other 2.

Upward Mobility

After 30 days of being surrounded by soil to the tips, the new bare-root vines are ready to lose their shorings and receive permanent housing! I picked today- June 8- Forecasted to be in the 90º range as their day. All 7 have new strong shoots and are reaching toward for the heavens. #6, #16, #19 and #21 are now set up with their stakes, dippers and housing, and will be on the daily 25 minute schedule. The 3 spare vines are doing great in their individual buckets as well as 3 of the 4 that had previously been pronounced dead are showing new signs of life. I’m deciding what to do with these- perhaps put them in a trough with their own trellis in the backyard. We’ll see. 

Here are the spare 3- I learned that shoring up the vine with soil 2-3 inches above the tip was the best move, I’ll keep that in mind for the next vineyard.

the old 4- 3 of which have bud break, we’ll continue to monitor their progress. 

New Additions: Progress

After 17 days in the ground, Im finally starting to see some growth from my new vines! There are bud breaks on all 7 new vines and I’m happy to see them. They are beautiful. I think this weekend I’ll take off their support boxes and put their soil back into the ground around them, I’ll put their houses back around the, and steak it in and see what happens.

New Additions

After 4 days of keeping my new Bare-root vines in the garage, misting them gently with clean water 4 times a day and generally giving them the life of luxury- it was time to put them in the earth. 

I dug hole 12-14 inches deep, removed the old vines- and planted the new ones over a cone-shaped mound of fresh soil, back filled them in with more new soil and temped them down, leaving the graft union 4-5 inches above the ground. I used Nature’s Own, an organic garden soil made by Miracle Grow, and made sure they soil in their hole were at least 50% moisture- then irrigated them each with ¼ gallon of water w/ a Vitamin B1 mix.

Per Nova Vine’s instructions I covered the remaining vine all the way with loose soil, so that none of the vine is visible- I rigged up some cardboard houses to surround the vines to fill with soil so they’d stay covered. Ill remove the soil and place their housing on w/ a guide stake when the first new growth comes through the soil. I put the extra 3 vines in their own buckets and did the same with them incase they are needed, as well as putting all 4 dead vines in they’re own bucket just to see if I can resurrect them. I trimmed them and watered them with Super Thrive to see if they can sprout again. The main issue I could see is that the roots hadn’t ventured out past their original potted cone- they just didn’t set in the dirt.

Here you can see the 4 that didn’t make it- I trimmed off there dead leaves and we’ll see what they can do!


SO today I got my 7 replacement vines from NovaVine. These are bare-root stock. The same strain of Cabernet Sauvignon 1103P, just without pot or dirt. Immediately I noticed the branches are much thicker and have bark on them already, the roots are super strong and hearty, and the graft unions are extremely strong. They came in a bed of damp wood shavings, as they are supposed to stay moist.

Ill be keeping them in the garage until either Friday or Sunday, in order to adjust them to the climate here at McMorrow Cellars- 4-5 days is recommended. I really am only going to plant/replace 6, as 6 are now officially dead- and the 7th I’ll plant in its own pot and keep it as an auxiliary. We’ll see.


SO the vines have been in the Earth for a month now- I am officially pronouncing 6 of them dead# 6,12,16, 19, 20 & 21. I really can’t say what has caused them to fail so badly- Each vine has gotten the exact same treatment. 

I contacted NovaVine- and they mentioned that the expected failure rate of their vines is 2%- I am at 30%. SO they have graciously began the process of sending me 6 replacement vines- Barefoot this time as opposed to the Potted grafts I received at first. They insured me that the stronger root system of bare root vines will make them heartier- so Ill wait for them and see- they should be arriving the first week of May- I’ll have to leave them outside for a few days to acclimate them to the climate -as they are coming out of cold storage and immediate planting would put them into shock-

In other news I went through and took care of all the tiny leaks in the irrigation line, which meant replacing several sections of my main 5/8″ line and resetting the corresponding 1/4″ stem lines. I also switched out a few drip heads, as some were streaming rather than dripping. 

I also added a stair to the raised area where 19,20 & 21 are for easier access when walking through the vineyard, as well as pruning some surrounding trees, plants and our large and over-grown Yucca tree.


 This is #2 and #3


The Topography

I put together this topographic map of the vineyard- which I can use to more efficiently track growth progress of specific vines as well as the vineyard as a whole over time. 

SO here we have the elevation’s of the vineyard plotted in feet above sea level, as well as each vine’s placement, and a numbering system to more easily call out specific vines.

The Weather

The Vineyard is at 112 ft above Sea Level, Facing North along an East/West axis. With a commanding view of the San Pablo Bay, and gentle breezes from the bosom of the Pacific Ocean. Pretty much a perfect wine-grape growing climate.

I keep track of the weather report every day, and record the stats. Im still considering how best to transmit that via this blog- but I am recording it.

The Irrigation

SO popular wisdom prescribes 1 gallon of water, per vine, per day for the first 6 weeks. We’re in a crazy drought currently- so I decided to cut the plants to 1/3 of a gallon per day per vine- and I was watering them by hand with a can every morning…not sustainable. 

We installed a water-budgeting drip irrigation system over this last weekend. Got all the stuff from Orchard Supply Hardware. We’re using RainDrip line and heads. 


We’ve got 1 Gallon Per Hour Compression Drip TIps on vine.


Im running them straight from a main 5/8″ line into the back of their housings. 


Basically wrapped 1 long line around the entirety of the vineyard and ran 1/4″ lines off to each vine.


Ran it underground a few inches when it came to walkways. 

SO thats our irrigation system! We’re running it for 22 minutes each morning at 6:00AM, so they’re each still getting 1/3 of a gallon per day.