Bottling, Viticulture and a Bargain all from Tom Kruse

(Part of wine 101 education is experience.  Part of the reason you recall a wine is from the experience you had it in.  And, lastly, part of reading this blog is to engage yourself in the experience of getting off the computer and trying something new.  This letter from Tom Kruse did that for me.  Hit that “read more” button for your experience.)


It is said that there are two kinds of weather in California. Nice or unusual. This Spring is defintely the latter. There is still some green in our hills and we’re approaching the middle of May! 

Our biggest threat is powdery mildew and to prevent this we spray the vines with sulfur. Usually we have an almost completely dry late Spring, Summer and Fall. No rain and low humidity make growing grapes in California easier than almost anywhere else in the world.

If you hear a California grape grower complaining then you know you’re just listening to a complainer. Yes, of course, we have concerns and worries but the weather isn’t usually bad. There couldn’t be a nicer place to grow grapes than Santa Clara County. 

In viticultural parlance we are a Region Two as far as heat summation in day-degrees. The nominal growing season for grapes is from April 1st to November 1st. The average daily temperature between high and low is measured and then 50 degrees is subtracted. That is the temperature below which shoots don’t grow. For each day then, there is a day-degree facture. If the first of April had a high temp. of 70and a low temp. of 50 then the average is 60. Subtract 50 from that and for that one day, the 1st of April, you have ten day-degrees. Every day is kept track of and the whole season is added together.

Region one, being the coolest, has 2,000 to 2,500 day degrees. Examples of that are Santa Cruz, most of Monterey County, the Carneros District of Napa County and so on. Region 2 is 2,500 to 3,000 day-degrees. All of Santa Clara County is in that range.

Region 3 is 3,000 to 3,500 and so on. Napa County has four regions in it, the warmest area being Region 4 in Calistoga at the North end of the county. There is no bay influence there and it is roughly as warm as Sacramento. 

The Cabernets Napa is know for come from a Region 3 area between Napa and St. Helena. Understanding this influences what variety you plant, what the row direction will be, North-South or East-West, and what type of trellis system you train your vines to grow in. 

Our rows run North-South and we employ a quadrilateral cordon system of trellising. This is to maximize the warmth and to control the inherent vigor of our plants in a very good soil.

When we first planted there was an excess of fertility in our soil and the shoots would easily grow six or seven feet. This is the 13th year of growing. We have not fertilized and our winter cover crop is annual rye grass. The vines have “tamed down” now so that the shoots (canes) are about three to four feet long when they stop growing in the Fall so then they can concentrate instead on making sugar for the grapes. If you have between three and four feet of cane length, with healthy leaves, that is usually enough leaf surface area to ripen grapes.

We are getting extremely good flavors from our vines and they are at the beginning of their prime.

More later,

PS – Please drive carefully, esp. not too fast on Dryden, we always want to be a good neighbor.

Bottling Event
Saturday, May 15th
Thomas Kruse Winery
11:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Claire’s Field Red
A Meritage Blend of Four Barrels of 07 Estate Cabernet
And One Barrel of 07 Estate Merlot.
(This is a Fabulous Red at a bargain price)

Bring a case of clean, corkable wine bottles or buy a box of newbottles here for $8.00. 

You can fill and cork 
or we will be happy to doit for you.

Sample Our Other Wines
Enjoy Some Delicious Treats
Listen to the Live Music of
“Piano Man” Frank Mendiola

(With your own bottles, by the case)
One Case $60
Two Cases $54
Three Cases $48