There are many ways of telling what a vine needs in the vineyard. On our visit, Michael took us into the Syrah at his Vineyard in Ballard Canyon and spoke to us about how the vines communicate with them. “We think of the vines as living beings” Michael says. The vines he says will tell you if they are happy, you will see them with tendril and shoots straight up reaching for the sun. You can tell by their vigor that they are happy and that they are getting enough water. When the vines are stressed the tendrils will droop and the leaves will turn away from the sun, because they don’t want to photosynthesize.
In addition they have moisture probes at varying depths and they can see how fast the roots are taking the water. If the vines are unhappy they can push the water deeper to get to the feeder roots and the tap root.
The leaves will also show you in different ways if they have potassium deficiencies or if there are nitrogen problems.
“The vines will tell you what they need” Michael says, “It’s up to us to read it and learn it’s language”.
The happy Syrah he grows here at Larner Vineyards is sold to other wineries in addition to making his Estate Syrah. But only the estate Syrah will be in the new “Ballard Canyon” bottles. You can stop by and taste his Syrah in Los Olivos at the Larner Tasting room in the Los Olivos General Store.