Blog: All About Barlow

Week of 1/22-1/28

This week continues with more rain! We believe the creek broke across the bridge over night during some big downpours. On Tuesday Dad, Zach, our winemaker Ignacio, and I met while Mom watched baby Emma (my youngest, born in September). We walked through all our new barrels for our Cabernet flat and hillside to pick out the best of the best for the 2023 Family Selection. We actually couldn’t decide on just four, which is our usual number. Out of almost 30 barrels, we chose 6 to pull for the Family Selection this year. We may pair that down before bottling, but the 2023 vintage is tasting fantastic.

The rest of the week was pretty similar as the past few, pruning, clearing trees, and regular maintenance. Zach tended to some seedlings that he started in the greenhouse. They are starting to sprout. We wont need to buy tomatoes all summer!

Another project I’m working with is something I’ve been trying to master for a while. I promised mom that I’d figure out how to etch some decanters and now I’ve got to figure it out. At first I tried using a laser etcher but glass has proven to be difficult. So I’ve tested using my Cricut to create a stencil for Armour Etch cream. So far I think I’ve got it. Now I need to use it for real. However, I think the wine club members will like it once I finally get it!

Alyssa Stoiber (3rd generation)

Week of 1/15-1/21

Keep on pruning! I wonder how many individual vines we actually have.

As I drove up valley this week, I can’t help but notice a grey haze that sits over everything. The ground is moist from the periodic rains we’ve had so it’s a safe time to have burn piles going throughout the valley. I believe they still have to have permits for these, but the smell of smoke is still a little weird. The burn piles are a way for vineyard owners to dispose of a large number of vines quickly. This usually happens when a vineyard has been ripped out to plant new vines. When we have a large pile of old plants to get rid of we use our woodchipper. Then we can reuse the woodchips around the property.

Not much else going this weekend besides some more rain. We had off and on rain throughout the weekend, with some heavy spurts. We love rain like this, off and on and consistent throughout the winter. Doesn’t put too much strain on the roads, water ways, and trees, but adds up for our irrigation reserves. It also allows for the cover crop to grow and growing it is! Mustard is popping up throughout the rows. I can explain the reason cover crop next week.

More about the rain, we also love that the seasonal creek on the property starts to run! We watch for the perfect time to get the family to do some boat races! We are close this year and will follow up with pictures as soon as it happens. The rule is, everyone makes their own boat (kids included) and we race them down the creek. Something we’ve done for years and we always look forward to. As long as we get enough rain!

Alyssa Stoiber (3rd generation)

Week of 1/8-1/14

Another week of Barlow winter brings another week of much of the same. Zach continues to prune. He’s going to spend the next month working his way through the vineyard.

A little bit about why we prune: Once the vines go dormant after harvest, they don’t focus any resources on growing. As it gets warmer the vines wake up and want to grow out of any previously developed buds. To make sure we get strong healthy vines with yummy fruit, we need them to focus on just a few vines per shoot. So, we prune the previous year’s growth down to one or two healthy looking buds per shoot, before it wastes any excessive energy.

Besides pruning, we got a few online orders, so we packed those up to ship out.

We got a little bit of rain off and on throughout the week. Saturday the mountain peaks in the north bay got 4-5 inches! The valley floor saw about an inch.  Next week we should be getting a significant amount more. Bring on the rain!

Alyssa Stoiber (3rd generation)

Week of 1/1-1/7

To start the year off strong, I decided to start a weekly blog to share all things Barlow. This will include everything from what’s going on in the vineyard, the weather, how our wine is progressing, to how sales are going, what tastings we are doing, and what new markets we may be pursuing. I’ll also include pieces about the family, since this is a fully run family business!

If you don’t know our story, head over to The Family page. It will give you an idea of where we started and how far we’ve come.

This last week, was a great start to the new year. We’ve had some periodic rains this winter, and this week was some more of the same. However, this week’s rain resulted in some good snow for the Sierras, which is essential for California’s drought. Zach and dad began the pruning process, starting with our small lot of Zinfandel, then moving on to the hillside Cabernet. With 36 acres of vineyard, pruning the vineyard is no small feat, so at some point we may hire a crew to come in and finish, depending on other tasks needed to be done on the property. Speaking of which, with this week’s rains and impending rains, other projects pop up. With three houses on the property and lots of trees, the rain gutters get backed up, so the guys worked on cleaning those out. Also, because of the soft ground, we always seem to have a few trees fall, blocking the road, every winter. This last week was one of those trees, so time was taken to clear that.

Besides vineyard work, behind the scenes, mom has been working hard on compliance, no small task this time of year. She manages all of the compliance for all our state reporting. This time of year, the annually, quarterly, and monthly reports are due. With every state requiring a different type of report at different times through the year, there is a lot to keep track of.

I, on the other hand, just try to get a few things done while the kids are still home from school for winter break. I got the email out with information about the Calistoga Food and Wine tasting in San Francisco. Let me know if you have any questions about that. I’m also trying to narrow down a fun craft project for wine club gifts.

Well, this is it for the first Barlow blog. I’ll hopefully get an update from the family out weekly. Thanks for reading!

Alyssa Stoiber (3rd generation)