Good Fruit Grower

February 15

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30 FEBRUARY 15, 2014 GOOD FRUIT GROWER He's not lost any vines to winter kill, although he had a light crop one season due to bud damage from frost in early May. The average growing degree-days for the vine- yard, a measure of the heat units, is 2,829. Last year was a very warm season, and he recorded 3,287 GDD. The top layer of soil, wind-blown loess, is a sandy loam. Underneath the loess is alluvial sand, gravel, and sedimentary material deposited from the Lake Bonneville Flood and Missoula Floods that occurred during the Ice Age. "The site is very low vigor and the climate quite dry, receiving annual rainfall of 10 to 12 inches," Wasem said. He controls canopy growth through irrigation, but notes that between the sandy loam soil and riverbed rocks underneath, "irrigation water just disappears." The high soil pH of 8.0 to 8.2 limits uptake of some micronutrients important for fruit devel- opment and affects fruit set. "Clusters are gen- erally not as full as those in more vigorous sites, and berry size is naturally on the small side," he explained. "But there's usually no need for color thinning." He adds composted horse manure annually to help improve organic matter in the soil, and he also uses foliar sprays to add trace minerals. Clarkston's only winery Wasem and winery partner Lynn DeVleming opened Basalt Cellars in 2004 to bring locally produced wine back to the region. Although DeVleming completed the viticulture and enology program at Walla Walla Valley Community College, Wasem said that because of his pharmacy and chemistry background, he became winemaker "by default." In addition to Wasem's small vineyard, DeVleming also has two acres of wine grapes used in the Basalt Cellars wines. "Although we are slowly growing our pro- duction of estate wines, thus far, most of our wines are from grapes sourced from Walla Walla, Sagemoor Vineyards, and the Yakima Valley," he said. "Some of our vines are still young, and we don't want to push them to produce too soon." In the first year of business, Basalt Cellars produced 1,500 cases. Buoyed by great reviews and awards, they quickly ramped up production to 2,200 cases. "But we discovered that selling 2,200 cases in Clarkston was diffi cult," he said. "We're the only winery in town doing tastings and tours, so there's not a hub of wineries. Without outside distribution, it was hard to market all of the wine." Wasem and DeVleming have since scaled back to 1,800 cases for annual pro- duction, a more manageable volume to sell through their doors. Seventy percent is sold through direct sales at the winery and their wine club. The rest is sold to local restaurants and in regional markets. Wasem has learned that most dis- tributors are not willing to handle small wineries unless the winery accepts dis- counts. "We're not ready to start doing the discount thing." Surprisingly, they sell quite a bit of wine to California. "It's our biggest state for shipping," he said, noting that ship- ments are usually repeat buys from customers who visited the winery. Wasem said that in addition to wine competitions in the Pacifi c Northwest, they also enter several judgings in Cali- fornia. Wine competitions like those held by the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunset magazine, and Grand Harvest in Sonoma help generate publicity in California. They are most proud of awards for best of class and double gold for their 2008 Cab- ernet Sauvignon from the Grand Harvest competition. • "All of our wind machines are Orchard-Rite ." "All of our wind machines are Orchard-Rite ® ." —BOB BAILEY Orchard View Farms The Dalles, Oregon )*"()**( &)$*#* ")&&%)$*%'"* %!*( "%!)$*$&)(*#'*#)&**%)$** *#*#&*%!*( "%!)$*(&)*& "(&%') %'"*'")*'#'(&'*)('&)*")*#*$#'$* %!*#&*#& "(&$*#')!*(&*(!*'")*'#*'(&' "($*'()!*(*#*'")*)$$*#&*#'*# &#') '%!*'"#$)*(&)($* '#*'(&'*%$*&)%()* (!*$()$*) ")*$)&% )*)*)' &#* ($ ()*%! ( "%!)*)&% )*%$ &)('* ($ ()*%! ( "%!)*)&% )*%$*( $#%* #(!*") "()*'")*$()*)#) )(&*%!*(!*)(&*#' "% "*()$*%'*)($*'# #*$%!)$$*'#)'")&* ))*)*"()*(*&)(' #&%!*&)('%#!$"% $$++(!) )!())++*#% '#*&$$&' ( )+(!(+(!+)+%' ) +'#*&"%&"*" %$%'++(! ( (++**# '#*&"'&*%*$ +! )+)+%%" ) +'#*&*"'&#"$ Wind Machine Service For your nearest representative: Cascade Malbec waits to be picked at Rick Wasem's Basalt Cellars vineyard. "Winemaking is in my genes." —Rick Wasem PHOTOS COURTESY OF BASALT CELLARS

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