[Noozhawk’s note: In early February, Will Henry told Noozhawk that he was about to plant the first estate vineyard for Lumen Wines, the label he co-owns and produces with Lane Tanner, and we jumped at the chance to document the process from Day One. Following is the eighth in a series about the life of a new vineyard by Noozhawk contributing writer Laurie Jervis and photographer Len Wood.]
Winter officially arrived this week, and along with their counterparts in vineyards across the Northern Hemisphere, the vines growing at Warner Henry Vineyard have entered hibernation.
During the coldest months, grapevines temporarily halt all green growth, instead focusing energy down into their roots. From when their leaves fall to the ground until the first growth of a new season — known as bud break, typically in March — the vines are at rest.
Lumen Wines, the wine label co-owned by Will Henry and Lane Tanner, will have its first estate vineyard in Warner Henry, a five-acre vineyard on 11 acres that Henry and his wife, Kali Kopley, purchased in 2018.
The project has been years in the planning, and was a dream of Henry’s late father, businessman Warner Henry, who died in August 2020.
Last week, I paid a solo visit to Warner Henry, as Will Henry had already traveled with family for the holidays.
Following the rains that soaked Santa Barbara County on Dec. 14, the vineyard’s sandy soil was dark with retained moisture.
It was clear where crews had seeded for cover crops down furrows the length of each vine row; here and there, short wisps of green announced early growth of the organic cover crop that will nourish the soil, year after year.
The vines that grew the fastest now have shoots long enough to turn into first-year canes. Come January, these spindly canes will be gently wrapped around and tied down to the trellis wire. Every spring, new shoots will grow straight up from the canes.
In November, Henry told me of his plans to utilize “biochar” — black carbon sourced from burning “waste wood,” such as old vines, plant residues or other agricultural waste products — that transforms the biomass carbon into a more stable form.
The technique, he said, “planted a seed in my head.”
While his young vines sleep away the winter, Henry will continue to research organic farming techniques and talk with other vintners, and come spring, put some of those ideas to practice.
Coming in January: Time to prune