Do you know Caleb Mosley? If not, you should really find a way to meet him. He’s a pretty amazing cat. Particularly as he’s still so young, given the responsibility that rests on his shoulders. You see, Caleb is the Vineyard Manager for the Monte Bello Vineyards. Pretty heavy-duty. And it’s just plain rare to find someone his age who displays all the knowledge, skill, passion, dedication, and prowess that he does. But it’s not really any of that that will strike you; it’s the gravitas, the juju, the instinct, the old man mojo; it’s like coming across a 20-something kid with a guitar who can perfectly conjure Son House; not note for note, but the spirit. Caleb’s like that. He’s got deep, deep mojo.
And on top of that, he’s a really kind fella; very giving of his time, and very humble about his knowledge. So it was no surprise to me to get a call from him last week, asking if I thought the Monte Bello Tasting Room team would be interested in a pruning tutorial. He and the crew were going to be in the middle vineyards (the vines behind the tasting room) on Saturday, and he was offering to take the gang out. Needless to say, there were more than a few takers!
We met at Caleb’s truck, from which he issued gloves and clippers to all.
After a quick look at some rootstock, and a brief chat about grafting …
… he herded everyone up into the vines. As we moved past the merlot and petit verdot, Caleb talked beneficial crop cover, and integrated pest management.
Notepads were out, ears were glued. But as this was to be a pruning tutorial, we headed on towards the Cabernet Sauvignon, as it hadn’t been pruned yet.
First stop, MY vine! My beautiful VineWatch vine!
Caleb walked everyone through the tremendously high-stakes process of vine assessment; what to cut, what to leave. It might sound simple, but make a mistake, and the vine could suffer for years. Caleb talked everyone through identificative terminologies (cordon, cane, spur, head, shoot, tendril, bud, etc.), then broke-down our primary methodology: head-trained and cane-pruned. Once everyone got the rhetorical hang, it was time for action. Enter me and my vine. It was time to prune my baby!
That done, it was time to put the full gang to work. Everyone got their gloves on, their clippers in hand, and prepared for their marching orders. Caleb had everyone break into pairs, and gave each duo a vine.
The MBTR Team Pruning Movie!
If the 2011 Monte Bello just happens to be particularly, legendarily fantastic, make sure to thank a member of the MBTR team. They worked damn hard out there!
That said, and in all seriousness, I think this experience gave us all an ever-deeper appreciation for the knowledge base that resides within the heads and hands of our esteemed vineyard crew; they make in seconds key decisions that took us agonizing minutes to worry over, and their decisions affect production for years to come. Judging by the long and fruitful history of Monte Bello, they’re doing an amazing job!
Cheers to the vineyard crew for being so utterly, wonderfully brilliant, hard-working, and knowledgeable, cheers to the MBTR team for not only getting out there and getting into the trenches, but for being so dedicated as regards enhancing their own knowledges bases for the benefit of our guests, and special thank-yous to Caleb for his generosity, his wisdom, and his mojo.