Taking a look at the yearly activities allows our consumers to see what goes on in order to deliver the finished product. Starting out at the beginning of the year, January brings much rain to the area. Here on the hill the vines are dormant. In the winery we are racking. February is spent pre- pruning the vineyards to get rid of excess canes. During March, workers revisit the vines for a second pruning and or a late pruning for frost. January, February, and March are typically quieter months that allow for several business trips and wine events off premise.
April and May are the time of the year for early morning wake-ups. During these months we must insure that our frost protection is up and running in order to safely protect our buds. We protect against frost in two ways, over-head sprinklers and wind machines. In April 2008 we experienced extended front during budbreak. We had a freeze that lasted several nights and days. Instead of producing 4,500 cases that year we had a total of just 2,300 cases. Budbreak is a crucial time of the year.
As June rolls around we seem to always see a lot of bottles rolling around too. Each June family and friends participate in our annual bottling. Though this event usually only lasts 2 days, the crew is always happy to see the last case sent down the conveyor belt. June also marks the time of year when auctions are in full force. The Howell Mountain Wine Auction raises money for the small K-8th Elementary just down the road from the winery. This school provided the education for all three of the Dunn children, and so much time, planning, and concern goes into the annual auction held at the end of June. The event provides people with the opportunity to taste some amazing Howell Mountain wines that otherwise might not be available. (howellmountain.org)
July marks the month for two important birthdays: Randy and Mike. This month also yields to some time for Mike to get off this mountain and head up to another mountain for some rest, relaxation and mountain bike riding. Back in Angwin, the temperature is rising along with the sugar levels. This is also the time of the year where we send out our annual mailer and start waxing those Howell Mountain bottles so that they are ready for shipment during the cooler months.
August, September and October are the crunch months – or should we say crush months. Activities consist of getting crush equipment ready, testing grapes, and hoping for good weather. Once harvest has started everyone pitches in picking, crushing, pressing and pumping over. Barreling down the wines may start in October and continue into November. Day in day out, Mike is hard at work on the crush pad and in the cave. During breaks in the noisy machinery you will catch a few notes from a song Mike is signing as he prepares for his next gig. Once the harvest over, equipment is cleaned and put away till next year. In November and December we begin racking the wines and the cycle starts anew. And once again, we are able to leave the winery and participate in more tastings, wine dinners and business trips.