Things To Do Before The Day Of The Harvest

Sonoma Wine Harvest 2014For someone with a home vineyard the most important and what is also probably the most hectic and stressful task, is harvesting time.

Harvest comes once every year and making the necessary preparations is the key to a successful harvest day. You can shop for vineyard supplies at Cameron &Cameron Inc. for the most reliable products.

Not At The Last Minute

Your prep starts 7 days before the harvest time. Your job is to get the weather report, get a week’s forecast. You are looking for whether the day you picked for harvest is under threat by Mother Nature. If it is you will have to make small changes to your harvest plans.  Getting the fruit out of the field before the weather conditions present a torrent of rain over the field is one additional thing that you may have to do.

Tend To Your Vineyard

There is no point picking in a vineyard that is suffocated by weeds and the equipment that you allow lying around just because it is more convenient for you. Remember the basic rule of anything, the cleaner the place the easier the task. Apart from de cluttering the rows you need to make sure that you fill holes in the ground so that your busy pickers do not trip and hurt themselves.

You Need Pickers, Start With Volunteers

Anyone can volunteer as pickers. Remember when you are deciding on the date of the harvest don’t pick one according to when you are free but a date that suits the fruit that will be harvested. Let all your friends know that you are looking for volunteer pickers. Put out an email, professional pickers do the standard ton a day but volunteers can usually do up to a quarter of that. Offer a brunch or something after an hour of picking. The idea is to make the whole practice look as fun as possible.

You can also attract pickers by offering them a morning of wine education and vineyard fun.

Check Again

You need to confirm the details one last time. The 24 hours before you time of harvest make sure that your fruit is in perfect condition. You can do this by making sure one last time that the fruit has the accurate level of ripeness.

This also helps you decide whether you will have to pick the grapes earlier than the time you decided if you see the acid plummeting in the fruit. If you are practicing home wine making than a refractometer should be good enough to give you an exact measure of for making a Brix based decision.

Vineyard Supplies | Thinning Shears Pros and Cons

Hi there. Chuy Lopez here with Cameron & Cameron here to talk to you today about thinning shears. A growing trend I’ve seen in the past four to five years is that a lot of wineries and management companies are straying away from your standard hook knife, and we’re starting to go with a thinning shear. The pros to a thinning shear, you have less of a chance of a worker getting hurt, you’re gonna get less debris into your totes and into your bins. It’s just gonna be a better quality pick.

The first thinning shear I stock is made by Bahco. The good thing about Bahco is that you can go back and readjust it. It’s got a nut here so that you can tighten it after a long day’s work when it tends to get a little loose. Second option I stock is made by Corona. It is stainless steel. It’s made in the States. If you have a thicker stem that you need to cut, like let’s say with your cabs, this will hold up a little better than your Bahco. The last option I stock is a knockoff of Corona. It’s made by Vaca, also stainless steel. If you have any other questions, feel free to give us a call here at the office.

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Vineyard Supplies: Picking Lugs

Hello. This is Gerry Cameron at Cameron & Cameron, here to talk today about picking lugs. We have two styles of lugs. We have the OSHA approved 30-pound picking lug, and then we have the old faithful, been around for years, 40-pound lug. The difference between the two is, the 30-pound lug is going to help you at later on in the day. Your back’s not gonna be quite as sore, it is still stackable. It stacks differently than the 40-pound lug in that it stacks up and down and not cross ways. The 30-pound lug is what most ranchers are going to nowadays when they ask for the new ergonomically correct lug, is we’re referring to this gray 30-pound lug.

The 40-pound lug is what has been around for years. The history of the lug is it used to be a much heavier-duty thicker fiberglass picking lug. It is a stackable lug, differently than the 30-pound lug in that it stacks cross ways; goes from here to there. It’s a little more stable when you stack ‘em. You can maybe stack several higher, several high in the 40-pound lug. We do carry both in stock here at Cameron & Cameron. We look forward to answering any questions. Feel free to call us anytime. Thank you.

The Sonoma County Wine Library

Sonoma County Wine LibraryDid you know that the Sonoma County Library has a special service and collection known as the Sonoma County Wine Library? If you ever find yourself in need of an article, bibliographic reference, and/or photograph related to wine, or if you’re simply looking for some piece of wine information, visit the Healdsburg Regional Library at 139 Piper St., on the corner of Piper and Center.

The Wine Library at Healdsburg Regional Library began in 1988 and contains approximately 5,000 books on wine and wine-related subjects, as well as over 80 subscriptions to wine-related periodicals. It also serves as a business and technical library for the Sonoma County Wine Industry, which helps fund it, and acts as a historical archive of wine history, with a special emphasis on Sonoma County.

Wine Files

A side project of the Sonoma County Wine Library is the Wine Files, which can be accessed by clicking here. According to the Sonoma County Library website, the Wine Files project is intended “to make its [Sonoma Library] clipping files of articles on wine, winemaking, grape growing, the wine business, and the history of wine accessible on the World Wide Web. The items in the database include citations, abstracts and links to articles in the technical, academic, trade and consumer wine magazines and journals. There are also citations and summaries for newspaper articles, government documents, press releases, advertising brochures and other ephemera dealing with wine.”

Sonoma County Visionaries, Immigrants and Winemakers

Sonoma County Visionaries, Immigrants and Winemakers is one of the Sonoma County Library’s Heritage Collections’ most interesting historical references projects. It is an online collection of local, historical images that are related to the Sonoma County wine industry, beginning in the 1870s and continuing into the 1990s. The images within this collection give viewers a glimpse at the wine makers and wine-related companies of Sonoma County, from the past and in the present. Click here for more information.

Biblioteca Vinaria Sonoma

Another part of the Sonoma County Library’s Heritage Collections, Biblioteca Vinaria Sonoma includes a wide range of historical texts on all aspects of viticulture and winemaking. In it, you’ll find proclamations of George III on wine regulations as well as old letters describing grape production in local area vineyards. Click here.

Other intriguing and significant aspects of the Sonoma County Wine Library include wine labels, 16mm films, more than 1,000 rare wine books dating back to 1512, and even transcripts of interviews with winemakers, growers, and other notable figures in the Sonoma County wine industry.

One of the main goals of the Wine Library is to attract new patrons to explore the resources available to them. Some of the many events that happen in the library each year to raise money include The Annual Meeting, Appellation Tours, Fireside Chats, and Sonoma Odyssey.

If you’re interested in joining the Wine Library Associates of Sonoma County or would like to learn more about the events mentioned above, call (707) 433-3772, visit, or write to The Wine Library Associates of Sonoma County at PO Box 43, Healdsburg, CA 95448.

Drones In Agriculture?

RMAXUnmanned aircraft will soon have a new duty to fulfill on U.S. soil: taking care of our farms, ranches, and vineyards from high in the skies. New studies are currently underway by researchers at the University of California, Davis and elsewhere, and although the tests are still being conducted in order to work out all of the kinks, the initial data gleaned is promising in that these machines will not only be efficient but affordable as well.

According to an article published on Ag Alert’s website, UC Davis agricultural engineering professor Ken Giles “is the lead university researcher who is partnering with Yamaha Motor Corp. USA, to see how well Yamaha’s motorcycle-sized RMAX unmanned helicopter can been used for agricultural purposes in the United States, including aerial applications of agricultural chemicals.”

The Yamaha RMAX has been used over farms in Japan for years. It is 9 feet long and weighs 200 pounds. But there are many other types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, too.

The team of researchers from UC Davis began water-only applications from the helicopter last November at the UC Oakville Experimental Vineyard. Then, during the first week of June 2013, Giles and his team demonstrated the helicopter for reporters.

“We are able to cover the vineyard rows at about 12 to 15 miles per hour,” said Steve Markofski, a Yamaha business planner and RMAX operator. “Even when factoring in the refill time and so on, the RMAX is very efficient. Given the current spray method, at full spray it can operate for about 10 to 15 minutes. It can cover about four to 12 acres per hour.”

And the good news for researchers is that the helicopter seems to be providing thorough coverage across the vineyard. Moreover, according to Giles, the even better news is that the air currents stirred up by the aircraft’s rotors appear to cause the spray to reach even the undersides of the grapevine leaf canopy. The plan is to use these to not only spray chemicals, but also to survey large farms in order to pinpoint areas in need of fertilizer and pesticides, which will prevent a lot of waste.

The next step for researchers in California is to conduct application tests with common agricultural chemicals. This will allow them to compare the safety, costs, and efficiency of this new method to the classic approach using a tractor-drawn spray rig.

“From the viewpoint of agriculture, we are looking at this as a way to improve the productivity and ultimately reduce the need for a lot of crop inputs. This type of vehicle allows you to do treatment and inspection of agricultural fields on a very focused basis,” Giles said.

While drones are currently generally connected with warfare, many people feel this perception will change very soon. These UAVs will become a permanent fixture on farms, ranches, and vineyards across the country and across the world, as they will undoubtedly reduce waste and save time and money.

You can watch a video of these helicopters in action on YouTube here.