Pinot Noir leads the way in a promising Santa Cruz Mountains fruit set
Hives to wines: Bees benefit local vineyards
“Grapes are self-fertilizing, which means they don’t need bees to set fruit,” said Prudy Foxx, managing director of Foxx Viticulture. “However, vintners often consider the insects essential to the health of their vineyards and the quality of their wines. Bees can perform cross-pollination, which enhances diversity within the vine species.”
Hop ‘N Vine festival is harvesting history
“Wine can be accessible to everyone,” says Foxx, a viticulturist who has been working with area winemakers for more than 30 years. “Learning about it can enhance your experience without destroying your pocketbook.”
Into the Fog: Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
This is not a wine region where you find sprawling vineyards. “40 acres is considered huge,” says local viticulturist Prudy Foxx, and most vineyards we walked were less than 10 acres. And there are few shortcuts from one mountain top vineyard to another: It can take 30 to 60 minutes to travel even a few miles as the crow flies, and the roads are dangerous.
Beyond the Fruit Bomb: The New California Wine by Jon Bonné
Today, he says, winemakers are looking for great places with great soil that “just happened to have been overlooked in the past,” places like the southern Santa Cruz Mountains. One of the people Bonné profiles in the book is Bonny Doon Vineyard alum Prudy Foxx. She’s been nicknamed the “Grape Whisperer.” She specializes in discovering neglected plantings, helping farmers improve their technique, and matching grapes to the right winemaker. Bonné writes Foxx is determined to get the region back on the map, but her day to day life is about solving problems for local winemakers. “Nobody calls me because they’re happy,” she tells him.
Tom Brooks Winery 2013 Petite Sirah Saveria Vineyards
This dark petite sirah from Tom Brooks Winery is packed with berry flavor. Good structure, a lingering finish and a great mouth feel shows Santa Cruz Mountains fruit off to its best.
The Grape Whisperer. How Prudy Foxx helps clients make great wines
However, there are plenty of wine consultants who don’t travel around in fancy cars creating pricy cabernets for plutocrats. Take, for instance, Prudy Foxx, whose farming talent has earned her the nickname “The Grape Whisperer.” In contrast to transcontinental winemakers like Rolland, Foxx works in just one region, the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco, and focuses on what happens in the vineyard rather than the cellar. Foxx is a viticultural consultant, advising vineyard owners on the grapes they should grow, how best to grow them, and how to keep their vines free of disease. In the process, she is helping raise the profile of an area that has long been overshadowed by Napa and Sonoma but that is arguably the sweetest spot for California winemaking.
Moist, foggy mornings during bloom highlight importance of proper canopy management for Santa Cruz Mountains growers
As vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA continued to flower into the second week of May, the 2016 bloom appears to be more uniform than last year, reports Prudy Foxx, a viticulture consultant based in, Santa Cruz, California.Given the recent weather, it’s earlier than she had been expecting.
“For weeks we’ve had cold, foggy mornings with light drizzle,” she says. “I’m surprised that hasn’t slowed vine development very much.”
Chardonnay was the first variety in her vineyards to bloom. Flowers begin opening on the west side of the mountains the third week of April. The bloom was in full gear on the east side in the first week of May, Foxx notes.
Over the Mountain: The Flip Side of Santa Cruz
We head west, over the mountains and down to the Pacific Coast Highway, driving south from Santa Cruz, then inland, passing a few lichen-frilled apple groves in the vales below the second-growth redwoods. Then, as we turn onto Pleasant Valley Road, grapevines suddenly appear.
Foxx first came to the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1989, leaving a job in Washington State to work for Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon, and later held state and county agriculture posts in the area. When she opened her own viticultural consulting company, one of her first projects, in 1998, was helping Dan Lester plant his pinot noir vineyard here. It was a wine off that vineyard that first focused my attention on this side of Santa Cruz: Bradley Brown’s 2011 Lester Family from Big Basin, a delicate pinot noir, aromatic and lithe, a wine that felt like it came from a special place…
Wine: Santa Cruz’s grape expert Prudy Foxx dishes on vines
It’s the thick of harvest, and Santa Cruz Mountains viticulturist Prudy Foxx is making last-minute adjustments to her schedule. We were supposed to meet at Lester Family Vineyards in Corralitos, then head to another vineyard to check sugar levels in the grapes. Change of plans: It’s Day 3 of a mid-September heat wave, and Foxx has determined that a client’s chardonnay vineyard needs to be picked now…
Santa Cruz Mountains crop comes in light on tonnage but heavy on flavor
“It’s absolutely unheard of to be finished that early here. Even the wine makers are in shock.”
Instead of walking vine rows and checking grape clusters in early October, as she has for the past three decades, viticulture consultant Prudy Foxx is pondering whether to go sailing in nearby Monterey Bay or take to the Santa Cruz Mountains trails with her bike…
Following an unusual start Santa Cruz vines settle in for a more normal pace of development
“We’re looking at a classic year, where you just can’t predict things too early.” she says.
It kicked off with an unusually early and isolated budbreak. Buds on a few vines here and there began to break well before the rest in the blocks, she reports.
In early March, for example, a fast-growing Nebbiolo vine in one vineyard touched the tips of the fingers of a client standing with his arms stretched high. Elsewhere, a Pinot Gris vine displayed set clusters in mid-March, she notes. In January, she even saw fruit forming on an apple tree.
Santa Cruz Mountains harvest features a fast, flavorful ending
It may not have been a photo finish. But to Prudy Foxx, the end of the unusually early 2014 Santa Cruz Mountains harvest sure looked like a horse race.
“It was as if the grapes had rounded the far turn, smelled the oats and were headed for the barn,” she says. “The finish to the season was incredibly fast and intense.”
Her company, Foxx Viticulture, Santa Cruz, Calif., works with growers throughout the 1,500-acre appellation, situated between Monterey Bay and the Santa Clara Valley…
Santa Cruz Mountains
Some vines and vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains were off to a quick start in mid-January, but vineyard consultant Prudy Foxx, who manages several properties in the area, said those were fairly isolated cases and in general things have slowed down a bit. She said because the region is close to the ocean, and most vineyards enjoy good air drainage, a serious frost is rather rare. However, she said it’s common for growers to double-prune Pinot and vineyard locations that are susceptible to frost…
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Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets
The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA (American Viticultural Area) was approved in 1981 and was unique in several respects. Though it seemingly was placed smack dab in the middle of both the San Francisco Bay AVA and the boundaries of the huge Central Coast AVA, Ridge winemaker Paul Draper never fails to point out, given the chance, that it is actually a separate AVA and is technically not contained within those neighboring AVAs (which were established later). While it is easy to see this as a technicality, the nature of the AVA’s definition may provide some indication of why Draper presses this point. The Santa Cruz AVA was one of the first in the United States to be defined not strictly by geology, watersheds, or county lines, but by elevation, marking it as decidedly different than its neighboring regions.
Surveying the Santa Cruz Mountains with Vineyard Manager Prudy Foxx
“The Santa Cruz Mountains is all about hills, and valleys, and slopes, and how the slope really captures light and heat. The direction of the slope influence what light the vineyard receives, and the heat it has to absorb. Different soil types absorb heat at different rates, so influence what the vines receive.
“Grapes can grow almost anywhere, in almost any conditions. That’s why it’s one of the oldest forms of agriculture. But one of the things grapes hate is wet feet. It’s one of the worst things you can do to a vine, wet feet. We don’t have that problem here [thanks to the elevation and slopes].”
Uncorked: The grape whisperer — viticulturist Prudy Foxx aims to make vineyards thrive
Working as a viticulturist is much like rearing a family. It takes a steady hand to guide the sometimes unruly, a nurturing nature that can see the best in those she loves and the flexibility to try a new course when the one she’s on has gone sour.
In local vineyards, viticulturist Prudy Foxx serves as mother, a position the Midwestern native couldn’t have imagined while studying biology and environmental science in the early 1980s at Washington State. Straight out of college, she knew she didn’t want a typical 9-to5 job, so she took a position at a small vineyard in Bellingham. It was instant love…
the fog comes in and just kisses the vineyards
“There are three things that make this area special,” Pamela says, “the climate, which is warm but not scorching, really good soil and Prudy Foxx.” A master viticulturist who cares for many of the vine- yards in the Corralitos area, Foxx says the play of sun and coastal fog is one of the factors that make it so perfect for grape growing.
“Pleasant Valley is at just the right elevation, about 600 feet, so that the fog comes in and just kisses the vineyards. Almost like dew, it moisturizes the skin of the grapes and makes everybody happy, then goes away by 10am practically every day,” she explains. Since the flavonoids in grapes lie close to the skin, this process allows complexities to develop.