Temporarily closing FnB, the little gin joint I help run in Scottsdale, due to COVID-19 was challenging and sad. In stark contrast, my other life in Baja Arizona has never been busier. The vineyards don’t stop growing at Los Milics, our nascent winery in Sonoita, so my wife and I have been hard at work.
For the last couple of months, we’ve been finalizing trellis architecture. In 2019, we finally put our own vines in the ground – 16,000, to be exact. Those cuttings were fine by themselves in the short term, but they ultimately need trellises (rows of rigid frames and wires) to grow in an orderly, harvest-friendly fashion.
Here’s a brief 101: At the end of each vine row, you have end posts, secured with anchors so they can hold the weight of vine shoots. Each vine row has a total of six wires. One is for the irrigation line; another to train the cordon, or arms of the vine; and four “catch wires” keep the shoots in place and from falling over. The whole thing is held up, and in place, by a system of T-posts, crossarms and clips installed by hand. It took us three weeks to complete this tedious yet strangely meditative task. We also performed normal upkeep, like shoot thinning and training new trunks on second-year vines.
At the same time, construction for the winery itself is full steam ahead. The 7,500-square-foot main building, a prefab Quonset hut, is complete. The silhouette is semicircular, softening its impact on the landscape. I can’t wait to put her to use for our 2020 harvest. See you down south.
Los Milics Vineyards and Winery
423 Upper Elgin Rd., Elgin