Interview with Anaba’s Vineyard Manager, Mike Nuñez

How did you get started with wine and vineyard management?

“I grew up on a vineyard ranch in Oakville. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t see a grapevine. Being surrounded by the beauty of each season of the vineyard cycle. I knew I wanted to live and work in wine country. I started my career at Silver Oak Cellars. I apprenticed under the late Justin Meyer learning how to grow ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon. Once I started working in the vineyards while going to school. I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

What goals do you hope to achieve in the vineyard?

“My goal to achieve in the vineyard someday is to invent a shoot thinning machine. Shoot thinning is a task that has to be done in a small window of time. A shoot-thinning machine of some sort would help with that demanding task.”

What’s the most rewarding part of working in the vineyard?

“I really enjoy tasting the wine from the vineyards I farm. Especially the challenging vineyards. Some vineyard challenges include: Not having enough available water, nutrition challenges, pest challenges, and wind challenges. At the end of the day, I find a way to be proactive rather than reactive.”

What’s going on in the vineyard today at Anaba?

“The Anaba vineyard is currently going through bloom (flowering stage). Crucial time of the year because every flower petal is a potential berry. If the flowers are affected by wind, rain, hail, extreme heat, or cold weather. We could have a light crop load.”

Walk me through what a typical day for a vineyard manager looks like.

“A typical day consists of collaboration with the winemaker or vineyard owner to ensure that protocols are being followed. Walking the vineyards to check on growing status, nutritional needs, and general vine health. Discussing budgets and having meetings with clients while enjoying a glass of wine.”

When doing a vineyard walk-through with a winemaker, what kinds of changes do you make to shape the fruit and eventually the wine?

“The most important walk-through with the winemaker is to ensure optimal quality is at pruning and fruit thinning. Pruning is important because that will dictate the foundation for the year. Not pruning enough will cause short weak shoots which will make it hard to ripen the fruit.

Pruning too aggressively will result in very strong shoots which may cause some vegetative components in the wine. You need to find the right balance when it comes to pruning.

Fruit thinning is the second most important decision that is made in the vineyard. Our goal is to have two clusters per shoot on shoots that are three feet in length. Shoots that are 19 inches to 32 inches will be dropped to 1 Custer per shoot.

Shoots that are 18 inches or less get all clusters dropped.”