Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Long Road to a New Vintage

It's amazing each year just how quickly the trellis fills with new growth. Once budbreak begins, it almost seems to happen overnight. You just wake up one morning, walk outside and Viola! It's full. In actuality, it took roughly two months, all of May and June for the trellis to fill up. Of course weather plays a big part in new shoot growth. Keeping up with suckering and spraying is always challenge for me between work and family responsibilities. This year, fruit set was rather poor especially on my Cabernet Franc and Riesling. I'm not quite sure why, but I believe I sprayed too close to bloom. I know that rain, cold, or damp weather can cause this, but that was not the case this year. So to compensate for the lack of berries in many clusters, I will not do as much cluster thinning or "green harvest" as it is called. This removing of perfectly fine clusters of grapes prior to, or just after verasion ensures that the vine's crop load will not be too heavy and thus cause a reduction in ripening and grape quality. Every year really does present it's challenges and these are reflected in the different wines produced from the same vines and same grape varieties each year. Hence that is why vintages will vary from year to year. One thing that never changes with each vintage, is how much I love to go out in my vineyard in the evening and just sit with a good glass of wine (Preferably made from my own grapes of a previous vintage). As dusk sets in and the birds settle into their nests, everything starts to quiet down. The crickets begin their hypnotic chant and a warm breeze rustles through the vines. A waft of oak, cherry, and tobacco rises from my glass and then: a sip of good wine. There are not many things as peaceful as this.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Budbreak -A time of new beginnings and WORK!

The vines broke bud back in May and from that point on they screamed ATTENTION, NOW!! I had sincerely intended on writing this post by mid-May, but my vines would just not have it. Like little children awakening from a nap, they began to cry for my constant attention and care. I began "changing" them weekly, that is spraying them with sulfur and copper to protect them from the onslaught of fungal diseases like powdery mildew and black rot. Then of course they need "discipline" and "training". You see grapevines love to push the limits as they grow, sprawling up and out, here and there, wanting to grow their shoots long. I, as any good grower would, need to keep them in line by setting limits. That is, by tying them to the trellis and keeping them looking neat by trimming their suckers and water shoots. Oh they fight, but eventually they settle down and when the trellis is full of a new healthy canopy of green, they have shown me that they still love me. Now, if only they'll cooperate right up till harvest. Well it is a labor of love you know and after all, they are still my babies.