Vineyard Diary

Pleasant summer weather has given way to intense but seasonable summer heat.   This past week, we experienced a series of 105 F+ days, which have been book-ended by a series of 90 F+ days.  Coupled with smoke and haze from wildfires, it has been little short of an oven in the Foothills of late. 

The grapevines continue to look very good to date.  Mildew prevention has been complete, with most risk behind us now.  Weed and bug pressure has been minimal due to a combination of agricultural practices and, we suspect, the dry spring.  We have been watering the barbera relatively aggressively as compared to past years, and the primitivo less than in past years, as this seems to better match the vines’ requirements.  The vines look very healthy.  Both the barbera and primitivo grapes emerged very well from the recent scorching days, with very little evidence of sunburn.

The crop load on the barbera looks moderate, although there seem to be more “seconds” than usual, perhaps related to the April frost.  We will have a better sense of crop load, and the need to drop fruit or not, in 1-2 weeks as verasion kicks in. 

The primitivo is carrying a relatively light load, in part due to a fair number of “shot” berries evident after flowering, and also smaller clusters in general.  We have no complaints, as the fruit load looks to have naturally fallen within our 2 tons/acre target, which may obviate the need for any fruit dropping this year.    Some yellow leaves have begun to appear predominantly on our far hilltop which has a better-draining soil than the rest of the vineyard and may be showing a little water stress after the recent heat wave.  Since these were also the earliest emerging vines this spring, this may also be the start of the natural senescence/ripening process.

Our experimental plot of tempranillo grapes, always the earliest to ripen among our reds, have just begun verasion this weekend, and we suspect that we will see widespread evidence of verasion in both the barbera and the primitivo within 1-2 weeks.  This should not be a late harvest.