We are nearly on cruise-control heading into harvest season. A long string of classic warm days/cool nights is finally giving way to a stretch of more intense heat, which is expected for a few more days and which we are combatting with watering. Seconds were dropped from our clone 02 barbera plants, which were particularly loaded with them this year, and some limited first crop fruit has followed on a plant-by-plant basis…perhaps 10% overall. The primitivo formed relatively few seconds, and those have been dropped, along with a limited amount of main crop fruit (based on balance within a given plant), from Block 6 and part of Block 7. This operation will be completed in the primitivo this coming weekend, with the main goal less to thin the crop, which is already on the light side, as to better synchronize the ripening of what’s there. Our philosophy is that any bunches showing green at this point “ain’t gonna make it” for the commercial harvest, as the vast majority of the primitivo crop is a solid blue/purple in color.
We have netted an unprecedented fraction of our main vineyard–about 20%, focusing on areas immediately adjacent to trees that traditionally get ravaged. While there has been some bird damage in the primitivo, so far we appear to be holding our own against the birds, with the help of the nets and bird distress call boxes.
The first chemistry readings of the season were just posted. We are a little rusty on our sampling routine after not doing this for 11 months, but the readings seem plausible based on taste, appearance, and our historical data. While the sugars are not off the charts yet, they are getting up there relative to the acid, and we repeat our prediction that this will NOT be a late season. In fact, based on the data, we are moving up our estimates of harvest slightly to late August-early September for primitivo, and to early September-mid-September for barbera. This will all become clear exactly when it always becomes clear…when it’s nearly on top of us!