We’ve recently endured a brutal, though very much seasonable, heat wave that brought 100+ F temperatures for about 2 weeks. Temperatures have moderated, under cloudless sunshine, to highs in the low 90s and lows in the upper 50s. Such conditions are perfect for ripening as we enter the homestretch for the growing season, and are forecast to remain so for at least a week. Verasion was first noted in the tempranillo around July 17, and has now spread to other varietals, including barbera and primitivo. Most clusters are green in the latter varietals, but we would expect widespread verasion within the next week. Crop loads continue to appear moderate, and this has been achieved without active fruit dropping, except in the port varietals. Crop load will come into better focus, literally, with full verasion. Timing of harvest remains anyone’s guess, but we are looking for a “normal” year at this point…neither early nor late.
Our experimental hedging of barbera in certain blocks was implemented in mid-July ahead of verasion (see Vineyard Gallery photo), though the intense heat, which caused some scattered sunburn in the barbera in the absence of any leaf-thinning, made additional leaf thinning unadvisable. The hedged vines have a neat appearance, though the impact on ripening remains to be assessed. The goal is to help the vines decrease water loss through transpiration. Overall, the barbera appear to be handling the heat well with the help of irrigation, and we are hopeful that we will be successful in moderating late season sugar accumulation. On the primitivo side, the leaves have begun a yellowing process that we see annually as part of leaf senesence, though the vines have adequate leaf area for ripening and are in good balance. Berry size and grape clusters are on the small side, which we think bodes well for quality.