Hopes for a farmer’s miracle of sorts with a very late budburst and normal harvest time (=short growing season) have now officially been dashed with the collection of our first grape chemistry readings of the year, as posted earlier today. While we would gag to call this a “cool” summer by the common understanding of the term, it has been a summer of moderate heat by Foothills standards that got off to an unseasonably cool start in June. Perhaps this is the reason that, despite veraision at a fairly normal time in July, ripening has taken its own sweet time. We are now looking for harvest of our primitivo in mid-September and barbera in late September. The Portugese varietal grapes should reach optimal ripeness in a range spanning from early September (tempranillo) to mid-October (souzao).
Earlier this month, we did a round of fruit dropping in the primitivo that we may supplement with some fine-tuning given the extra time till ripening and vines that are beginning to look tired. We have dropped seconds in a portion of Block 1 of the barbera and will likely do more of this, as the abundant green seconds stand out readily against the blue-purple main fruit.
We have deployed bird netting on the bookends of the primitivo vineyard that are closest to trees and ever-hungry, marauding birds, as well as in Block 4 of the barbera. The port vineyard is completely enclosed in permanent overhead netting that is keeping all but a few enterprising birds off the fruit. Birds have already done a number, via daylight attacks, on our back hilltop primitivo grapes that ripen earlier than the rest and are closest to trees. Thirsty rodents, meanwhile, have begun eating holes in distant driplines by night in the same section. We often get the latter late in the season, but apparently the rodents missed the memo about the later harvest, and they have chowed down already. On the positive side, temperatures have moderated after a recent heat spell and are expected to remain that way for another week, which should promote ripening without dehyration in the near-term.