Vineyard Diary

The beginning of grape ripening–veraison–is finally upon us for our main varietals. Veraison is well-advanced in the tempranillo, present in the vast majority of primitivo clusters, apparent in many barbera clusters, and barely starting in the touriga nacional. Considering that it’s already mid-August, we remain on track for a notably, perhaps historically, late harvest. It should be an interesting home stretch.

Temperatures in the last two weeks have been only moderately hot (low 90’s)–not blistering–but our typical arid summer conditions, coupled with drying afternoon winds, have caused some water stress in vines throughout the vineyard, which we are combatting with around-the-clock rotations of irrigation of different blocks.

Chewing of our drip lines, probably by squirrels, continues to vex us (seemingly earlier every season), though we’re fighting back with some strategically-placed temporary fencing. In addition, by the end of the weekend, we expect to have the port vineyard 100% enclosed in overhead bird netting, which we’ve found to be absolutely essential if we want to harvest any of the grapes. Because tempranillo ripens so early and is a particular favorite for the birds, this overhead netting must be rolled out and hole-free before most of the port grapes are sweet. If there is a hole, the birds will find it (though if they get tangled in the net, our cats find THEM). Finally, we are fighting classic late season weeds, including our nemesis the horse weed, mainly to prevent their robbing of water and nutrients intended for the grapes.

We still have some grapes available for sale including significant quantities of barbera, limited quantities of some touriga grafted over last year, and the total output of our 2005 port vineyard (“Buy the Quinta”). As this is our first year of production from the grafted touriga field, and we have no track record with the fruit of these vines (though we think it’s the same clone as one of our 3 touriga nacional clones in the Quinta), and also our first try with a vertical cordon for this varietal, we’re going to offer a substantial discount on this fruit. If you mention this blog, we’ll offer these grapes for $0.65/lb for half a ton or more, or $0.70/lb for smaller quantities (minimum 250 lbs). If you haven’t tried touriga yet, you’re missing some wonderful, dark, fragrant wine.