It’s been a wild ride this week, with temperatures in the vineyard reaching north of 105 F for a couple days mid-week, to absolutely autumn-like conditions with highs only in the 70’s this weekend. Beyond these aberrations, we’re expected to settle back into the same pattern we’ve enjoyed most of the summer, which has been highs near 90 during the day and upper 50s to 60 at night. These conditions should continue to provide outstanding conditions for grape ripening; we’re quite optimistic about the vintage despite its overall lateness.
Harvest finally begins to come in to focus, with veraison now complete in the tempranillo and primitivo, and almost there in the touriga and barbera. We’ve updated our projections of harvest in our “grape availability” chart and are expecting the tempranillo harvest in about 2 weeks, the primitivo harvest in about 3 weeks, and the touriga and barbera in October. We expect to begin posting chemistries for our early-ripening varieties next weekend.
Our vines are beginning to show a little late season wear-and-tear, but are generally holding up well and certainly better than last year. We watered aggressively before and during the recent heat spike, and we seem to be at a nice steady-state now with water demands of the vines, increasingly shorter days, and moderate temperatures expected ahead.
In terms of vineyard operations, our bird defenses are fully deployed and fairly effective to date. We noted with glee that a couple birds who managed to get into our full overhead netting in the port vineyard attracted the attention of a hawk–only the second time we’ve gotten aerial support–who made several swoops toward what became a mini-aviary, but couldn’t get on the other side of the netting to nab his prey. Fortunately, mop up action was completed by our middle-aged golden retriever, picked up at the pound this winter, who–true to his breed–turns out to be an outstanding and enthusiastic bird chaser. Otherwise, we’ve deployed netting directly to about 40% of the primitivo, and have two “bird boxes” loudly broadcasting distress calls from dawn till dusk. The latter make us feel like we’re doing something, even if the birds ignore them.
It’s last call for the “Quinta”, from which we will be harvesting the tempranillo–earliest of our Portugese/Iberian varietals–in mid-September. We have benefited from a couple of years of practice with these varietals, and can say without hesitation that this should be our best year ever with these: we’ve stayed on top of shoot thinning, and the crop load has been severely limited (typically one bunch per cane) and should be close to our production targets. The proprietors look forward to making some outstanding estate wine if we have no takers…
Finally, we are pleased to note that a reserve barbera made from our 2008 vintage is now on sale at Oakstone Winery in Fair Play, the 2007 vintage having recently sold out.