What a difference a year makes. The 2012 grape crop got off to a late start for the third consecutive year, and late spring was on the cool side once again. But the summer has brought plenty of seasonable sunshine and heat, with the net result of a rapid catch-up in ripening times to what will likely be “normal” harvest times, if there is such a thing. We’ve had multiple heat waves into the low triple digits, with another on the way this week. Mercifully, these have been punctuated by cooler spells with daytime highs in the upper 80s to low 90s. As one long-time local recently commented to me, the 100s make the 90s feel nice, and that’s very true.
At Shaker Ridge, we completed what we expect will be all the cluster thinning that will be required already in July, a first for us. Fruit set in the barbera, tempranillo, tinta cao, and Quinta touriga was moderate; fruit set was heavy in the primitivo and 2009 touriga, and fruit dropping was accordingly aggressive. In the primitivo, we are additionally in the process of dropping “second” fruit, which is heavy on some vines.
We completed installation of new overhead netting in our Quinta vineyard, replacing older netting that was requiring excessive time to repair inevitable holes. Thus, the thousands of song birds in the area are in for some disappointment when they approach Quinta Fort Knox. We will soon deploy additional netting directly on vines in portions of our primitivo and 2009 touriga vineyards that are most subject to marauding birds. Also at this time of year, our outside cats know to patrol the nets for avian snacks, a practice we don’t discourage.
Various quantities of each of our varietals remain for sale as of this date (see Current Grape Availability). We look forward to providing excellent quality wine grapes from the 2012 vintage to our new and repeat clients. We will begin posting to this Grower Update page our customary weekly measurements of grape chemistry from our sampling, beginning with the earliest ripening varieties, tempranillo and primitivo, in mid- to late-August.