Vineyard Diary as of 8-20-13

Little is left in the 2013 season but the waiting (and watching, and testing, and coordinating, and harvesting, and…).  Fruit dropping has been completed for all of our varietals, veraison is well past, and we’ve deployed all the bird defenses on hand.  Weekly grape chemistry testing has begun, beginning with earlier ripening varieties, with additional ones to be added as they get within a relevant range.

On the primitivo side, we found that the first round of fruit dropping completed in early July, which mainly removed side clusters, was not enough to facilitate full ripening, and we “dropped” (cut off, removed) a large number of clusters in early August.  The crop now looks to be in balance, and the most vulnerable portions have been netted to protect from birds, who had already found them.  It seems like the bird pressure is worse than usual, perhaps due to the prevailing drought-like conditions.  This pressure includes wild turkeys, who appear to have enjoyed a very successful hatch this spring, as we’re seeing large families of them visiting the vineyard daily for the first time in several years.  They have done a number on clusters within their reach in our early-ripening muscat grown for home use.

On the barbera side, we recently completed fruit dropping, which included a fair number of clusters that were sun-damaged during the early July heat spike.  A reasonable crop remains which should ripen well, though likely on the low end of our target yield, and perhaps a little light.  The coming weeks will be critical as we try to protect what is left from excess sun and avian visitors.

Our Quinta fruit looks good and has enjoyed unprecedented successful protection from overhead netting.  Though we provide this every year in this trellised block, a few birds typically manage to get in and need to be chased out.  This year, we really haven’t seen this since shortly after deploying them in July.  Fruit has been dropped, and there should only be the waiting here.

Our non-Quinta block of touriga is looking good  but may need bird netting to get through the coming weeks.  We are watching with interest fruit ripening in a few experimental rows where we have employed different fruit thinning practices.  The fruit load looks to be in good balance with the vines.

There is not much fruit left for sale in 2013:  a little non-Quinta touriga and tinta cao are all that remain.  We would entertain waitlist requests for barbera or primitivo, but frankly don’t expect there to be much left once confirmed clients get their fruit.