The 2014 vintage is moving right along. Grape clusters are fully formed and rapidly increasing in size. Fruit set appears variable in the primitivo, with some normal-looking clusters and some with lighter sets and variable berry sizes. Fruit set in other varietals looks unremarkable. We are not seeing any powdery mildew pressure.
The weather has been exactly as expected, with not a drop of rain and mostly sunny skies. We have enjoyed a higher than normal period of days in the 80s or even the upper 70s for our region for this time of year, making for very pleasant working conditions. However, we had a few days of low triple digits in early June, and we’ll be climbing into the upper 90’s again this week. We hope that these periods remain few and far between, but we wouldn’t bet on it.
We have begun irrigating regularly, but have been able to water at less than maximum rate thanks to generally moderate heat. We started to see some dry tendrils following the big early June heat wave. The vines have put on a fair amount of growth in the form of lateral arms, but they remain green and healthy at this point. The weeds such as horsetail that tend to come up at this time of year immediately adjacent to the vine rows are off to an early start and growing in earnest; we may need to do a lot of manual pulling to keep them from competing with the vines for what will likely be precious late summer water.
Our 2nd annual competition to recognize the best home winemaker wines made with our grapes is heating up, with the results of a couple major competitions still pending. With the the Amador County Fair judging complete but results not posted, and the Sacramento Home Winemakers June Jubilee judging set to go in about a week, the updated standings are as follows:
Winemaker Initials Wine Top Medal
JL 2012 primitivo gold
JL 2011 primitivo silver
JDP 2011 port style bronze
NG 2012 touriga bronze
This means that someone will need at least a gold to force us to look at our tiebreaker criteria, and a double-gold would be needed to grab a commanding lead. Entries are still accepted up to the day before judging of a given competition by contacting us to confirm eligibility. The grand prize is 250 lb of free wine grapes (2014 or 2015 vintages).