May 2015 has been an astoundingly beautiful month in El Dorado, with generally mild weather and enough cloudy days to delay the inevitable browning out of the hillsides and postpone the need for irrigation in the vineyard. We finally did see the very earliest indications of water stress in our vines and completed a full cycle of irrigation this past week. However, the way things had been going in late winter/early spring, we were expecting this to begin much sooner, so this was a pleasant surprise.
The vines are now fully grown and looking fantastic. We have completed shoot-thinning on a vineyard-wide basis, finishing with the block of barbera with the deepest soil for which the relative delay in thinning should have helped sap some of their natural vigor. We are seeing no signs of powdery mildew despite excellent conditions for the same, no doubt due to our regular preventative spraying regimen, which so far this season has been with all organic materials.
Bloom is pretty much wrapped up in the barbera and primitivo vineyards now, and we also did a second round of suckering of lower shoots vineyard-wide while repairing and firing up the irrigation system for the season. We have also tucked shoots in the Quinta, our only trellised block of vines. It is too early to say how fruit set went for certain, but based on the initial appearance of the berries and the generally fair weather during bloom, we anticipate no problems.
We are now officially sold out of all of our varietals for the 2015 season, though we are still taking wait-list requests for our main three varietals: barbera, primitivo, and touriga in case there is a slight excess of available fruit. The barbera is most likely to have significant quantities of fruit later available, as we are still holding back posting the production of two blocks of our barbera due to the drought: one that we expect we will ultimately have to sell and one that we doubt that we will have to sell. We will offer this fruit on a first-come, first-served basis from our waitlist that we post regularly in conjunction with our “Current Grape Availability” postings.
We are still accepting entries for our 3rd annual Shaker Ridge Home Winemaker competition. Entry in our competition is free and open to anyone who has a wine made at least 85% with our grapes in vintages 2011 onward who enters a wine in certain acceptable blinded, public competitions thru Aug. 1 and who contacts us in advance of judging of that competition to confirm that they want their wine included. We would need to know the competition you are entering, the vintage of the wine, and the varietal(s) purchased from us. First prize–for best outcome in acceptable competitions–is 250 lbs of grapes of our grapes. Please see our March “Vineyard Diary” blog for full competition details (http://www.shakerridgevineyard.com/2015/03/20/vineyard-diary-3-20-15/). At present, we have only one entry for the competition, so you have an excellent chance of winning the grand prize! Sacramento Home Winemakers: the 2015 SHW Jubilee competiton qualifies, so please e-mail us by June 12, 2015 if you have entered a wine made with our grapes in that competition and would like to be considered for our prize.