Spring rainfall has continued to be generous (and welcome) in El Dorado: the expression “better late than never” definitely applies. One could argue that it’s not the best scenario for the annual fight against weeds, as weeds generally have much shallower roots than our well-established grapevines, which means that if the top soil layers are dried out, the grapevines can manage and the weeds will relatively suffer. However, the weeds and grasses will come regardless–it’s just a matter of degree–and since we have ways of dealing with them, net net we prefer a full soil profile of water by the time the vines bud out to delay the need to irrigate the vines, possibly till early June. What is certain is that the rains will stop before too long, and the long, arid summer will begin.
The above said, the timing of things wasn’t exactly convenient this year, and to get the winter pruning done (we finally got a crew in at the end of March) and weed control spray down between rains, our vineyard manager (who happens to be my hard-working wife) needed to miss a family vacation over Easter to make sure everything happened when it needed to. This sort of dedication–and the experience to know that the dedication was needed–is what comes with 15+ of grape growing. As in other lines of endeavor, experience counts, and we like to think that we learn from our mistakes at Shaker Ridge.
Budburst arrived immediately after pruning for our earliest grape varieties, such as muscat canelli, our barbera pushed perhaps a week later, and our primitivo is now starting to push. Overall, it has been a somewhat late budburst, which would tend to predict a somewhat late harvest, perhaps a little past the mean. However, this should be no problem in our climate and with our varietals, and with typical weather for our site we should have no trouble ripening our grapes.
We ended up making a portion of our Quinta block available for sale, and would still take waitlist requests on specific varietals within that for home winemaker quantities, touriga nacional and tinta cao being the most likely to offer some surplus. Otherwise, we still have about 1 1/3 tons of barbera still available for sale without the need for a waitlist.
We are looking forward to wine judging season and hope that some grapes we’ve provided in the past contribute to some great wines for our clients.