Vineyard Diary 5-27-21

Bloom is in the air and has been for the last 7-10 days. This is the inconspicuous beginning of fruit set from barely visible but pleasantly perfume-emitting flowers throughout the vineyard. It also marks the beginning of the end of the period of rapid shoot elongation that follows bud burst as the vines shift gears toward fruit development.

With the extremely dry April (0.2″ of rain) and May (0.3″ of rain), the top layers of soil are about as dry as they’ve ever been for this date for us, so short-cycle irrigation was begun to attempt to recharge the upper soil layers and provide regular water for our blocks on the Primitivo side with some young grafts. We got away with a single round of mowing of the grasses and clover between rows, and even that single pass left us with something like a dust bowl. We have never seen the grass and weed growth so weak, but we’re not complaining…it’s made spring maintenance a little easier, and lower weed burden means the weeds will use less of our scarce water vs. the vines as we move into the summer.

Shoot thinning was a major, labor-intensive operation as always, and it was only because of the help of a dedicated hired crew that we were able to complete this for the bulk of the vineyard in the last 3 weeks, with a little clean up work in the Quinta and last year’s grafted block to follow within the next few days. Beyond that, regular spraying for prevention of powdery mildew continues.

Apart from the dryness, it’s been an amazingly pleasant May on the farm, with cool daytime highs in the 70s to low 80s for much of May. It appears that we will not make it to June without a sudden foray into the 90’s predicted for the long Memorial Day weekend and extending into next week. However, we knew that the heat could not be restrained forever. Fortunately, much of the labor-intensive work will have been completed by then, and irrigation will begin in earnest.

We still have 1.5 tons or more of each of our main varietals Primitivo, Barbera, and Touriga available for reservation, though we do not expect that that will remain the case for long as commercial wineries begin to see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel. We are now sold out of all of our less abundant varietals, though our production estimates are usually conservative, and so we can entertain wait list requests for any of those.