In our last Vineyard Diary, we remarked on the cool and pleasant (if dry) late spring we had enjoyed, and the pleasant scents of bloom. That picture is now a distant memory, and as we head into the homestretch for harvest 2021, we reflect back on a summer that will go down as one of the hottest in memory. Each summer, it’s rarely a question of whether if we’ll hit triple digit temperatures, but rather when, how often, and for how long. The answers are “yes, often, and 3-4 days each”. Typically there are pleasant stretches with highs in the 80s during, and a day with a high in the low 90s would be typical.
We are now staring down the barrel of our SEVENTH foray into triple digits on our site this summer. The breaks forecast in between these heatwaves have often evaporated as the time got closer, with low 90’s becoming mid-90s, then back again to the 100s. Our worst couple surges in July took us up in the 110 F range, which is baking, as the south-facing side of our tall blackberry bushes near the Quinta can attest. For the most part our vines have hung in there remarkably well, with an earlier start to irrigation necessitated by the dry spring, and we’ve never really been able to let up on regular irrigation due to the excess heat. About the only positive thing we can say about the weather is that we haven’t gone more than about 4 days at a stretch in the 100’s. We lost some Barbera in an already light crop to sunburn from those early very hot heat waves, and those clusters will simply be removed or fall on their own accord by harvest time. There is ample healthy fruit left, and nothing is likely to hurt these “survivors”. Overall, we’re in very good shape heading into harvest.
Our Primitivo had a a reasonable fruit set, and we kept to our plan of lightening the load to assure the vines were in balance, though it seemed that our focus to removing or grafting vines toward the back of our vineyard has been successful in providing a uniform, balanced, and healthy crop on the front part. The Primitivo is fully netted and just biding time till harvest, which will likely be in early September. Moreover, we have an experimental block in which we are trying different fruit dropping strategies and harvest times to determine impact on the resulting wine.
Our newly grafted Touriga vines (last year) are very vigorous and carrying a generous crop, which we are more than half-way through dropping in advance of netting. Our newly grafted Tinta Amarela vines began veraison early than expected and are also carrying a fine crop.
So far this season, there have been no local fires, though we had a couple days of smoky air over the weekend from distant fires, and were happy to see that blow away. We hope it stays away.
We still have a few tons of Barbera, half a ton of Primitivo, and about 1.5 tons of Touriga available for sale from the upcoming 2021 harvest; all other varietals are sold out with no possibility of wait list. Please see our “Grower Update” tab for up-to-date availability and pricing.