I feel a little guilty because I have been talking so much about the winery and our events that I have been neglecting to talk about what is happening in the vineyard. The fact is, that we have been working the the vineyard every day since mid-May when the vines began to flower and the shoots began to lengthen. Now, as you can see, the fruit is set and the vines are becoming long and lush. Last week we positioned and pulled shoots to increase the air circulation through the fruiting zone. This week we will have to go back through and drop some fruit. I hate doing this job because we work so hard and build up so much anxiety during the blossom and pollination period trying to increase the fruit set and ensure enough grapes for the harvest. In 2010 we experienced a full week of cool rain and showers during pollination and had almost no fruit to speak of when the flowers dropped off. That taught us the importance of proper crop management. Lesson Learned!
Now despite the fact it feels like I am committing infanticide every time I drop a cluster, i know that I must to ensure that only the best fruit makes it to harvest. With all the rain, we look for any bunches of berries with visible defects to sacrifice. Second, we look for clusters that are overlapped or touching since this increases the spread of fungus. Finally, we take the peripheral clusters and reduce the crop to a manageable amount so the vines do not experience too much stress in late August and September when we have the hot dry ripening period. With so much rain in the forecast, there will be plenty of water to get the berries through veraison (fruit changing from green to ripened red or white). We can't predict what the weather will be for our harvest but we prepare to adjust to future situations.
If all goes as planned, we will have a week of thinning fruit and then back to shoot pulling and positioning. At the end of July when the berries begin to ripen (veraison) we will concentrate on pulling leaves and letting the sun do it's work on the chemical compounds in each berry. I will keep updating you on those steps as we continue through the process of developing our next vintage. Until then, help us out by drinking up our last vintage so we have room in the winery for this season's crop.