Friday, May 29, 2009

rain, rain go away...and come back when you can't stay so long

It's been a week of daily rains. Last weekend the Vidal Blanc was in the early stages of flowering, all the rest were a few days off. It's a critical time in the vineyard. A fungal infection in the flower at this stage can prevent the berries from setting, or can lay latent in the berries until they begin to ripen in August. At that point the fungus will wake up and consume the berry just as it approaches full ripeness.

The work continues, either way: We should be able to finish up the shoot thinning on the Viognier this weekend, and hopefully run the last catch wires in the Vidal Blanc block to begin shoot positioning. Our part timer was supposed to work by himself for the first time during the week this week putting in J-staples for the catch wires. We'll see how he did tomorrow.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

shoot thinning

Finished the shoot thinning of Vidal Blanc, and just in time! Any more time and the shoots would have been too set to easily remove from the cordon. We were able to do the job by simply plucking the extra shoots by hand, a much easier and faster task than using clippers to remove them.
The earliest varieties (Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc) are in the late stages of inflorescence development. An inflorescence is the part of the shoot that develops into the grape cluster. It contains dozens of little buds that will open into tiny flowers.
I anticipate next weekend to be the last one before most of the varieties begin to flower.
The new vines in lot 12 are doing great! It's been a wet spring with frequent rain, giving these vines a chance to grow and develop a root system. The uncut rye grass hides most of these vines. In fact, the whole field looks like a green savanna with posts. Rarely is a vine taller than the grass around it. The rye is not terribly thick, though, so a dappled light makes it through to the vines. I expect by mid summer the vines will start peeking out over the rye.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

shoot thinning

The sun decided to make a stand and drive off the gray clouds after ten days of rain and cool temperatures. During that time the soggy vines yawned and stretched. Some sending out new shoots from fuzzy buds, other extending on the green growth already started. It seemed on Saturday that every viable bud put forth a shoot, or two, or even three.
Spent the day removing the extra shoots in the proofing rows. The half acre of Viognier was a bit behind, with the shoots expressing a leaf or two, but sometimes still breaking bud. I Decided to let it go for a week.
The Vidal Blanc in Lot 11 had shoots consistently reaching the 8 inch wire. There was just not enough time to thin it. East Pete has been working it today, and I plan to be there Friday to hopefully finish the job.

Monday, May 11, 2009

walking the rows

Last weekend, after working all day on a lab build-out, and previously dedicating a lot of time and energy to getting the new vineyard blocks prepped and ready, I toured the proofing rows.
It was late in the day. The sun was just falling behind the treeline to the west, casting dappled shadows across the vineyard. The heat of the day was being lifted away by a mild breeze.
Making my way between the first rows and saw the new shoots pushing out, some putting out the first leaf, some working on the second small leaf.
I paused as the feeling of a new cycle impressed upon me. For a brief moment the rush of demands and work fell away and all was right in the world.