Amazing how that saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff” does not seem to apply to wine growing. So, you can see in the picture above that the grapes on the top right are not deep purple. In this case they are “wings” of a bigger cluster. You have to remove these or they will suck away the ripening power to the rest of the clusters…..so I did this last week. I pulled up the net where I had to cut and removed them.
In other cases, the entire vine or an entire section of the vineyard may not ripen. In this case you have to do a second pick or remove leaves in the cluster zone to hasten the ripening along. Of course, this could backfire and you might sunburn them if you have a hot spell.
Now I know why my Grandfather in Nebraska always worried about the weather when we came to visit.
It has finally come time to measure the sugar content of the grapes, hope they ripen evenly and then harvest and make wine.
Think back to your chemistry days where you had different tools to measure chemical content of liquids….or is that only me with my Chemical Eng background? Anyway, there is a very simple tool called a Refractometer that will measure the sugar content of the grapes.
In the picture above you can see that you simply squeeze the grape and put the liquid on the glass window and cover it with the lid. Then you look into it like a kalaidascope and a line will appear on a scale and you will know the content. Hard to explain on paper, but easy to do.
In the vineyard you now have to measure a good number of samples every week until you get to the desired sugar level. I’m shooting for 23.5% that will give me a wine with a little under 14% alcohol.
In addition, for the flavors you can tell if the grapes are ripe by the color of the seed. If the seed is green it isn’t ready. If it is brown…..good to go.
Time to net….can’t believe it has been 4 years in the making, but our first harvest is almost here and we want to protect it, so we purchased 12500’ of netting (not enough) and netted 70 of the rows so the birds won’t get the fruit. We hired a friend/management company, Carmine Indindoli, who has a motorized tool to net. It took them almost 5 hours with 4 men to get it 90% done. The hardest part is we have 84 rows, with many of them small. The turns are the worst part of netting as you have to tie the nets so you don’t trip over them.
As the guys were leaving, they gave me some tips in the vineyard……I missed to many “doubles”, on the weak plants I should have left only 2 or 3 buds instead of 4, the far side of the vineyard was not getting enough water….but all in all looked OK for one person doing it who is “learning”.