For those unfamiliar with the vineyard season…most of the daily work is performed from early March to the end of June. So what is left for me to do?
As you can see the vines are in great shape this year. We had record breaking rainfall this winter so the vines still have not been irrigated, and I’m hoping that continues for a few more weeks. When I do need water, I have to “stress” the grapes with only 75% of their water needs to produce flavorful grapes. Next…I have 2 or 3 more sprays with oil to prevent mildew and botrytis. Then…we finish tucking the vines in the wires and hedge the top a second time. Additionally…the nets go up the end of the month to prevent birds from eating our crop. Only then do I switch hats from vineyard manager to winemaker on a full time basis to monitor the crop and decide when to harvest!!!
From the picture below you can see the bunches are about ready to close and then veraison will occur when they go from green to red. Approximately 60 days later we will harvest…and 2017 looks to be a pretty good year based on what I see so far.
I’m guessing we will be harvesting around September 16th…so if you are in the area contact me and be prepared to work!
I believe in Global Warming, but I sure don’t believe in the the rainfall predictions from forecasters early in the season. Last year was supposed to be a HUGE rainfall season with El Nino…but it ended up about normal. This year is La Nina and they have predicted average rainfall…yet it looks to be very wet in Sonoma County. If you watch the national news we will have are having an “Atmospheric River” of rain…and we are having severe flooding in the area. We at Turtle Vines are not in a flood area but this was the worst winter storm since 2005 in Sonoma County. That one caused ~$100M of damage, hopefully this one is not as bad…let’s hope.
PS From a vineyard standpoint, a cold winter is nice to delay bud break and a good soaking late March, early April is fantastic so we avoid watering until July or August for flavor development. Just no rain May/June as that would be bad for powdery mildew and botrytis.
Average Rainfall 2016/2017 Season
October 2.0″ 5.7″
November 5.9″ 3.4″
December 6.3″ 6.0″
January 8.7″ 8.5″ as of 1/9/17
Our Hawk is back! What does this have to do with our 2014 Vineyard Plan you ask…well, we want to be good stewards of the land by being organic yet grow the best tasting Pinot Noir possible.
2014 Improvement Activities:
1. Install a second irrigation line to 500 weak vines
2. Prune aggressively for 2014 to push root growth and conserve water intake due to the drought.
3. Water vines until “set”, or until the renewal spurs have grown appropriately.
4. Test petiole’s at bloom and make adjustments
5. Incorporate seaweed concentrate into foliar spraying plan to decrease shatter, increase berry size and grow healthier vines.
6. Vary powdery mildew/botrytis spray plan with Botector and Sulfur, in addition to Serenade, Stylet Oil and Soda.
7. Experiment with removing the basal leaves early in the season to avoid powdery mildew/botrytis.
8. Monitor TA and pH along with brix as harvest parameters.
9. Subcontract out bigger jobs if possible.
Botrytis is a fungus that infects grape shoots, flowers, leaves and fruit. If your vineyard gets this fungus, think of a moldy melon, yuck! Why am I worried now? The spread of the fungus sportes is aided by summer rains, heavy dew and juice from split berries. The popular song…”it never rains in California”… is normally correct for Sonoma County. However, a rare storm is heading our way and will drop 1″-2″ of rain on the vineyard. Now I have to worry about Botrytis.
What can be done to prevent Botrytis?
– Have grapes that are not tightly packed. Sauvignon Blanc (see pictures) has a loose cluster but Pinot Noir (see picture) is a tight cluster grape, bad.
– Remove excess shoots and leaf around the cluster to get good air flow – done!
– Organically spray with Stylet Oil, Serenade Max or Sulfur right after it rains. I will do this Friday. Hope it is not to late.
Well the good news is that I needed the rain…the bad news is I may get botrytis in addition to driving potassium into the berries since we are between set and veraison. Lastly, if you look at the Sauvignon Blanc pictures…we will have a great crop this year!!!