With 2.5″ of rain on Friday we set a new rainfall record for Santa Rosa that was set in 1890, and, we still have until June 30th for the season to end! We have now had over 58″ of rain, and most of it since October 1, 2016. What does that mean for our grapes? It is good news for the soil as we want as much rain to fill the soil until the end of April so we won’t have to water until August. The only issue with rain later than May 1 is that it might hurt fruit set and give us mildew on the vines. Right now though, I’m happy for the vines…but personally sick of the rain!
PS Historically we get 4″ of rain from April 1 – June 30…so can’t put away my umbrella just yet.
We are about 75% through fruit set as you can see. Last year we had areas of poor set, but this year the vines are all very healthy and the weather has been perfect.
So…I’m predicting 3.9 tons of fruit this year, will have to revise it later when I do a very thorough count of the bunches. As far as harvest, we are only a day behind on growing degree days from last year with dry weather as far as the eye can see. Last year we harvested on 9/11 and 9/12 and I think since we have more fruit it will be 9/15 and 9/16.
Seeing that I’m a farmer now, I get to worry about all sorts of things that I can’t do anything about. A few months ago it was frost…but the spring here was amazing with warm weather, although a not enough rain.
Now is fruit set. As you can see in the picture the grapes flower (the white bursts around the berry) and then they self pollinate and become grapes. Something I didn’t know realize is how few of them become berries. In the case of Pinot noir, only between 30-50% become berries in normal years. So, for the next few weeks we hope the weather is nice and calm with no rain, little wind and nothing really hot or cold. Not much to ask for! As soon as “set” is complete, I can do a crop estimate for our 2013 vintage.
What is next? It is time for shoot positioning. The tedious task of lining up the shoots to give all the grape clusters room to grow but never touch. This is perhaps the most labor intensive job we have, and one of the most important.