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!
We have veraison!!! (grapes turn from green to red)
What does that mean:
– I have to finish any final preparations to the vineyard before the nets go up in 3 weeks…drop week canes, final sprays, leafing, etc.
– With the light crop I have this year, looks like harvest will be the end of Aug.
– I need to bottle my 2014 Pinot Noir to free up space for the 2015!!!
BTW, my new harvest estimate is:
– 3 tons Pinot Noir
– 250 lbs Merlot
– 180 lbs Sauvignon Blanc
Where did the year go? I know I’m getting older but it seems like I just finished making wine from 2014.
We have about 2 weeks until the nets go up and we have a lot of work to do. Last week we started thinning some fruit that I didn’t think would ripen in time and we will finish that in a few days. Next, we will do a second pass to ensure the right amount of leaves have been removed to enhance the flavor of the grapes. We also will tuck the vines in the wires one more time and spray with potassium bicarbonate to hopefully eliminate the possibility of bunch rot. Then the nets go up and we stress the vines by reducing the water and hopefully mid September we have almost 4 tons of Pinot noir.
As soon as veraison is complete, I will take a pH reading on the grapes to see if the improvements we made last year helped to make the grapes more acidic. Let’s hope as it will make wine making much easier.
Veraison (or when the grapes turn red) is here!!! It actually happened on July 5th this year. I only count when I see a red grape on a full cluster. Last year it was on July 8th. So when is harvest? Well…in general, it is normally 6 weeks after you get to 50% veraison, or in our case around the time the grapes hit 24.5 brix/taste good/brown seeds. We are 3 days behind for growing degree days from last year, but 3 days ahead for veraison, but have at least 30% more fruit…so my guess is September 15th.
Now for the tonnage…We had a total of 2.6 tons last year. It was split approximately 1.75 tons pommard and 0.85 tons 667. I’m guessing that the pommard is 25% more than 2013 and the 667 is twice what it was last year. So…2.19 tons of pommard and 1.7 tons of 667 for a total of 3.89 tons of Pinot noir. We are going to keep around a ton this year to make ourselves and sell the rest to Horse and Plow Winery.
Follow along in September to see how my guesses hold up.
2013 TURTLE VINES VINEYARD
– For 2013 we harvested 5199 pounds of grapes this year vs an estimated 1190 pounds in 2012! We hope to eventually harvest around 11,000 pounds.
– By carefully restricting the water from set to veraison, we were able to reduce the pH at harvest from 3.9 to 3.76 even while harvesting at a higher brix! Still need a ways to get to optimal winemaking.
– With the help of Patrick Hamilton, a SRJC student, we staked up the irrigation hoses, eliminated twins and improved the cane pruning process.
– Our gopher population increased dramatically over recent years but so did our capture rate. Twenty three as of this date.
IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2014
– Remove mystery vines and weak vines in the fall or spring
– Outsource to Wilkinson Vineyard Management some of the more labor intensive operations.
– Improve the process of harvest as we will have around 4+ tons of grapes.
– Decrease further the potassium uptake with prudent watering and magnesium supplementation of the soil.
– Implement a petiole analysis program.
– Add a second irrigation hose to around 20 rows in the vineyard for the weaker vines.
– Investigate biodynamic vineyard practices
I have not posted in a while, so I’ll give you a little update on how our 2013 Pinot Noir crop is shaping up.
Three weeks ago we finished veraison so the nets went up to prevent the birds from getting our crop. Only took 5.5 hours this year top put them up…better than 9 hours last year.
Sunday Joey and I took brix (sugar) readings throughout the vineyard. As expected the vines closest to the house averaged 20.4 and the ones furthest away were at 19.3. We expect to pick when the brix reach 23…so around September 16th!
Now the fun part…as you can see from the picture, we bought a small bladder press. The capacity is 42 gallons, or enough for 1/2 ton of fermented Pinot Noir, or around 400 pounds of Sauvignon Blanc. In addition, we bought 2 thirty gallon breathable tanks for aging, and some 5, 3 and 1 gallon glass containers. Next up is to get a destemmer and a few smaller items and we will be set to make wine this year!
As some of you may have heard Sonoma Valley is ahead of schedule this year for version and probably harvest by 1-3 weeks. Here at Turtle Vines I think we are 1 week ahead of last year given all the clouds/fog the last 2 weeks.
We are about 85% into version with some vines still having green grapes. I decided to test the sugar content of the grapes at different colors to understand how it correlates.
Green grape – 8%
Orange grape – 11%
Purple grape – 15%
Dark grape on the same vine where all the grapes have turned is 16.5%.
The rule of thumb is that the grapes shift by 1% per week in “normal” weather. If most of the grapes in the vineyard are around 16.5% and I want to pick at 24%, then I’m 7.5 weeks away, or 9/23…same as last year.
Just walked outside and noticed we have started veraison, where the pinot grapes turn from green to a very dark purple. This means the countdown to put up the nets and harvest has started!!!
Everything this year is ahead of last year and veraison is no different. Last year it was July 21st and this year it is July 8th, so I’m expecting harvest somewhere between the 10th and 15th of September.
What do I have to do between now and harvest?
– Continue to spray for botrytis and powdery mildew until the nets go up
– Final pass on shoot positioning, leafing and drop fruit
– Design net tool and test
– Put up the nets around Aug 1st
– FIND Winery to buy grapes!!!
As of June 4th, the grapes are the size of BB’s. They should take on a lot of size the next month and then around the middle of July they will turn red. Technically that is called veraison, I call it very exciting! Then I have to protect them from the birds, keep spraying and then harvest mid-September.