Savoring Summer: Vineyard Prep For Harvest
All Hands On Deck
Summer brings intense heat to the vineyard, demanding attentiveness in these last few weeks prior to harvest. Following the abundant winter rains of 2023, the vines are thriving as grape berries begin to “size up” with the promise of rich, concentrated flavors. However, along with this abundance comes a few challenges that require careful farming and preparation.
One result from the deluge of winter rain in our vineyard is the proliferation of weeds. The rainwater that nurtured our vines all winter also provided fertile ground for weed growth. Organic farming is a practice in collaborating with mother nature to nurture all that she offers while gently making space for our crop to thrive. The weeds are mitigated with the age-old practice of hand hoeing in hot weather along with organic mildew prevention sprays. I try to start early in the morning to beat the heat!
Winter Rain Recap
All the winter rain invigorated the vines, resulting in healthy canopies, longer shoots, and prolific jungle growth. The rows have quickly become overgrown, a vibrant green mass of canes and shoots in every direction. This new growth makes it nearly impossible for a tractor to pass. In preparation for harvest, we are using even more handwork, meticulously trimming each and every vine to allow the grape clusters enough exposure to sunlight without sunburn, opening the vines up for airflow and to ensure even ripening. Trimming each vine enables the tractors to navigate through the vineyard. The tractor’s passage is crucial as we need to apply organic mildew prevention sprays to protect the vines from potential disease and ensure their continued well-being as harvest approaches.
Slow To Go
On Groundhog Day this year, Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter and he was correct. The prolonged winter led to a cooler spring, which delayed the ripening season by approximately two weeks. While this delay means we must exercise patience before the grapes reach their peak ripeness, the extra time grants us the opportunity to meticulously prepare for fruit thinning, a painstaking yet essential task to maintain the high quality of our fruit and promote good vine health.
Fruit thinning is an artful practice that involves selectively removing excess grape clusters, allowing the vine to channel its resources to the remaining fruit. By doing so, we enhance the quality and concentration of the grapes that remain, resulting in more intense flavors and better-balanced wines. This attention to detail ensures that every grape on the vine reaches its full potential and contributes to the production of exceptional wines. This is one of the most difficult tasks in summer; it breaks my heart to see all that beautiful fruit on the ground. Alleviating the vine from overproducing allows the plant to concentrate on supplying the remaining clusters with the utmost energy for ripening. And we’re already starting to see veraison in the vineyard this week (Shown lower left).
Cheers To Summer
In the coming weeks, we’ll be hard at work in the vineyard, ensuring that our grapes receive the utmost care and the attention they deserve. Tending the vines during the summer always builds my excitement for the arrival of another harvest and a fresh set of winemaking choices and experiments in the cellar. The meticulous preparations made today will yield wines of exceptional quality tomorrow and that is exactly why I love wine. So let’s toast to the future, and celebrate the 2023 summer in the vineyard and all the promise it holds.
Need some summer wine for that toast? I recommend the newly released Carnala 2021, featuring our estate Carignan, Mourvèdre and Syrah with flavors of bright red fruits and hints of tobacco and spice.