Summer: A Season of Growth in the Vineyard
Summer — one of the most satisfying seasons for the vineyard. Warm weather brings vigorous growth on the vines as fruit continues to improve. The trick to farming at this point in the year is to pay attention in order to ensure a successful harvest and eventually, produce superior wines.
Summer days are spent preparing the vines for harvest as they swell with fruit. Observing vine health is a key component to success; moving about the vineyard blocks checking leaves, shoots, branch balance, cluster development, and keeping an eye on the irrigation.
June Viticulture: Quality over Quantity
Our focus in June is addressing the canopy of the plants, which is exactly as it sounds, those wild leafy vine branches that shoot up and protect the fruit as it develops. We work to make sure the canopy doesn’t get out of control, because excessive shoots draw unnecessary energy from the vine itself. The balance of the vine is essential to ensuring “Quality Over Quantity”. Each vine requires proper shoot placement so the vine is balanced; shoots must originate evenly to avoid sparse areas which can result in sunburn. Conversely, overgrowth can create too much shade and drawn on the vine’s nutrients creating stress and lowering the fruit quality. The correct canopy balance coincides with a proper fruit load on each vine. In order to produce the best wine, you have to start with the best grapes, and June is the optimal month to guarantee great wines are made from this fruit.
July Viticulture: No Stress
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for proper growth, July brings further preventative measures by addressing crop yield and sunburn issues. As our vineyard approaches its fourth growing season, over-stressing the vines is the main concern this month. During the 2022 growing season, we opted to drop grapes onto the ground to maintain just one cluster per position (or shoot growth) on the vine; our goal is to have around 10 clusters per vine. Yes, we get that technical with this vineyard. The reasoning behind this attentiveness is simple: a light crop enhances the flavors and color in each berry. Dropping the superfluous clusters in mid-July allows an opportunity to cut off any sunburned fruit affected by the first heatwave of summer. Too much direct sunlight can burn the grape skins or bleach out the color of the skin around the berries, which results in inconsistent color or taste in the wine.
When vines are young — like the ones in our new Thibido Vineyard — they produce the highest quality fruit when the vine is responsible for nourishing and developing a reasonable number of grape clusters. Too many clusters on the vine creates stress spreading the young plant’s nutrient resources too thin, resulting in lower quality grapes and lower quality wine. This can set the vine up for a future of mediocrity if the grower isn’t careful.
Stay Tuned for Wine Knowledge Fun!
Read carefully because there’ll be a quiz! That’s right, we’re introducing our first Winemaking and Wine Growing Quiz based upon the articles we share in our newsletters. Be sure to read Josh’s first article in this series “A Syrah for All Palates: Carbonic Winemaking” and be on your toes to test your knowledge.