Thursday, August 18, 2011

Definitely late harvest and low yields!

This is past mid-August, and véraison is still at less than 50% — can you believe it?  The Doña Margarita Vineyard has no more than 5-10% color, and the Don Miguel is not much ahead of it. It’s a very difficult (and costly) year because of the high pressure of powdery mildew (oidium), especially with the puny organic materials that are not nearly as effective as the conventional ones — and much more expensive!

Very few bunches had this much color in the Doña Margarita Vineyard. Looking good, though!

We love the insectary patch below the vineyard, full of Queen Anne's Lace (we don't like their other name, wild carrot, as much).

Other than the organic sprays, aggressive leafing has been necessary as well as immediate removal of each berry that shows the first sign of mildew, even cluster thinning of any bunches that are lumped together, despite the low yields, to ensure the aeration of the canopy.

It was hot this week! Fortunately, after two hours of running in the Doña Margarita Vineyard Jim gave us a long drink of water ...

In our Don Miguel Vineyard, the Tempranillo has barely started véraison -- we're not going to pick that until October for sure!

The good news is that, although small and sparse, the bunches look really good. They are healthy and well balanced, while the vine rows are nicely trimmed and tidy.  Our vineyard team is doing an excellent job!

They've been doing sooo much leafing in the Don Miguel Vineyard... And it's been hot, too! We do feel bad for the vineyard team

Bonita bath
And we got so messy, Patricia had to give us a bath! I love baths, but Chico hates them...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Véraison is finally arriving!!

This year is actually shaping up to be even later than last – which was the latest harvest in our history!  It has been a tough year so far and continues to be; at this stage, when normally we should be almost at 100% véraison, it is just beginning and only in a couple of blocks.  The fruit looks healthy, but that has not been easy; the threat of powdery mildew and botrytis, our natural arch-enemies due to our location so close to to the ocean, have been particularly severe with the cold weather we’ve had this year.

dogs being groomed
We are being professionally groomed these days! Our trainer not only exercises us and trains us 2-3 days a week, she also grooms us. We love it!!

Walking the Don Miguel Vineyard today, we finally saw the first signs of véraison, in the Swan clone!

A lot of work has gone into leafing the vines, hedging, and spraying the organic fungicides like Kaligreen and Sonata that provide some protection against those  dreadful fungi; we’ve had to increase the frequency compared to normal years, as well as extend it.  You see, due to their nature, organic fungicides are less effective than conventional ones — and more expensive.  We still see the threat of mildew, even though it should be over by now!

Leafing, hedging and cutting off laterals has been a non-stop activity this year!

In the cooler Doña Margarita Vineyard, botrytis came so early that many berries never had a chance -- it burned them and they dried up

On the Sonoma Coast, our Doña Margarita Vineyard is requiring an enormous amount of attention — but thanks to that, the  few clusters that survived the cool spring are looking very good indeed!

A consequence of the poor set was millerandage, or peas and pumpkins, which diminishes yields

But some Pinot Noir clusters look beautiful, like these in the Doña Margarita Vineyard!

Our new planting of Syrah and Tempranillo is doing terrific! We have two clones of Syrah, the 877 (from our own vineyard) and a new one, the 470, which we field grafted from dormant nursery wood last spring. These plants are growing neatly up the tube — but we really  find fall budding much preferable, since you really gain half a year. You see, by grafting from green budwood (our own) in August or September, now the plants are much more established and mature.

Found an excellent insectary patch below the vineyard, full of Queen Ann's Lace (also known as wild carrot). Can you see the lady bugs??

The closer rows, field grafted in the spring, are just coming out the tubes; whereas the vines we field budded last fall, in the background, are much more established