Thursday, August 18, 2011
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!
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.
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!
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
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.
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.
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!
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!