Friday, June 20, 2014

The Grapes are Looking Good!

Well, Mom is in Europe and we are at our beloved kennel, Tappen Hill -- but we asked Zach to send us some pictures and his impressions from the last visit, when he, Filiberto and Tony went to the Don Miguel Vineyard. He sent us these and we thought you would like to see them!

Good news is, the grapes are growing beautifully and we are most excited about how they are developing. So far the vines are very healthy, with no signs of powdery mildew (oidium) or bunch rot (botrytis), our natural arch-enemies!

The Pinot Noir clusters are loose and don't
look like they will be tight this year!

The Chardonnay clusters are showing some 'peas and pumpkins' but look very healthy

The 'Earthquake Block' Pinot Noir (Pommard clone) looks even better than a few weeks ago

The shoots are still actively growing, for the most part, and fruit exposure is good, even though the vines have not been leafed yet.
Clusters are big in the Syrah, Tempranillo and Albarino; these are behind the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Here the clusters show some 'peas and pumpkins' -- smaller and normal-sized berries in the same cluster -- as a result of the brief rains during bloom, which will make for a smaller crop.
But at this point, all these are projections and a lot can still happen to change the outlook; so we keep our fingers crossed!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Flowers Have Become Real Grapes!

The fruit set has been very good and we are very optimistic about the new harvest! The canopies look healthy and early yield estimates are higher than average, which would make this the third consecutive large crop - something almost unprecedented. Of course that's if everything stays perfect until harvest, as many factors can still affect the crop size and quality.

Filiberto, Mom and I walked by the new AlbariƱo planting to check the 'take' of the new grafts

Only a week after field grafting, the first leaves are appearing already and they all look very healthy!

The new clusters are healthy and nicely sized

I learned a little viticulture lesson that I found really interesting! The vine has a perfect flower, in that it has both the female part (ovary) and male part (stigma) in it - therefore it is self-pollinating. The flower also has a cap over it, which it sheds after fruit set.

Our insectary, pictured in my last blog, attracts insects that will pollinate other flowers, but not the vine flowers. Still, it helps create diversity - one of the principles of Biodynamics.

In the picture to the left you can see a cluster after fruit set, with some brown caps still on, as well as some dead flowers (brown dots) that never were pollinated so they didn't become fruit. 

If you shake the cluster or pass your hand over it, both the caps and the flowers that didn't make it fall off. Mom showed me and it's very neat!