It’s shaping up to be another very strong vintage, in terms of vine vigor and quantity of grapes hanging on the vines. This is certainly encouraging to me, as the balance between leaves and clusters is extremely important for uniform development across each vineyard block.
The significant rain we received in mid-Spring is still apparent when walking through the vineyard, even though the cover crop is drying up and going dormant. Long shoots and dense leaf canopies are present in the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, providing plenty of energy to the roots and clusters. Look at this picture – Our shoots are over 7 feet long!
The growth continued rapidly all month, even accelerating during warm weeks. The leaves function as the “engine” of the grapevine, generating sugars, organic acids, and other compounds important to the health of the vine and the quality of the grapes harvested. With big leaf canopies, we have a lot of horsepower in our engines this year!
The strength expressed by our vines will result in very impactful wines if the right decisions are made in the vineyard. Much hand labor is involved, starting with shoot thinning and continuing with select leaf removal on one side of the vines. This allows for improved airflow around the clusters and lower risk of mildew. We’ll also evaluate the crop load as the season progresses, removing surplus clusters if needed.
One concern we share with grape growers around the world is the impact of local weather during bloom. Any rain, high winds, or excessive heat can cause poor fruit set and lower yields. We had some rain at the beginning of our bloom period, and are now noticing some “shatter”, with individual berries falling off the cluster. A little of this is beneficial, allowing a more open cluster at peak ripeness and airflow around the berries. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have compact clusters, and if every single flower developed into full size berry, some would get squeezed off their stem, resulting in a sticky mess in the interior of the cluster. I am quite pleased with the developing clusters so far this year, and look forward to great quality at harvest.
The grapes will continue to expand in size over the month of July, until we start to see the color changes signaling veraison. I expect this to begin mid-month in our Pinot Noir. This will be another cue for us to continue preparations for harvest, emptying barrels, bottling more of the 2018 vintage, and readying our crush equipment!
What to do with a half bottle?
Most of our wines are bottled in 750 milliliter bottles, which has been a standard wine bottle size for generations. With the volume in a wine bottle equal to a fifth of a gallon, this is certainly not a single serving package.
For those times when you don’t have someone to help you polish off that bottle, take comfort in the fact that all our wines can hold up for several days after opening, if stored properly. You don’t need any fancy vacuum pumps or inert gas cannisters – just twist the cap back on and put the bottle in the fridge! This will slow down any oxidation and keep the wine fresh until you’re ready for another glass. (For our red wines, you’ll want to give them a few minutes in the glass to warm up and allow the aromas to fully express themselves.) I’ve found open bottles that have been in my fridge for many days, and still enjoyed the wine fully.
Another great option is to invite a few friends over the next time you open a bottle, and never worry about a partial bottle again!