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

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