Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vineyard Update - May 11th

May 11, 2012

Our estate vineyard is brimming with life. The plants are fully awake, the ladybugs are ganging up on delicious (to them) aphids, and, if you listen closely enough, you can just about hear the shoots growing.

Our Grenache vines are the most advanced so far, with shoots about 6 inches long. The Roussanne is lagging, with shoots between one-half inch and 2 inches. The trend will likely continue past fruit set, but we will undoubtedly harvest Roussanne before Grenache.

As noted in a previous post, we’ve begun some important changes here at Edward Sellers. We have purposely cut back on the available fruiting positions on the vines to redirect some of the energy back into the wood and, further down the road, the potential grapes. Come harvest, the vines will yield no more than about 2 tons of fruit per acre. In doing so this year we hope to enliven the vines and make the fruit that we do harvest that much more concentrated.

With all the desirable growth we must also contend with springtime’s unwanted visitor: powdery mildew. Mildew is present in every vineyard worldwide and loves the kinds of temperatures that grapes and humans also like: 70 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Left unchecked, powdery mildew will destroy a season’s crop.

To combat powdery mildew we spray a mixture of organic horticultural oil and a dilute tea that we make from the plant Equisetum arvense, commonly known as horsetail. We follow the UC Davis Powdery Mildew Index to determine when and how often to spray. Generally, we will do so every 12 to 14 days until the fruit reaches about 13 brix.

Next week we will begin thinning shoots and removing suckers. This cultural practice will allow the vines to focus on growing the fruit that we want and it will open them up to the sun and the wind.

No comments: