This year’s weather has been a mirror image of 2016 thus far. Last year’s growing season started off extremely early and warm and stayed that way until July when the weather turned rainy and cool. The 2017 growing season began very cool and rainy and stayed that way until July. Now we are in a heat spell. We have had several days in the 90’s and 100’s and the weather looks like it will stay that way for a while. The next major benchmark for the year will be veraison, which will help us predict harvest timing this year.
With the heat spell, we have finally begun to irrigate and the vines growth is slowing down. This is the first time since my arrival at Stillwater Creek in 2011 that we have not irrigated prior to bud break.
In the vineyard, we have been removing the lower two leaves, and lateral growth on the east side of the vines to increase airflow through the vines. With the cooler early temperatures and rain some Washington vineyards are finding powdery mildew, though I am happy to report there is no mildew at Stillwater Creek. The heat we are experiencing now will also help keep powdery mildew away as temperatures above 90 can kill the mildew. The heat has been extreme though, so I have halted the canopy work to avoid burn to the fruit. We are now making a second pass pulling trunk suckers.
The fruit is sizing up well and we have had a good berry set, so all looks well, so far.