A vineyard update is a good chance to come out of the HEAT, so I am doing just that. So far we have not had extremely high heat, but a very long period of high heat; much more than I have experienced to date. We are now applying water six days a week to keep up with the demands of the vines. The vines are looking strong and leaf color is good. This heat is likely to continue for an extended period of time.
I have just noticed a few berries in the Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec that have turned color, though not a high enough percentage to call the beginning of veraison just yet. Bud break and bloom were very similar to 2013, but with this heat I am guessing veraison will come on a little earlier in 2014, enough so that I am beginning to get harvest supplies arranged.
We are now seeing the new Chardonnay plants in block 23 emerging from the milk cartons and it looks like we have a very good take with this year’s new young plants. It feels good to see them get moving.
In the vineyard, we are working on leaf removal though with this heat we are not removing outside leaves, only those leaves bunched inside the canopy around the clusters. Removing the internal leaves will allow sunlight in while minimizing potential berry burning and improving conditions for fruit quality. Following leaf removal we will begin to thin the crop to proper cluster counts, an important part of producing high quality fruit.
If all goes according to plan, wine quality should be high this year. Hopefully, the weather cooperates. Here are a few recent pictures.