Update on what is happening in the vineyards.  Berries are now sizing up a bit.  We are right on the verge of verasion.  Verasion is color change in the reds or berry softening in the whites.  Basically it is one of the stopping points in the growth phase before they actually go through their last bit of ripening.  Especially for the reds, this is one of the last good opportunities to do some thinning.

I mentioned before, when we are going through bloom, if your bloom is not ‘even’ (the time within a vine from when the first cluster blooms and the last cluster blooms) that difference in time carries all the way through to harvest.  The problem is you can’t tell the difference at harvest.  The time you can tell the difference in that maturity is at verasion.  The cluster that flowered first will change color first.  If the time between the first and last cluster blooming was a week, then the color change between the first and last cluster changing color will be about a week also.  That last cluster will also be about that far behind at final maturity. 

Frediani Vyd

So we like to go through the vineyards when the berries are at 60% to 80% color changed and take off the clusters that are green and obviously behind, since that stuff later in the year will be lower in maturity and be hard to sample.  You can make errors in both directions in thinking you are more ripe than you are or less ripe than you are.   You need to know exactly what is going on.  It will probably be a couple more weeks before we do the thinning, maybe the beginning of the second week of August.  It will be one of the last major things that we do.  Usually by that time the grapes have enough sugar that we worry less about powdery mildew, so any type of spray, dust or treatment that is done will be the last one. 

As you are probably aware, we have had some very, very hot weather out here.  I think everyone in the United States has been under the feel of the hot pressure, certainly all the west coast.  We have had several days in excess of 110 degrees.  The fruit is not at a point right now that it can get terribly sunburned, because the berries are still pretty hard and green.  You do see some sunburn damage under very extreme conditions like this on fruit that is exposed, but it shouldn’t be a big issue at this point.  As the berries do soften and turn color, it will become an issue.  After 3 or 4 days at over 100 degrees, we are heading down.  We might not even break 100 degrees today.   Hopefully everything will be good from here on out. 

What this heat does do to the grapes is it definitely does make the growth stop.  You can see that in the vineyards now.  It’s just about the right time for that.  You want the shoots to stop growing around verasion so that most of the goodies that come from photosynthesis will go to the fruit rather than to growing big long canes.  So it’s about the right time for that, maybe just a hair early. 

Dead Fred Vyd

I’ve seen all good canopies’s everywhere.  I haven’t seen any yellowing of leaves at this point.  No real sign of super bad water stress.  Time will tell.  The long term forecasters are saying the first half of August is supposed to be a little bit milder than normal, and the last half of August a little warmer than normal.   They are also still calling for a little warmer than normal fall as well.  It’s the same old story… we don’t like it too cold and we don’t like it too hot, and we don’t like it too dry and we don’t like it too wet.  Winemaker’s are among the pickiest when it comes to weather, and it is almost never perfect.  But, we are in pretty good stead at this point.

Mia in Frediani Vyd

Tracy and I are heading off to Ohio and Kentucky the first part of August for a couple of trade tastings.  We’ve been to Ohio once and really enjoyed our visit.  We haven’t been to Kentucky yet, so we are looking forward to that.  I’m sure we will be looking forward to getting back to Napa Valley as well.  Pretty much God’s country out here, as anyone who’s been here knows.   I’m looking forward to getting things ready for harvest also.

We have a few blend tastings coming up.  I’m tasting a lot of blends with some of my clients.  I’m going to want to take a look at some of my 2005 reds to see what possible blending opportunities we will have.  So lots of tasting in August.  

I really don’t think we will have Sauvignon Blanc in before the end of the first week in September.  Knock on wood!

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