June 19, 2019 09:43
June is a very busy month in the journey through the growth-cycle of our vines. Over the course of about three weeks, our vineyards have experienced two of the most critical phases in development: flowering and fruit set. As we lead up to the 2019 harvest, this is when we can really begin to forecast our tonnage expectations for the year.
flowering. flou(ə)riNG. Adjective, Noun, and Verb. the act or state of producing flowers: the period during which a plant produces flowers
fruit-set. fro͞ot set. Noun and Verb. when flowering clusters turn into berries
Flowering (sometimes referred to as ‘bloom’) generally occurs during late spring, about 40-80 days after budbreak. The cluster buds open up and pollination happens (without bees), fertilizing the grape berries. Flowering began in our Green Valley vineyards in late May and into the beginning of June, luckily after our unexpected rainstorm in mid-May. Our Chardonnay vines are always pruned first, so they are also first to flower. The photo displaying flowering was taken May 30th at Dutton Ranch. During bloom, the delicate grape flowers are vulnerable to wind, rain, or an unexpected late frost, which can severely reduce the amount of flowers that actually pollinate and create berries. Mother Nature was kind to us this year, giving us great mild temperatures and breezes during this critical time. As we predicted earlier in the growing season, based on our flowering dates, harvest still looks like it could be two to three weeks behind a typical year, giving us a start date in September.
This past week (mid-June) we started to see the fruit-set in our vines. Typically, about 10-14 days after flowering, fruit-set should be well established and the pollinated flowers forming small green berries that will eventually grow into individual grapes. You can recognize in the picture below, taken at Emerald Ridge Vineyard, that the flowers that have become berries by the little dark dot at the tip. Once set is done, we can estimate fairly accurate cluster weights and counts, dialing in our tonnage expectations for the season.
Stay tuned next month for an update on the success of our completed set.
May 15, 2019 09:25
For this month's stop on the journey through the growth-cycle of our vines, we focus a crucial part of vineyard prep as we lead up to the 2019 harvest. As our vines have experienced new growth in the past month, it is now time for suckering.
suckering. suck·er·ing. verb. The removal of vegetative formation of a new stem and root system from an adventitious bud of a stem or root, either naturally or by human action
Just as anyone who has grown fruit trees in their yard knows, you always get some extra shoots coming up from the base of the tree, or low along the trunk. This extra new growth takes away energy that should be going toward the main part of the plant, and the fruit.
This is the time of year when we go in and remove the extra growth, allowing the vine to concentrate on its primary task. In the images, you can see that the Dutton Ranch crew has just come through the vineyard, as the leaves on the ground are still fresh. You can also see what looks like tiny grapes on the clusters in the vine. These are actually the flower buds that haven’t opened yet.
Rain this week is causing concern for growers and winemakers, as if flowering occurs during wet weather, good pollination won’t happen (as we experienced in 2015). Grapes are self-pollinating, so no bees are required, but good weather is. Dampness keeps the flower cap from coming off all the way to expose the pistol and stamen, so they can do their work of pollination and creating the life that will become the grape berry. Keep your fingers crossed for us that our delayed start to the growing season this year will time things right so bloom waits another week to begin. Then, bring on the warm sunshine and Russian River Valley breezes to take us into a good set for the 2019 harvest. Stay tuned for our next update to find out how it all played out!