Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Veraison in the Vineyard

Mid August is Veraison. The vines end their vegetative stage, and give their full attention towards the grapes. During this period, the berries stop expanding in size, begin developing sugar and flavor, and in the case of red grapes, they develop their color. It'll begin with Chardonnay and Merlot and end with Cabernet Sauvignon. So far we've been happy with how the vines have reacted to the year's conditions. We had an unexpectedly cool spring, which pushed flowering, and Veraison about two weeks behind where we were last year. What may result is a vintage higher in natural acidity, and a more developed ripeness. We won't know what the weather does to the crop until we begin harvesting the Chardonnay in a few weeks. Our biggest challenge this summer has been a pest called the grape leafhopper. Its a tiny insect that once established, can multiply by the thousands and before long can strip the chlorophyll from the canopy. The typical response would be to spray a pesticide such as dimethoate or provado, however we have a commitment to farming without the use of chemical pesticides. We performed a series of sprays consisting of Stylet oil, merely a diluted highly refined mineral oil, and pyrethum, a biological insecticide derived from the chrysanthemum flower. We are glad to say the leafhoppers are under control, and hopefully the vines, and our wines are healthier. For now, the bird netting is on and there's little to do in the vineyard except wait for the picking crews. I've included a picture of the vineyard truck, which doubles as my office. The 1979 Toyota truck will never give up on us.

Sam Stetser

Vineyard Manager

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