Summer in the Vineyard: Important Tasks Ahead

VBlogJuly14Summer is here, and in California, grape growers and winemakers are riding an emotional rollercoaster.

On one hand, they are like other Californians in wishing that one of the worst droughts in the state’s history could be over. On the other hand, they know that too much rain in the summer can wreak havoc on the grape-growing season.

Following bud break in spring, a series of important tasks are undertaken in the vineyard to help ensure healthy and fully ripened grapes at harvest time.

There is the “desuckering” of the vines, removing any non-fruit shoots and encouraging the vine to focus its energies on those that do bear fruit. As the shoots grow, they must be raised from the ground and attached vertically to wires above the main support wires.

Next comes the more detailed task of trellising, which involves separating, or spacing out, the shoots so that they receive maximum light exposure. This process also encourages air circulation, which helps prevent rot.

After that, it’s a matter of keeping an eye on the vines to make sure they’re not producing too many bunches. If they are, they’ll be trimmed back in order to concentrate aromas and flavors in the remaining grapes.

Here’s how the Professional Friends of Wine describe “a perfect wine season”:

  • Cool, wet winter provides plenty of ground water.
  • Lack of rain or frost after the first warm days of spring.
  • Fruit dropped to ensure only a moderate crop load.
  • Mild days and cool nights all summer, with no rain or heat wave.
  • Vines minimally irrigated and moderately stressed.
  • Warm, dry days preceding and during harvest.

CBS This Morning recently ran an interesting feature on the drought dilemma for grape growers, and you can view it here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-historic-drought-proves-fruitful-wine-producers/

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