It’s been a while since I posted a vineyard update; I’ve been focused on processing our current wine club shipment for the last couple weeks. Plenty has been happening at the vineyard, including our first sulfur applications, cover crop mowing, and lots of crown suckering. We’ve had a couple drizzly days, but no rain to speak of. In fact, the weather has been really nice—alternating warm and cool (rather than hot and cold) every three or four days, with pleasant breezes. Let’s hope it continues—knock wood.
I am getting a bit tingly about the nascent crop I am seeing out there: Above is Pinot clone 943. I’ve been so used to seeing these vines throw clusters like tiny hand grenades that this is quite a surprise—they are long and straggly for a change. This is potentially the largest Pinot crop I’ve seen at our vineyard since 2006, and the most uniform ever.
Several weeks ago I thought the Grenache was preparing to throw a short crop. No longer: We are going to have plenty of thinning options. I’m thankful to see a potential increase in yield for the Pinot and Grenache after two very short years. The Syrah and the Mourvedre appear to be throwing an “average” crop. The Tannat and Counoise look a little light, as of today. Next steps at the vineyard:
- continued sulfur applications, timed according to disease modeling,
- complete all crown and trunk suckering,
- start the first pass of shoot thinning for density and position, and
- start lifting the lower trellis wires into position as the shoot thinning is completed.
It is hard for me to believe the vineyard is already over a decade old. I’m seeing a little Eutypa in the Mourvedre which we need to manage. Since the very heavy crop load in 2006 we have seen some early decline in Syrah—a vine here, a vine there. The worst affected block was the Tablas Creek A selection on 420A rootstock. The 420A is slower than other stocks to develop a deep permanent root structure, so the timing of the heavy 2006 crop was especially unfortunate for this block, where the vine root system simply was not developed well enough to keep up with the demands. We have been grubbing out the dead vines and replanting for a couple years: This is what came out of the TC/420A block this year.
Overall I am guardedly optimistic that the 2012 growing season is going to be better than 2010 and 2011 were. I’m not alone in this assessment. Kimberly Hatcher of Morgado Cellars sent me in an email the other day:
I am so excited about this weather and how all of the vineyards are looking. I feel so strongly that 2012 is going to be an awesome vintage…
A friend posted on Facebook the other day: “In Hungarians’ eyes an optimist is a person who is poorly informed.” I’m feeling like I could be a bit “poorly informed” regarding this season; perhaps Ms. Hatcher is a little more so.