What’s Happening in the Vineyard – February
February 18, 2014
Hello to all growers, winemakers, and all those that enjoy being part of the Paso Wine Community.
While the Winter is normally a time for reflection on the prior harvest and drinking many a glass of red wine while staring out the window to watch the rain, this year has been one for drinking white wine and praying for rain. The only umbrellas I’ve seen have been in my fruity drinks with this beach weather.
The vines are quiet this time of year, but a lot of work is being done, and plans are being made. Winter is the time for reviewing contracts, deciding on a pruning strategy, and focusing on what needs to be done for the current year.
Pruning is job #1 for this time of year. The timing of when to prune, and how much to prune is a critical decision that has possibly the greatest impact on your crop. Prune too early, and the vines may wake up too soon and be exposed to an early season frost. Prune too late and you risk not being able to find a labor crew, or risk pushing your harvest date back and exposing yourself to a late season frost in October. Prune too much growth, and you limit the potential fruitful buds, and limit the yield potential. Prune too little, and you may have too many canes, lots of vegetation, and too much fruit, which may result in negative flavor characteristics.
Winter is also the time of year for doing the Winery/Grower dance. Contract renewals and extensions are commonly dated for early in the year when the winery has a chance to see what their actual sales have been, what they think they can sell going forward, and what quality level they can foresee from the specific vineyard. This is also the opportunity for the grower to test the market, see what wineries are growing, who is doing well, and who is paying slower than normal. Do you continue the relationship, do you test the market, do you make the decision to crush the fruit and sell as bulk wine?
Historically, this time of year has been very busy with applying herbicides (if you are farming traditionally). With the lack of rainfall, the majority of spray equipment has been idle. Every grower across the State of California is praying for rain. We all need the rain to leach the salts from the root zones, provide moisture across the soil profile, keep down the dust, and rejuvenate aquifers and reservoirs that are being strained. Water is the single biggest issue for 2014, and the one thing we know is that we don’t have enough of it.
2014 is going to be an interesting year. Every grower is going to look at the cards that have been dealt by Mother Nature, and make their play.
J Dusi Wines