Linden Update | June 2018
The vines are exhibiting a high degree of resilience through all this gloomy rain. We growers take note and try to follow suit. It has been a difficult period since I last wrote, with more late spring rain than memory can recall. The vines are finishing the important bloom stage with mixed results. Dry, warm weather is ideal for a successful pollination and fertilization of grapes. Fortunately last week provided us a good six-day period that may have saved the vintage.
There have been some problems in our new chardonnay planting. This was to be the year that the three-year-old vines would produce a first crop. Because the vines are young, and because chardonnay is first to bloom, the flowering coincided with the worst of the rain. While it is too early to assess at this point, I would be happy with half the crop I was originally planning on. It seems that other older blocks of chardonnay have fared better. The merlot crop may also be down, but other varieties look pretty good.
With all this water the vines are going wild with vigor. There is only so much we growers can accomplish in a given day. My job is to prioritize our efforts. Right now we are mostly focused on opening up and aerating the cluster zone, which is at the lower section of the green canopy. If newly forming clusters are buried in leaves, mold and rot can wreak havoc. We spend our days removing leaves and unwanted shoots from this zone so that when drying weather, and maybe even sun, appears the clusters dry out.
The French adage “June makes the quantity and September makes the quality” is a reminder that we still have a long way to go and that things can and will change quickly. Our yields will be down, but that often translates into higher quality.
Our newly planted baby vines love all this rain. A few weeks ago we removed all but one shoot and that shoot is now growing quickly. We will soon need to secure it to the bamboo with twine. Soon these shoots will be finding the trellis wire and securing themselves with their tendrils. This tender shoot will become the vine’s permanent trunk.