Journal | July 16, 2018

Hardscrabble Journal

A More Relaxed Pace

The last three weeks of hot, dry weather have finally calmed the rate of vine growth. After a very intense two months of “green work," we finally have the vineyard canopy in good order. The timing and fastidiousness of green work, also referred to as canopy management, was especially critical this season because of the copious spring rains that stimulated vine growth. Shoot thinning, suckering, tying, shoot positioning, leaf removal, lateral removal, and hedging all need to be accomplished in a two-month period starting in mid-May and more or less ending now.

While we still have plenty to do, the pace has now relaxed. With continued dry conditions we may soon see the vines cease producing new vegetative growth. This would be ideal, as soon the vines need to turn their effort to ripening the grapes rather than growing unnecessary leaves. We already have more leaves than we need.

This past week I was able to find some time to get more acquainted with a small ridge that will soon become Linden’s newest Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard. This steep, rocky ridge has laid fallow for two years after an existing vineyard block was removed in 2016. My first approach is to simply mow it. Running the tractor up and down the hill gives me a more intimate appreciation for the slope angles and lay of the land. Next come the flags and compass as I try to determine the best row direction. Finally, out comes the soils map. There are some drainage swales and soil changes that need to be respected. All this for less than an acre of ground. I’ve learned through many decades of mistakes that this establishment phase is critical in determining the quality success of a vineyard block’s productive life.