Linden Update | June 2019
Vintage 2019 is progressing well. The first milestone of a vintage’s success is flowering. This year’s flowering was early (late May through the first week in June). Conditions were ideal with warm, sunny, dry days. The weather during bloom has an impact on both quantity and quality. Grapes are self-pollinating, but successful fertilization still requires dry conditions for the pollen to make its short journey. Such was the case, and the berries are visually forming.
Temperature during bloom has a bearing on quality. Uniform ripening makes for the highest quality wines. If the flowering is fast and efficient under warm conditions (as was the case this year), berry development will begin uniformly. If it is cool and damp, flowering can be drawn out over weeks leading to uneven berry development within the same cluster.
June is the foundation month for winemaking. I’m not talking about cellar work, as we have abandoned the cellar in order to spend 100% of our time in the vines. The vineyard work and decisions made in June lay the groundwork for the vintage. Maximizing sunlight and airflow in the vine’s canopy is the goal. Every shoot should have the same exposure to sun for even photosynthesis. Every cluster needs to have good airflow to prevent fungal disease. Unfortunately for us, this does not happen naturally, so we assist.
Green work is the best term that describes what we are doing in the vineyard right now. The vine’s shoots need some direction in finding their way to the top trellis wire. We position, tuck and tie each shoot of each vine of each row of each block. And when we are done we start all over again because they have grown another two feet since we first started.
The berries are now forming. Quickly I might add. They need some sun and aeration, but are being crowded out by too many leaves. Vine by vine we remove (by hand) excessive leaves and small shoots that crowd the fruiting zone.
This year looks like a big hedging year as some shoots have already passed the top wire and are looking to fall back down into the main canopy. We hedge them off before this happens.
2018’s planting struggled to get going this spring. Some vines did not make it through the winter, as they were too weak after the unforgiving rains and lack of sun last year. The planting is looking healthier now. As is often the case, these baby vines are trying to produce grapes. However, they are too young, and don’t have the root structure to both ripen a crop and develop their own structural foundation.
The only way to prevent them from producing a crop is to remove the clusters. By hand of course. The sooner the better, as it takes a lot of energy for the young vines to flower, pollinate, and start to develop the tiny berries. We have already completed deflowering, so the vines will only produce leaves this year. Next year they should be strong enough to support a small first crop.