Promises of a New Vintage
As I walk around my home vineyard this year there is a sense of calmness. The vines look extremely healthy with no semblance of disease or pest attack. The various varieties are at different levels of fruit set and sizing. Flowering has finished. I miss the perfumes of the different varieties. Each with a scent that is discernibly specific to itself. Fruit sizing is an amazing time in the vineyard. The fruit almost seems to grow before your eyes. What initially is a very small little ball of promise, quickly sizes and expands to become a full grown grape that works with it's neighbors to create a full and juicy bunch. That juicy bunch will eventually be one of many bunches that will be harvested and processed for this year's vintage.
When one hears or reads that a specific wine vintage was a great, good, or mediocre year, you really don't get a true appreciation of what that means unless you have grown your own grapes. We have all heard that wine is made in the vineyard. The promise of a healthy vine is to provide the best fruit possible. That promise, however, needs the wine grower's help. Like a child, the vineyard needs to be nurtured and shepherded through the trials and tribulations that, in the case of a grapevine, Mother Nature will send its way. Hopefully you don't have a leaky roof to deal with at home in the baby's nursery! Only with the vineyard manager's regular oversight and knowledge of what to do with various situations, can the vineyard fulfill its promise.
This year, as you can see from the photos, the vines are healthy and laden with immature fruit with little assistance, other than regular sprays and weed control maintenance, from me. This, as history has shown me, can change very quickly if we start getting a lot of rain and humidity; bringing on the potential of fungal diseases; if I don't increase the spray frequency. Or, heaven forbid, Japanese beatles happen to invade and work to defoliate the vines. Both situations could greatly change the outcome of this year's vintage, and not for the better. But, as I have said many times, it's just like raising a child. You do your best to parent and provide direction. You pray your children will find their way in life and have a happy and healthy existence. Many things can take them off that track. It is the job of us parents to help them back to the right path.
For now, my home vineyard is one that I am proud to give tours of to friends and family and walk through on a daily basis. My pergola is beautifully covered with grape vines (pictured above), providing a nice shady escape on the recent sunny and hot days. All the varieties have healthy growth and proper fruit set. As I mentioned previously, the fruit is sizing quickly as the grape bunches fill and head towards veraison and maturity. Right now, all is calm and on track at my home vineyard. Just like an expectant father, however, you can never be too relaxed and you need to be ready for when something goes awry. Inevitably, something always goes off track a bit. If it wasn't challenging, it wouldn't be so rewarding.