Sunday, May 23, 2010

Moving On

Dealing with our early budbreak put us a ways behind.  Not that that's anything other than normal at a vineyard--or any other part of my life for that matter--but we were just ahead in being behind, if that makes any sense. We've finally found our groove and are starting to feel under control in the vineyard.

A couple weeks ago we finished a bit more planting.  We have some spots in our Merlot that never took well with our first planting back in 2005.  I never did figure out what caused it, but I have a feeling it was a combination of a bunch of things.  First and foremost being that the nursery I bought the grafted vines from undoubtedly sent me a mixed bag of vines.  The weak ones have died out, but the rest are doing fine.

Don't ever get me started on grapevine nurseries--or printing companies....If I ever did my life over again, I'd head to one of those fields where there's a lot more tolerance for....well, a whole lot more tolerance for everything.

The grapes are looking well so far.  This cooler weather we've had has kept the vines in check for the most part.  We're still ahead of most years' timetable, but not as far as we could have been if we'd had anything close to normal weather since that heat spell in early April.  I've been watching the pattern of temperatures for the last month or so, and we seem to be starting out a lot like 2002 did (my first year here at Allegro.)  And if 2010 is anything like 2002, I'll be happy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It was cold....

OK, so I've been growing grapes for over ten years now, and this morning I had an experience unlike any I have ever had in a vineyard.....and can you keep your mind out of the gutter?

At 6:00 AM I was out in the early daylight looking at a thermometer. It started around 31F, and eventually bottomed out at 28.8F. I wasn't sure what to think. Allegro has never been totally nuked before.

This year started out so early, with temperatures in the high 80s in early April. We broke buds on our Chardonnay on April 7th, with the Cab following a few days later. Totally crazy, totally messed up. Don't tell me that climate change isn't real, because I'm living it in 2010.

I tried to explain to my boys what the early budbreak was all about. I compared it to being in a race and trying to jump the gun. If you get caught, you're disqualified and and out of the race. But, if you time it perfectly, you have a jump on the rest of the field. And that's the way I felt up until this morning.

Standing out in the lowest couple of rows of the Cab, I felt DQ'ed. Just waiting for the starter's gun to go off for a second time. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

A few hours later I went back out and started finding leaves that were crumpled up and blackened. But after lunch he damage hadn't spread much further. Our lower rows had intermittent injuries, but for the most part I think we're ok.

Of course, tonight could be a repeat of the same. Only difference is that I plan to put a fungicide spray on the vineyard, for two reasons: a) it's going to rain soon, and b) the air is supposed to be still, and having my sprayer blowing things around out there has to help a little. And every little bit counts.