I was talking with a wine-loving friend who asked if this is a quiet time in the vineyard. While explaining the many activities going on now, I could see that he was interested in knowing more about what goes on in the vineyard. That gave me the idea to do a series of posts to help others learn more about where your wine comes from. The vines came out of dormancy several weeks ago as the buds began to swell and became the shoots you can see in the below photos. The first order of business for the farmer as the shoots grow is to guard the tender leaves and flower clusters against fungi, usually, powdery mildew or bunch rot that attack grape vines and ruin the fruit. At Griffin Hill, that usually means spraying mineral oil and then a regular spraying of elemental sulfur using an air blast sprayer. We also begin shoot thinning now to open up the canopy to let sunlight and air help fight the fungi. This shoot thinning also gets more sun on the clusters, which has been shown to cause more flavor to accumulate in the grapes and helps ensure against sunburn of the grapes during the summer months. We do this by hand and at this time of the year, the shoots are easily removed without tools. This timely and skilled canopy mangement is a major contributor to our wine quality and character.
Before: The clusters are hidden in excess canopy
After: Sun and air can reach the clusters.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!