Those "clusters" I talked about in the last blog post are now opening into flower clusters as you can see in the accompanying photo. The weather had been very cool and we needed some heat for best fruit set. That's just starting to happen. The timing is great and it looks like it could be a good vintage if the heat is moderate through the growing cycle. You can see that grape "flowers" aren't too showy, but the cool thing is that there is a tiny flower for each future grape. Also, they are self-pollinating, so even though the bees like to come get pollen, we don't have to worry about them getting pollinated (that is, if the weather behaves: think warm). There are two clusters per cane and approximately twenty canes on each vine, adjusted for vine vigor and size. Now and through the summer is when excessive canes and clusters are removed, so when done correctly, no one ever needs to "drop fruit" to get the vines to ripen.
A lot of time is spent on each vine this time of the year, checking for pests, removing unwanted shoots, gently pushing any sagging canes into the support wires and removing the suckers, which are unwanted growth down at the soil line. By the time I rotate through the vineyard and get to each vine, it's been a month since its last session, so they always need attention. In many ways they are like children, needing direction and firm discipline to produce the best fruit. Something you may not know is that if left to their own devices, the vines become medium-sized bushes and do not look vine-like at all. In such a feral state, they produce almost no fruit at all. The vineyardist therefore can derive a lot of satisfaction from the work on the vines as they look so great all neat, trimmed and with a fruiting zone full of beautiful grape clusters. Can't wait to share those pictures!