(2014 Wine Grape Growing Season Notes From Kiler Canyon Vineyard, Westside Paso Robles)
What's Happening in the Vineyard
Growing Season Timing: The dates of bud break (first opening of buds into leaves) and flowering are good indications of whether the growing season is early, normal or late. Syrah and Grenache plants were at 50% flowering two weeks ago 5/07/14. This is approximately 3 weeks earlier than normal for the past 5 years. Right now, these same Syrah and Grenache vines have reached fruit set which is when the grape flower has been pollinated and now forms a tiny berry. An indication of the degree of fruit set is what percentage of the flowers have turned into berries.
|Grenache fruit set 5-28-2014|
|Grenache bud break 3-15-2014|
|Grenache flowering 5-14-2014|
|LXV Shiraz/Syrah block, Kiler Canyon Vineyard|
|Grenache, Clone C, Kiler Canyon Vineyard|
Water: The growing season has been wonderfully cool, leading to less need to irrigate and vines with almost no exposure to heat stress at this time.
Last year, we started honey bee keeping and have become aware that many man-made chemicals applied to vineyards are very toxic to bees. So, a year ago, we stopped utilizing chemical fungicides in the vineyard. As a result, all of our powdery mildew sprays are natural materials such as stylett oil, sulfur and etc. More on the (etc.) and bees in a later writing.
Future Weeks: Next in the vineyard, these new berries need to grow to full size. The period for cell division growth in the grape berry is about 6 weeks. This is a critical period in the development of a berry as it is the largest factor determining berry size which we like to be as small as practical. The smaller the berry is larger the berry surface area/volume ratio becomes. The large surface area/volume ratio leads to increasing influence of berry skin vs berry pulp on the characteristics of the fruit and increased concentration of the fruit at harvest.
Conclusion: So If this temperate weather continues, I am looking forward to a banner growing season with much room for the extended hang time required to get each varietal to optimum ripeness.