The Ravings of a Passionate Viticulturist ~ Cusp of 2014 harvest
(2014 Wine Grape Growing Season Notes From Kiler Canyon Vineyard, Westside Paso Robles)
1) Completion of fruit set in all varietals
2) Berry growth (sizing)
3) Onset of Verasion
4) Nearly all varietals except Mourvedre have completed Verasion
5) Judicious watering to maintain the health of the vines so that the fruit develops to be healthy, berries remain small and harvest fruit is concentrated.
Fruit set was generally excellent to good with a small amount of shatter in Grenache. Verasion (berry color change) began early in the 4th week of July in Syrah. This is about 1-2 weeks early when compared to the past 12 years. This led us to believe the growing season was continuing to be early. Now, we have found that the early harvest anticipation is not as significant. Note, Syrah is at sugar 20.6 to 22.3 brix as of last Friday. Projected Syrah harvest is 3-4 weeks away or ~ September 14.
|LXV Syrah/Shiraz Bunches at Kiler Canyon Vineyard 8-18-2014|
|Grenache Canopy 8-18-2014|
|Grenache Bunches at Kiler Canyon Vineyard 8-18-2014|
|LXV Syrah/Shiraz Canopy at Kiler Canyon Vineyard 8-8-2014|
The canopy is starting to look a little ragged in the most advanced ripened varietal Syrah but remains healthy in all other varietals.
Water: The growing season continues to remain nicely cool with temperatures rarely exceeding 100F and generally hovering in the 90s with cool nights of 54-60F. Note, these cool nights are critical to the maintenance of adequate acid in the fruit which should result in a lively, complex tasting rather than a flabby low acid wine.
So, we have not had a lot of pressure to water excessively. Our irrigation of the vines is now tailored to the location in the vineyard and varietal.
We do this in three ways: 1) Monitor the soil moisture content at depths of 14”, 25” and 36”. Note, for the first time in 14 years of wine grape growing the soil moisture at 36” depth is very low, at or below the wilting point. In parts of the vineyard and no matter how much we irrigate we cannot push the moisture to this depth.
At this time of the growing season it is important to maintain adequate plant hydration while at the same time inducing stress(to get berry fruit concentration, anthocyanin(color) and tannin(contributes to mouth feel & structure) ). 2) We do this with a special type of soil moisture sensors(set at depths of 25” and 36”) termed Matric Potential Sensors. What these sensors do is provide information on how close to the wilting point the plant is likely to be. This is so we can induce moisture stress but not so much that the plant will shut down. 3) Take leaf porometer measurements of the rate at which the bottom sides of the leaves are transpiring water. 4) Human eye observation of the leaf-petiole angle. Note an acute angle, ~35-45 degrees indicates the plant is well hydrated and an angle larger than 60 degrees indicates the plant is under stress.
Don Hofer taking leaf porometermeasurements of plant leaf moisture
Comb honey from Kiler Canyon Vineyard Apiary