Managing New Growth in the Vineyard
Much of what’s happening in production this month is in the vineyard. By July the vines have achieved much of what they will look like for the rest of the growing season with a full and dense canopy. We’re happy to see a large fruit set this year. Fredi and I have focused a lot of effort on a critical time during the growing season – bloom. For about seven days in late May the vineyard produces flowers as the first step in setting fruit. Even though cultivated grape vines are self-fertile they still need to go through the flowering process to generate fruit. But rain and the application of some fungicides can interfere with this process. So we eliminated two fungicides that have demonstrated or suspected ability to disrupt this process. Rain is always a factor during bloom because it’s a tall order not to get any rain at all for a week in Virginia. Regardless of the confluence of vineyard management or luck, it looks like we’ll be harvesting a healthy amount of fruit this year.
In July we continue to battle the vigorous growth in the vineyard. We want grapevines to grow like little, manicured trees. But they just want to survive to perpetuate the species. They produce a lot of green growth (shoots, leaves, tendrils) that we really don’t need to ripen fruit. Plus they get in the way of being able to effectively farm the vineyard. So we thin excess shoots and leaves to open up the canopy and allow in sunlight and encourage air movement. This isn’t just a farming practice though. The fruit needs exposure to sunlight to develop the kind of fruit suitable for winemaking.