In The Vineyard
Over the past few weeks, the landscape of the vineyard has been transformed. Gone is the stark vista of elegant vines so clearly defined against a lush carpet of cover crop. Instead, the rolling hills of Quail Hill Vineyard are awash in the fresh green of new leaves on the vines, which become more abundant each day. The tractor moves busily between the rows, mowing and mulching the cover crop to rich, organic manure and ensuring the seeds get returned to the earth for next year.
With the rising temperatures, the soils are warmer and the roots are more actively absorbing nutrients while restoring color to the vines, peaked after the efforts of bud break in cool weather. Suckering, the selection of primary fruiting positions by removal of unwanted shoots and growth, is in full swing and the pressure is on the vineyard crew. This needs to be completed well before flowering, which typically happens when there are between 12 and 14 nodes on the vine. The more advanced vines in the vineyard are already at eight nodes and the window is narrowing.
There is more the vineyard crew must worry about. As temperatures creep up past 75 degrees, the young vines are susceptible to powdery mildew. Mildew stunts growth and can affect the vintage by affecting the green fruit post bloom and arresting ripening and the accumulation of sugar. So the tractor is out again spraying horticultural oils to smother mildew spores.
This is also the time when the vines absorb nutrients effectively. So organic sources of calcium, boron, zinc, magnesium, nitrogen, iron, phosphorus, manganese and potassium are being applied.
All this is done with consideration to the block, its age, the rootstock, its performance in the last harvest and its growth thus far.
In a few weeks, we will have a sense of the crop….very exciting!