Farming Your Way Through Vineyard Inflictions
Each year, a growing season presents a series of challenges to overcome. The level of difficulty varies. Whether it’s pest-related or weather-related, these issues can negatively impact the vine and fruit balance a farmer strives to maintain. Overcoming these adversities requires a crew that is responsive and knowledgeable – not just in tending vineyards, but having a familiarity that only comes with the same staff spending season after season repeating tasks around each separate blocks of those vines.
Happily, here at Lynmar we are enabled to farm our vineyards down to the smallest detail. Lynn and Anisya Fritz, who own and manage the vineyards and winery, took me from a firm that required me to oversee hundreds of acres and managing several sets of crews to being able to concentrate all my efforts with one full time crew and focus on home vineyards of less than 100 acres. We not only have 100% employed vineyard manager and staff, but also own and maintain all of our own equipment. We are totally self sustaining and totally focused on our extraordinary site.
This year, a few blocks at Lynmar Estate, like a number of other vineyards in the area, have been affected by a problematic condition referred to as Pinot Leaf Curl, or PLC. Pinot Leaf Curl is believed to be caused by a sudden reduction in nitrogen assimilation in young green tissue of the vine. For whatever reason, PLC appears to be very specific to the Pinot family, Noir, Blanc, Meunier and Gris. Pinot, it seems, is just a more sensitive varietal.
PLC is most prevalent in springs when vines begin growing rapidly in warm, favorable weather and then suddenly slowed by an onset of cold, wet weather. Extensive testing by industry leading plant biochemists has ruled out any viral, fungal or otherwise biological cause of this condition. Also, no relationship has been found between nutrient status or specific rootstock in the affected blocks. Oftentimes PLC can turn up in blocks and clones that have never previously shown signs of sensitivity to similar conditions. The industry has not identified any measurable metric related to PLC.
When a block of our Pinot finds itself in the grasp of PLC, there is little to do but to observe, call neighbors and commiserate until the extent of the affected vines is fully identified. We then follow up with our own best management practice of hand selecting specific shoots for their viability and manage the vineyard for wine balance. Some vines, shoots and clusters may end up well behind their neighbors.
We are in the fortuitous position of owning our own vineyards and remaining focused exclusively on wine quality. And our crew understands the objective. Now, our veteran crew has experience at managing this condition and procuring the highest quality from blocks affected by this early season condition.
The finest and most consistently ripening clusters will be hand selected while those falling behind will be culled extensively. Multiple measures will be used throughout the year: shoot length, bloom timing, and coloration all being strong and early indicators.We are in the fortuitous position of owning our own vineyards and remaining focused exclusively on wine quality. And our crew understands the objective. Now, our veteran crew has experience at managing this condition and procuring the highest quality from blocks affected by this early season condition.
This is a season-long task can’t be done remotely, nor can it be completed in a single pass. Fruit selection and thinning will have to be constant and continual, right up through and during harvest until the fruit is delivered to the winery. At that point, it will be reviewed one more time by hand on a sorting table before a lot determination is made for fermentation. With these numerous quality control checkpoints throughout the year, a consistent level quality is able to be produced vintage after vintage, no matter what type of hand the growing season deals us.