Optimistic about 2016
We seem to have the drought behind us, at least for this season. Here are our vines in mid-May. They have been shoot thinned, leaving about 30 shoots per vine, which results in an open canopy of leaves without too much shading of the developing fruit. The remaining shoots have been tucked into the trellis wire, so that they grow upwards, and can grab onto the wires for support to prevent them from breaking off in the wind. Soon we will be through and pinch off any extra clusters—we only want two per shoot to ensure concentration in the wine (but this year there are very few shoots with more than two, so this will be a quick pass). Traditionally May 15 is considered the frost free date, and we seemed to have dodged the bullet this year for frost.
We go into each season with each vine carrying about 30 shoots and 60 clusters. So makes vintages different? It’s the conditions that are to come over the next 4 to 5 months. We hope for Goldilocks conditions—not too much or too little of anything. We hope for mild days without too much drama. For example, our 2,000+ vines were in the early stages of bloom on May 21, when about one third of an inch of rain fell, which potentially might interfere with the pollination and fruit set. Only time will tell if this will affect the crop. But an early call would be that this rain, plus the relative lack of clusters (and fruitfulness is largely determined in the previous season) indicate that this season may be below average in yield. Time will tell.