Bud break is a distant memory, bloom in May was without any problems and now the vineyard crew is catching up on shoot thinning and drip irrigation as summer begins. The push is on as canes grow longer and bunches of grapes get bigger and fill out. Their next stop is veraison, when the berries begin to soften and color up. This is expected to begin in earnest by the first week of July, right on schedule.
“More than we expected” is the general feeling about crop set for this vintage as I visited with vineyard manager Lance Blakeley. With plenty of rain and a slight recovery from the drought period we have an average crop on the vine. There won’t be much thinning of bunches on estate vineyards-just a bit in our Sangiovese, for instance, where bunches are touching. If not addressed now it will lead to bunch rot as the season progresses.
Mother Clone Zinfandel, planted on the home ranch since the early 1900s and now is mostly a second generation vineyard, is showing average crop size which, for this hillside vineyard, is 3-4 tons per acre. Lance Blakeley, vineyard manager, noted the bunches are quite elongated on many of the head pruned vines, something you don't always see on our vines.
Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, planted a mile west of the winery since the 1990s, has set up what is considered an average crop with an expected 5-6 ton per acre. Why the difference in tonnage? Our Cabernet vineyard is planted on a different style of trellising than the head pruned Zinfandel and develops the arms of the vine straight out with more spurs for production. A toast to the season with either our Mother Clone Zinfandel or Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon in my Dino. It seems it's a toss up between the two.
Mother Clone Zinfandel with the iconic 'wing' on the right.
Mother Clone Zinfandel with elongated bunches we're seeing this season.
Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon crop set 2016. Note the berries have more room than the Zinfandel which is tightly packed.