Thursday, June 7, 2012

View from Spring Mountain Vineyard by Ron Rosenbrand, Vineyard Manager

May 2012 Vineyard Update After a very wet and cold March and April, May was beautifully warm to hot. Day time temperatures were mostly in the 80’s and 90’s. We only had one rainy day with only 0.25 inches of rain. This brought the season total to 37.30 inches. This is some 9 inches below normal for the season, but we are in good shape for irrigation water for this year. The warm temperatures pushed vine growth along tremendously. Bloom started two and a half weeks earlier than last year and the year before. The entire bloom process went from start to finish in about 12 days. We are checking fruit set currently and should have a good feel for the degree of success soon. Early indications are quite positive. This earlier bloom puts us on a much more normal pace. If the summer temperatures are fairly normal, harvest times should do the same and we could expect to complete harvest by the end of October. How nice would that be for a change?
Another very noticeable thing in the vineyard is the increase in the number of clusters on the vines this year. We expected an increase in the trellis-converted blocks, but we are also seeing increases in Vertical Gobelet blocks. As always, as long as the weather doesn’t create a major problem, total tonnage this year should be up from the past 4 years.

May has been a very busy month out in the vineyard as is the case every year. But when you have warm weather it pushes us along even faster. During the month, we completed all the suckering and have been very busy mowing down cover crop, undertaking mildew control, tying and training of the vertical gobelet vines, shoot tucking and positioning in the vertical-shoot-positioned trellising, field-grafting some 7000 vines to Malbec, Chardonnay and converting clones in Pinot Noir. The warm weather has helped those grafts take successfully and they are currently taking off. Soon, we’ll start working on leaf removal to get some sunlight on those developing clusters and help get them acclimated to direct sun exposure before the real summer heat begins.
We have begun our insect releases for various vineyard pests including releasing lady bugs for leaf hoppers. The bluebirds have once again taken over the bird houses along with the swallows. There are many, many babies out there which have a tremendous appetite. We have a researcher from UC Berkeley working with the bluebirds. She is doing extensive studies on insect populations and the blue bird’s diet. We will have some great information when she completes this 12 week study. We also have another group of researchers from UC Berkeley studying three different flowering cover crops and the beneficial insects that are attracted to these flowers. This study is in the second of three years. They are also studying bat populations, the species of bats that we have here at SMV and their diet. Interesting stuff. We’ll keep you updated on the results.

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