S1 EP0008 - In the Vineyard
Our Bi-Weekly Look at the 2021 Vintage in the Finger Lakes Wine Industry, As It Unfolds - Grape Flower Cluster Formation
Season 1, Episode 0008
Finger Lakes Viticulture – May 26, 2021
It has been an incredible stretch of warm, and even hot sunny weather in the Finger Lakes since our last update two weeks ago. As of today, we stand at 300.3 accumulated growing degree days. Nine of the last thirteen days have seen highs above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and five of those nine above 80. It’s been sunny and hot beautiful weather, but it is the Finger Lakes, and we are already looking at a weather change, with the high this upcoming Friday pegged at around 48 degrees, warming to a more moderate trend of high 60’s and 70’s. Let’s take a look and compare our current growing degree days to previous years. In 2020, at this same date, we stood at 212.8, in 2018, we stood at 347, in 2014, we were at 309, and in 2016, we were at 190. These years experienced some significant variation, and a lot of those vintages were dependent upon the amount of water and sun the vineyards received. 2018 was terribly difficult with warm weather and a lot of moisture, whereas 2016 stood in stark contrast as a severe drought year with warm temperatures. Nonetheless, it’s great to see our growing season on track.
In the vineyard, we are in the midst of the vegetative growth cycle. The buds have fully burst, shoot development has taken place, we have witnessed flat leaf stage, and the flower clusters have fully initiated. As you can see from the footage, beautiful flower clusters are branching our from the young tender canes, and the 2021 vintage fruit is about to start its formation. The clusters represent many small flowers. Grapes, like all fruit, go through a flowering stage prior to fruit formation. Each flower on each cluster has what we call a cap, and so our next benchmark will be to look for cap fall, and the start of bloom.
This chart from Michigan State University, nicely depicts the stages of the vegetative cycle of grape vine growth. As shoots climb ten to sixteen inches, the flower clusters are clearly visible, and the stage is set for the vegetative cycle to end, and the reproductive cycle to begin.
By the time of our next update, we will likely have seen cap fall and maybe even bloom. We’ll be sure to document it along the way, and show you exactly what it looks like.
This time of year, the vineyard growth moves quickly. From bare canes to an emerging lush canopy, it’s amazing how quickly the days go by and the vineyard bursts forth. It reminds me of how quickly we let our lives pass, and how important it is, despite the pace of growth and change, to take time and reflect on the wonder of it all. Ironically, the speed of the growth in the vineyard, forces me to pause and slow down. The lessons of the vineyard never cease, and viticulture has so many subtle ways to teach us how to live a good life.
If you like this podcast, please be sure to rate us 5 stars in Apple podcasts and like our videos on YouTube. It really helps with the ratings and in introducing new folks to the show. Be sure to tune in next week, where I speak with Liz Stamp, a partner with Lakewood Vineyards. With the third generation now deeply involved on this fourth generation farm, Liz’ perspective on this incredible family brand and business takes us through the early days of Finger Lakes grape growing, and launching a wine business on Seneca Lake in the 1980’s. A story of family, determination, and working towards a sustainable future, Lakewood Vineyards is a must visit for your Finger Lakes wine expedition.