S1 EP0010 - In the Vineyard

Our Bi-Weekly Look at the 2021 Vintage in the Finger Lakes Wine Industry, As It Unfolds - Grape Bloom is Almost Here


Season 1, Episode 0010

Finger Lakes Viticulture – June 10, 2021

There is no denying it, the growing season is going strong so far.  With warm temperatures, and adequate, but not excessive precipitation, I’m feeling good about 2021.

I’m also feeling great about this podcast, and the many projects going on at our winery.  We are gaining hundreds of new listeners, without any real advertisement so far.  Word of mouth seems to be spreading, and I am receiving some great feedback.  As a reminder, the best way to help the show grow is to rate the show with 5 stars in Apple podcasts, and like our YouTube broadcast videos - and tell a friend.  At Missick Cellars (www.MissickCellars.com), I’m proud to announce that we have now opened the Art Gallery at our Dundee location.  The ethos of this show, of sharing stories from others, of expanding our world view in terms of art, philosophy, entrepreneurship, and music, and of working diligently so that we can live our best life, have come into fruition in my own business.  In pairing up with Pittsford Fine Art (https://www.pittsfordfineart.com/) in Pittsford, New York, we have been able to work with an artist owned co-op art gallery, of regionally and nationally recognized fine art artists, to elevate the experience we offer at the winery, and promote the idea of cultivating our own lives around the beauty that we get to experience in this world every day.  I’m grateful to Pittsford Fina Arts, and incredibly proud to share the artwork of these really talented individuals.  If you are interested, you can take a look at a video we released taking you through the new gallery, that link can be found right here, and is on the YouTube channel for the winery.

As far as vineyard development, as of June 8, we currently stand at 507.6 growing degree days.  As of June 8, in 2020 were at 429.4, in 2019 we were at 404.6, and in a warm vintage like 2016, we were at 438.  We are lagging behind 2018, which had seen a growing degree day accumulation of 568, but we have not seen the level of precipitation that we saw in 2018 - at least not yet, fingers crossed.

Many of the native grapes, grape like Concord which we don’t make wine from but grow for jelly and eating, have  gone or are going through bloom. Our vinifera blocks of Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Riesling, are poised for bloom, with cane and canopy growth going strong.  It is at this point most growers will apply a pre-bloom spray regimen in their vineyards.  This is an important time to spray for some common vineyard problems, such as powdery mildew, downy mildew, and black rot.  The sprays made immediately pre-bloom, and until about a month after bloom, are crucial in our efforts to ensure sound and strong fruit, and  a quality crop for the year.  Fungicides are crucial in this period, making the next month one of the key “make it or break it” periods of the growing season.  

Pre-bloom nutrient sprays may be important as well.  Although the physiology between grapes and tomatoes may seem quite different, this is a common time of year to make sure all of our tomatoes have an adequate supply of calcium to ensure problems like blossom end rot do not plague us in the next few months.  Grapes and grape vines also need adequate nutrition, and so depending on where you are located, and the specifics of your site, this may be a consideration for your vineyard as well.

I do love this time of year.  Daisy’s fill the middle rows with large bouquets of white and yellow.  The birds chorus and the rustling of the leaves provide nature’s symphony in the vineyard.  The time for rest has clearly past, the time for diligence and hard work is here and urgent.

In the coming week, we are anticipating slightly cooler temperatures, with highs in the 70’s.  So far though, this has been a great spring.  The precipitation of May and June so far has been scattered.  Only a few thunderstorms have dropped significant rains, most of the time it has been short and gentle showers.  I did have some concern over the high temperatures and amount of rain the last few days.  With that, came higher dewpoints and humidity, which can promote the spread of disease.  With the moderating temperatures, and moderate rains in the forecast however, the year is starting to show promise.  

Be sure to tune in next week, where I speak with Auyon Mukharji, one of the talented signers and violinist in the outstanding indie music outfit, Darlingside.  Darlingside, with its amazing vocal harmonies, literary lyrics, and sweeping instrumentation, capture the modern sound of philosophy embodied in music.  Their sound is often the soundtrack to my cellar work, and their music my accompaniment to winemaking.  Their music offers me a sense of the elevated, the inspirational, and it inspires my work in many ways.