S1 EP0012 - In the Vineyard

Fruit set has begun, and the vineyards are looking wonderful.


Well, 2021 continues to provide us with warm weather, adequate rainfall, and beautiful days.  After a severe thunderstorm that moved through the region on Monday, June 21, bringing with it heavy winds and pouring rain, we experienced a burst of cool temperatures.  With a high of only 66 degrees yesterday, our warming pattern returns, with highs in the 80’s today, and an expectation of 90 by Friday.  Our growing degree days are moving ahead as well, with a total of 756 as of June 22.  To put that in context, for the same date in 2020, we were at 722.  In 2019, we had only clocked 619, and in the warm dry vintage of 2016, we were also at 722.  We are skewing slightly warmer than usual, and so far, the vineyards are looking great.

Since our last vineyard update two weeks ago, everything in our vineyard and in all the vineyards I’ve seen, has moved quickly through bloom, and fruit is beginning to set.  Bloom is a precarious time.  Grape flowers do not need to be pollinated to produce fruit, and so we aren’t worried specifically about pollination, but we do hold our breath a little bit during that period because any extreme weather events can create a situation that damages the tender flowers, and may potentially impact fruit set.  Things like hail, extreme downpours and heavy winds didn’t cause us any problems this year. 

We are now in the first stage of berry development.  This is the period we refer to as fruit set, and is a period of about two months, where cell division is extremely active as the berry grows in size.  It is during this period that the berries are accumulating their crucial acids such as tartaric and malic acid, and other important physiological components such as tannins.  Over the next several months, we’ll monitor the berry size development through fruit set, lag phase, and veraison.  

Everything in our vineyard is moving along wonderfully.  The Chenin Blanc in particular look exceptionally strong this year.  As far as pests and diseases, powdery mildew is rearing its head in the region, but that has been tamped down with the appropriate sprays.  Leaf hoppers are also looking to make their presence known, and so we will be keeping an eye on that.  Although it’s not grape related, the region is suffering through one of the worst infestations of gypsy moth caterpillars this year.  The destruction in some locations around the Finger Lakes is awful.  They prefer to feed on oak leaves, and in far too many instances, have left many oak trees nearly bare.  I keep a small home orchard at my house, and it has taken alot of effort to keep my apple, pear and peach trees free of these terrible critters.  

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 Bob Madill, a longtime leader in the Finger Lakes Wine industry, and a friend of mine.  Bob cut his teeth in the wine industry in Ontario Canada, and was a founding member of Sheldrake Point Winery in the late 1990’s.  His perspective on the world of wine is global in scope, and his contributions to increasing the professionalism and quality of Finger Lakes wines and wineries, is a fine legacy.