I don't know if you remember last year's epic mission with the netting of the vineyard, but I must say that compared to last year, this year has been a delight! Thanks to making all those mistakes last year and to my time netting the vineyard near Melbourne, we will probably finish netting the vineyard (including prep-work) in exactly one week! The extremely hot weather these past few weeks has pushed veraison up even further than it was last year. The early bud break and mild May meant that the grapes grew fast and happily. The next to last week of June, I saw my first Chambourcin start to turn color. I thought this must be a mistake. Is it a disease? or virus? But no, the grapevines were fine. They were just ready to turn a little early.
Thus, my family and employees jumped into gear. I didn't have to beg to have the vineyard sprayed or mowed one last time before netting, I didn't have to explain the need for netting, and all the employees were able to work extra long hours on sweltering afternoons.
We used an old basketball goal (courtesy of a Sundrop Promotional Toy cerca 1985) on the back of our ATV to feed the net up and over the rows. Most of the little cups we put over the posts last year to facilitate the snag-less dispersion of the nets were brittle and broken, so we just took them off. Turns out, the corners of our 2x4 supports aren't that bad. The nets slid right over. Plus, our canopy is much crazier than last year and that crazy canopy is helping to keep the nets away from the fruiting zone. We didn't get much of a chance to position our shoots, plus laterals never really broke and we decided after last year's sunburnt crop not to leaf pluck. We got a lot more shade this year, and hopefully better fruit. Killing multiple birds with one stone!
So I guess we're to the count down to harvest. I must get my affairs in order and make sure all the other crops are well prepared for my future lack of attention. I hope we don't get too much rain between now and then. I don't really know how we'd spray the vines with the nets on. This super early harvest might be a blessing in that we get to pick all the fruit before we put in the fall garden. I just hope I get all the paperwork and permits in time. I wasn't planning on needing the paperwork until the last week of August. We'll use the same basic vintage plan as last year for the majority of the Chambourcin, but I'll be trying some extended maceration batches and natural fermentations in the back of the grocery store just to see how it goes. I don't know if we'll have any white this year. Pierce's Disease has pretty much affected every single Vidal blanc vine we have. We'll probably be replanting the rest of the vineyard this upcoming winter and spring. It breaks my heart to see the little grapevines scorched and withered, but I know there's nothing I can do for them, so out they go. Onwards and upwards for a new variety of white which will hopefully make as good a wine as the Vidal made last year.
I still don't have a camera, so sorry for the lack of pictures. I got a disposable one (yep! they still exist!) so, when I got those photos developed, I'll put them up.