season.jpgThe vineyard year starts in late March with pruning. Canes are dropped to the vineyard floor where they will later be ground up by the mowing machine. Pruning is finished a week or two before bud break.

When the new shoots are several inches long, wetable sulfur is sprayed on the vines to halt the growth of powdery mildew. Depending on the weather, sulfur applications continue every two weeks until veraison, which occurs in late July or early August.

In late April, the vineyard is mowed with an offset mower that mows under the trellis system to within inches of the vine trunks greatly simplifying weed control. The heavy mulch resulting from the mowing is left between the rows to discourage summer weeds. A second mowing in May or June is usually necessary.

Sometime in late May or early June, all water shoots and suckers are removed. Any new shoots that have appeared in addition to the two or three chosen ones at each spur are removed as well. This allows the vine to put its energy into the selected buds and the corresponding fruit. The other benefit from this seemingly endless task is to open up the early canopy and allow sunlight to strike the new shoots and assure a good crop for the following year.

During May and June the new canes need to be guided into the double wire trellis system; first at 15 inches above the fruiting wire and then at the top wires a full six feet off the ground. A windy spring means several trips through the vineyard.

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Leaf thinning commences in June. The cordons on the east or morning side have up to half of their leaves in the fruiting zone removed. The west side cordons considerably less depending on their location in the vineyard. This can be a tricky job as excessive leaf thinning can lead to sunburned fruit.

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Irrigation is usually begun in May or June depending on the soil moisture. Close attention is paid to the vines to make sure they receive enough but not too much water. The emitters deliver one gallon per hour to each vine. Watering is done at night to minimize evaporation loss.

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In September, the sugar is checked and when the brix is around 24, the grapes are harvested.

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Two members of the picking crew remove leaves from a gondola full of grapes.

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20 tons of Merlot loaded for the short drive to the winery.