Sunday, August 7, 2011

Stuff Wine Lover's Dreams Are Made Of

I'm talking about grapes, of course. Vitus vinifera, the noble wine grape. Those of you who tuned in to the unfolding saga during our first growing season and vintage last year, are wondering how the vineyard is doing at this stage. You will remember my disastrous battle with the dreaded powdery mildew known to Italian winemakers as oidio. You will remember how we threw 80 to 90 percent of our grapes to the ground, rotten with blight, yet still managed to make some wine. Wine that is turning out to be better than I expected.

This year, there is oidio again. Turns out it is to be expected here in the micro-climate nooks and crannies where grapes grow best, places like our vineyard which has a perfect southern hillside exposure but is pinched between woods that cause the sun to hit it a bit late in the morning. The weather was strange in July, cooler than usual, but humid, which doesn't help. There is good news, however, we have only dropped about 20-30 percent of the crop so far, just about what I'd want to cull to increase the quality of the bunches on the heavy bearing vines anyway. Even better news is, veraison has begun and the grapes are turning red. This is good because the change in grape chemistry at this stage tends to keep the oidio away. I have sprayed the vineyard with copper sulfate (approved organic) for the last time this season. Unfortunately, about 30 minutes after I finished spraying, a thunderstorm drenched the vines. Apparently, enough of that spray stuck and is doing it's job. The grapes are looking good. The weather has improved. Sunny and dry. Cool nights. We have about a month to go. And for now, as the ancient Romans used to say, it's in the laps of the gods.