I got back this week from two weeks on the east coast, and the vineyard had grown so much in my time away that it was barely recognizable. The weather so far in June has been ideal: lots of days in the 80s, a few in the low 90s but nothing hotter, cool but not cold nights, and lots and lots of sun. Just what the doctor ordered after a cold spring that delayed sprouting two to three weeks depending on varietal. A photo of a head-pruned Tannat block, with Roussanne behind (neither typically exuberant varietals) will give you a sense of how explosive the growth has been:
The main work in the vineyard now is shoot and cluster thinning, to make sure that the vines don't get so bushy that their interiors become havens for mildew or pests, and that they don't set such a heavy crop that quality suffers. We've had to thin varieties like Mourvedre and Roussanne this year for the first time since 2006. Two photos will show the results of the manicuring: neat rows with out too much overhanging foliage, with clusters exposed to light and air (Grenache, on left, and Grenache Blanc, on right):
With flowering done a few weeks back, the berries are growing, but still small, hard and green. They'll grow larger, but stay hard and sour, for the next two months, before they sweeten rapidly after their August veraison. A Roussanne vine with clusters is below:
The fruit set looks good, even in difficult varieties like the Roussanne. Even the vines that we relocated from the construction area are doing well. We figure 80% of them or more will survive their move. You can see a few of the relocated vines along with with fruit trees and squash plants from our staff garden, in their new home behind our straw-bale tractor barn.
The section we planted at the western edge of the property in the winter of 2007-2008 is flourishing, and we expect to get our first (small) crop off this block this year. We're hoping for 1 ton per acre from these third-leaf vines. Looking east from the western edge of the planting over the bulk of Tablas Creek Vineyard:
In addition to the work we're doing in our existing vineyard we are also getting a new vineyard section staked out, which we'll use for some of the new clones (like Terret Noir and Bourboulenc) that we're getting for the first time this year.
Finally, I leave you with one shot showing the deep green vines (Grenache, in this case) against the beautiful blue summer sky:
Anyone who would like to see some additional photos can do so on the Tablas Creek Facebook page.