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Variety,Viticulture,Wine

One For You and a Couple for Me, Hopefully…

On July 31, 2009, when the blog was first posted, I wrote the following:

First, one for you… when I was working for Belvedere Winery, Hector Bedolla – the winery’s vineyard manager – would take me on vineyard tours. Hector’s very knowledgeable, and today is working for Jess Jackson, managing all of K-J’s vineyard properties. On one of our tours, he pointed out that the back of a Zinfandel leaf is a bit fuzzy, and is the only cultivar to have this feature. I’ve photographed one of my Zin leaves, so I could show you, too, above. It’s soft and a bit downy.

The next time you’re in a vineyard, check out the leaves. If you don’t know what the variety is in the vineyard, you might surprise yourself and find Zinfandel vines.

On October 10, 2009, Hector Bedolla updated this info. I’m including it in the body of this blog, because what I wrote above was taken out of context, and I don’t want any wrong info floating around out there.

Jo, regarding the quote, “and is the only cultivar to have this feature”, that may have been taken out of context. It was what, over 10 years ago, and the subject was probably an old Zin vineyard with mixed varietals. We managed 200 acres of Zin in Dry Creek Valley back then. Identifying the Zin by tomentum is easy to do. I think that the context of this statment was just that. The fuzz is different in different varieties, is found in different areas of the cane or leaf, and is present at different stages of the vines development, the shoot tip for example. Ampleography books you will read call it indument and woolly. Tomentum fuzz (hairiness) appearances are thorny, downy, felty like Pinot Muenier and cobwebby like Cabernet Sauv. Pinot Muenier is way hairy. There are some field selections of Zin that really don’t have much fuzz at all and it’s only found in tufts at the petiolar sinus.

Vines are pretty cool things. You’ll find so much variation of leaf shape for example, on one vine. Young leaves looking totally different shaded vs exposed to sun vs older vs water stressed. It’s all good. Thanks Jo for your great blog. Talk to you soon. H

Morton Leslie also weighed in (I’m bring into the body of this posting, because not everyone reads the comments, and these two wine industry heavy weights have great educational contributions. I also just found Morton’s comment.)

The fuzz is called tomentum. Zin isn’t the only cultivar to have it. If your vine is from a seed then it doesn’t have a name since it is a cross between varieties.

Next… A couple of vit questions that I have. (If I don’t get an answer here, I’ll be bringing these images with me to the PS Symposium next week, because I’m going to have plenty of viticulturists to help, but I’m thinking that I may get my answers quicker, and I can just leave this behind as DONE.)

What’s going on with my Zin vines? After the tremendous heat spell we had, I went out to find this going on.

Is this leaf roll?

Or… Is it possible, with the really over the top heat we had a couple of weeks ago, for leaves to just start shriveling on the stem this way? I’ve got the weirdest thing going on with my few Zin vines, and I’ve never seen anything like it. The leaves are hardy, but they’ve seemed to have shrunk, and have really dried out edges… Yet, some of the other canes, leaves, and tendrils are just fine. Does anyone in viticulture know what this is?

Finally, this is a volunteer grape vine, probably planted by some visiting bird to my back yard. Based on the leaf and cluster, any idea with this white variety is? I’ve never been able to get to the grapes fast enough; because as nature would have it, the same way it was planted is the same way it leaves my yard… By birds enjoying the fruits of their labors.

I don’t water this plant, which explains the berry variation in size, for anyone who doesn’t get close to vineyards on a regular basis. The vine’s just  wound itself around the limbs of a fir tree, and this year it’s dipping down far enough for me to get close enough to get these images. Someone with a viticulture background might be able to recognize the leaf and cluster characteristics.

Anyone?

8 Responses to “One For You and a Couple for Me, Hopefully…”

  1. Morton Leslie says:

    The fuzz is called tomentum. Zin isn’t the only cultivar to have it. If your vine is from a seed then it doesn’t have a name since it is a cross between varieties.

  2. Hector Bedolla says:

    Jo, regarding the quote, “and is the only cultivar to have this feature”, that may have been taken out of context. It was what, over 10 years ago, and the subject was probably an old Zin vineyard with mixed varietals. We managed 200 acres of Zin in Dry Creek Valley back then. Identifying the Zin by tomentum is easy to do. I think that the context of this statment was just that. The fuzz is different in different varieties, is found in different areas of the cane or leaf, and is present at different stages of the vines development, the shoot tip for example. Ampleography books you will read call it indument and woolly. Tomentum fuzz (hairiness) appearances are thorny, downy, felty like Pinot Muenier and cobwebby like Cabernet Sauv. Pinot Muenier is way hairy. There are some field selections of Zin that really don’t have much fuzz at all and it’s only found in tufts at the petiolar sinus.

    Vines are pretty cool things. You’ll find so much variation of leaf shape for example, on one vine. Young leaves looking totally different shaded vs exposed to sun vs older vs water stressed. It’s all good. Thanks Jo for your great blog. Talk to you soon. H

  3. Hector Bedolla says:

    Jo, we have several crews harvesting Chardonnay tonight, stopped in to the office to read your blog. I heard third hand that I might have been misquoted in your blog and I hope that reply helps educate your readers. I enjoyed reading your articles. Keep up the great work. H

  4. Jo says:

    Morton,

    Thanks for commenting. I just found your comment, because Hector also commented, and it drew me back to this posting. (Sorry I missed it in the first place. Not sure why I didn’t see it, because I do get to see all comments. That was the day of my PS Symposium, and was really preoccupied, then collapsed after, for about a week… as all organizers do after pulling off a major event. That’s my only excuse.)

    I have a question for you regarding this sentence, “If your vine is from a seed then it doesn’t have a name since it is a cross between varieties.” I’m not completely understanding it.

    I just assumed that whatever a bird had delivered to me in my back yard was from the process of a bird eating wine grapes and delivering as undigested (it in its excrement) into my back yard.

    Is that not the case?

    And, if it is the case, wouldn’t it just be from a cultivar that the bird ate in a nearby vineyard, so it would be a specific variety?

    Thanks for your help with this.

  5. Morton Leslie says:

    Seed-grown grapes often don’t resemble the parents because a cultivar like Zin has been reproduced for a long time asexually through cuttings. All Zins have the same genetics passed along by cloning. The product of sexual reproduction…a seed is something different. In your case, my guess is that your grape is Phuzzee diaz.

  6. Jo says:

    Interesting.

    Thanks for clarifying.

    And so it shall be… Phuzzee Dee(az)

  7. Hector Bedolla says:

    Jo, the small leaf in the forefront that looks long and triangular is
    affected by herbicide. Its mis-shapen and is not normal. It could also have been damaged by frost. That is why it looks so different. As Leslie was saying, vines that come from seeds don’t always show the classic varietal characteristic because most likely they were pollinated by other varietals. May and June air in wine country has so much vine pollen that it is likely that a neighbors vine pollinated the flower that gave you your vine. Insects fly around and do the same but to a lesser extent. Vines aren’t always self pollinators. I have vines in my yard that grew up from remnants of years of home winemaking and the resulting composted grape pommace. They don’t always look true to the varietal. That’s another cool thing about vines. Got to go and tarp the BBQ. H

  8. Jo says:

    Hector,

    The leaf is on one of my Zinfandel plants, and it probably was frost, although I didn’t think of it at the time. The zin plants might have even been given to me by you! They bear a lot of fruit each year, now, because they’re older. The volunteer is in another place in my yard, and just popped up one year, about six years later, it’s got this funky fruit, not irrigation, and does interesting things, climbing and hanging from a fir tree. It’s just fun to watch, and the birds clean it as soon as the fruit’s ripe.

    Best to Juanita!

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