VIT 101: With a cooling trend after a warm spell (like we’re having right now in Russian River Valley), vineyard activity slows. So, if the season came early (as it did), and grape farmers might have thought that perhaps they’d have an early harvest, things just slowed back down a bit.

This is how each season goes with grape growers. Each day’s weather is an adventure and it’s duly noted. When he was alive, old Lou Foppiano of Foppiano Vineyards had a large desk calendar. I’d pop into his office and he would have marked the day’s weather, first thing in the morning. It was his “annual grape growing diary.”

Louis M Foppiano or Susan Foppiano-Valera have memories of this time, I know? You both watched your dad do this religiously.

The cool weather is slowing down my front door, welcome grapes. I need to cut back some leaves, too. This will allow a bit of sunshine onto these grapes, and get them back on track.

Marty Johnson of Ruby-Magdalena-Vineyards (Co-Owner and Co-Founder), and was the winemaker/cellar master at Eaton Hill Winery.

Now, now Jo, let Dame Nature keep her own “track”. You may trim leaves for air circulation and phenolic (flavor) maturation, but let’s not try to improve too much on nature’s timetable. She’s been at this a h*ll of long time, and seems to adjust throughout the season. Ride the ship, steer the course, but let the current set the pace. (Just my humble vineyard philosophy.) What variety are your “Welcome” grapes? They look like happy little campers!

Jo Diaz:

Funny, Marty. I have to do some cutting back, because the vines are so long they’re trying to come in the front door. This is a red grape variety, but I have no clue which one. It was planted by a bird, and we’ve just been enjoying the landscaping.

Marty Johnson:

…and here i assumed you would welcome nature into your home. I guess ya gotta draw the line somewhere. Ours is drawn at flying insects. It’s a very wavy line!

Dan Kleck of Silver Stone Wine Gallery

This cluster’s development shows exactly what happens when a cooling trend follows a warm spell at bloom time in a vineyard: poor set, or as the French say, coulure. Many of the potential berries, especially at the bottom of this cluster, will drop off due to the fact that their fertilization was interrupted or incomplete. Grapes need warm, steady weather at bloom to create a full cluster of fruit. This type of problem causes reduced yields, and uneven bloom weather can also cause variations in individual berry ripeness within the cluster. So, some berries will ripen early, while others may be held back, making it very difficult to decide when to harvest; do you wait for all the berries to fully ripen?(which means you’ll have some raisining), or do you pick when most berries are ripe, while some are not (leading to vegetal flavors in the wine). Nice pic, Jo…might be nice to see how this very cluster develops over the course of the season.

Jo Diaz:

Great observations, Dan. I’ll keep showing this one through the season. This is how VIT 101 was born, by sharing this teeny tiny cluster. And, you’re right. It has a lot more going for it when it started.