Steady as she grows…

Since our last post, the first blushes of veraison have now begun to cast its hue upon select areas of our vineyard.  Currently, and for the last several weeks, our vineyard team have been fruit thinning.  The warm dry conditions over November-December were favourable for flowering and so led to a high rate of pollination, giving our canopy a healthy crop.  We are now reducing that yield to not only increase quality, but to also balance the fruit load to the canopy so as to give optimal opportunity to ripen by (around) April.  Fruit thinning before veraison serves the vines resources better as they don’t then waste energy ripening fruit that is going to be dropped anyway.

Our team have done a great job of keeping ahead of the building wave of varietal colour and therefore helps the vines by lowering vine stress and increasing potential leaf retention for next 8 weeks plus of ripening.

fruitthinning2013

Some the Vineyard Team in action, thinning out the Pinot Gris. When asked what the key phrase was here, the reply was “there’s heaps!”

VeraisonWINNER

Veraison now underway in our 95 block Pinot Noir.

The canopy itself bears mentioning as its greenery bears a stark contrast to the parched landscape that not only surrounds us, but also runs its drying fingers throughout our vineyard’s inter rows.  Check out this video to see what we’re on about.

Looking at that footage, we have to stretch to recall the record breaking rainfall back in 2011 and the accompanying good winter rains of 2012, but if we needed a reminder, it is here now in the evidence of the canopy.  But this alone still would not have been enough, it goes much deeper than that.  Great soil health continues to increase due to the now 7 year absence of herbicides, effectively timed fertigation, successive years of balanced pruning, an alert team and responsive management have all weaved together to manifest into the canopy we see today.  Nothing good comes easy!

DRIPPER2

Every drop is precious!

But the challenge to keep this canopy has only just begun.  Looking at the 3 month rainfall (Feb-Apr) outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology, there is a 75% chance of exceeding 50 to 100 mm for that period (in our area).  Our long term average rainfall figures for the same period is 144 mm, but with current drying trend, that figure seems unlikely.   On the other hand cooler days and nights are also predicted, and if this is true, it will take some evaporative pressure off the vineyard.  But maintaining the health of the canopy is one thing, the next is protecting the fruit!  Due to the extremely dry conditions, bird pressure has started early this year, so our bird radar system is now in effect as well as the usual myriad of avian counter measures.

IMG_0087

Vineyard Manager Lisa and team member Ron, fire up the bird radar towers, in preparation for the potential avian invasion!

LisaHareProof

Lisa makes the securing ropes for the radar ‘Hare Proof’, as they like to chew the ropes which can bring down the radar system!

In the meantime we are beyond motivated to do all we can to bring in one of, if not the best vintage to date… but as always only time will tell and there’s still plenty of that until harvest. So while the dry spell looks set to continue, there’s (at least) two things to remember about weather; you never know what will happen & careful what you wish for!