Vine growth has continued at slow to moderate pace with the cooler than normal weather and fairly frequent storms over the last 30 days. Both of these are nothing for us growers to worry about as we have needed the rainfall and with a week of warm weather the vines will easily get caught up.
The shoots in varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir range from 3 to 12 inches of growth and we can see the developing clusters emerging and separating at this stage. Cluster numbers look to be average or slightly better and we will be able to get our first yield estimate in the coming weeks. Unknown to us now through bloom and berry set is how many berries each cluster will have and how large they will be. Bloom-time weather in the Santa Maria Valley is generally good for good berry set (little shatter) so that is unlikely a problem for us. With the above normal rains we have had thus far and because we have had a good amount already in April there is a good possibility for larger than average berry size this year.
Already we can talk fruit quality when we look at weather and the possibility for larger berries. Generally, we like small berries which increases the skin to juice ratio in the fruit and therefore increases the phenolics of the juice and wine potential. Time will tell.
I hope you enjoyed this walk “in the vineyard.” Please send any comments or questions to me and I will respond as quickly as possible.
Jim Stollberg manages vineyards for Maverick Farming Company in the Santa Maria Valley. He can be reached at (805)310-9322 or firstname.lastname@example.org.