It’s that time of year! The Oregon Summer and subsequent slow down of growth in the vineyard has arrived and provides us a great opportunity to review our 2014 growing season.
If you rewind the calendar eight months you will find that the vineyard “sleeps” throughout December and January and so do we! The remaining months of our calendar fill with work throughout the vineyard and with activities surrounding our wine business. So when rare moments of downtime present themselves, we take them.
Looking back on February, the chilly month brought additional hands to the vineyard to prune each of our vines and remove all of the previous year’s growth with the exception of a single shoot. The remaining shoot then becomes the current year’s cane, from which more shoots and the grape clusters develop.
April 11th we witnessed bud break in our over-achieving Chardonnay blocks, followed by bud break in the Pinot noir blocks the week of April 17th. With the spring warm up, temperatures surpassed 50 degrees and previously dormant buds took off. The buds lengthened, the resulting shoots grew quickly and were followed by developing grape clusters.
The Willamette Valley experienced good rainfall in April and the warm weather in early May set the stage for rapid vine growth. The grapevines bloomed at Fairsing Vineyard in mid-June. Grapes are self-pollinators, containing both male and female parts so no bees, wind or butterflies are required to transfer the pollen. The tiny grape flowers release pollen directly onto the pistil – such independence!
The growth throughout the vineyard this summer has been fast and furious. Our work crews made three passes through the vineyard in a single month’s time – to position shoots, adjust trellis guide wires and to remove shoot suckers. We pulled leaves on the east side of the vines to allow sunlight to reach the grape clusters and thereby open up the canopy for air circulation. In early July, crews walked the vineyard with machetes and “hedged” the sides of the grapevines and reduced their top tendrils to trellis height. Tractor drivers appreciate the hedging; it keeps the vines out of their faces!
At Fairsing Vineyard we forecast harvest to occur in mid to late September but we have learned, Mother Nature makes the decisions. Our large and uniform grape clusters are thriving during this warm Oregon summer and are cooling nicely overnight.
Speaking of summer, our weather has been warm, even hot at times, and we look forward to beautifully ripe grapes at harvest. For now, we are heading back to lawn chairs and storing our energy for harvest 2014.
Mary Ann and Mike McNally