What a curious growing season it has been to this point. I guess it really shouldn’t be a surpirse given that this year ends in “13”. Consistently cool and wet for the most part, but strangely no signs of disease pressure to speak of (knock on wood). Then we are blessed with a few weeks of ideal ripening conditions precisely when we need it at veraison. All varietals, save Cabernet Franc, are looking to be right on schedule.
The Cab Franc are likely lagging behind due to their prodigious uptake of water. The spring/summer rains have left our vines brimming with growth – even many lateral shoots are bearing clusters of fruit! The last couple of months have been spent paring back these layers of green growth in an effort to expose the vulnerable fruit. The Cab Franc vines put so much energy and resource into this shoot growth that the fruit will take longer to enter and complete the ripening process. It doesn’t help that our Cab Franc vines are relatively young and full of vim and vigour!
The task of thinning shoots and clusters has been very time consuming this season, but I can finally start to make out the post at the end of this long grape row. As I complete each row, my Dad follows behind to hang the protective bird netting. I must say that the sight of these nets brings me the ultimate in satisfaction. They represent the preservation of year’s worth of hard work and signify the end of my duties in that block until we harvest.
My mind can now shift to the preparation of tanks, barrels, crushers, presses and the like. It’s also the time to determine which yeasts and fermentation aids I will employ to best coax out the Terroir in my 2013 wines. The new supplier catalogues we receive each year put me in mind of the old Sears Christmas Wish Book I always looked so forward to as a child. My eyes light up as I flip through page after page of new “toys”, each seeming to promise more flavours and aromas than the next. I find it fascinating to think of the amount of research that has gone into refining the simple process of fermentation. We all have our “go to” yeasts that we swear by, but I’m usually tempted to try something new every year – even if it’s just in a single tank or barrel.
If I close my eyes I can almost smell those beautiful fermenting tanks already!