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Vintage 2020: the winemaker’s notes on the growing season to date

by Robin Black | Published July 29, 2020

2020 has been a pretty different weather year in the vineyard!

We had no measurable rainfall in the month of February for the first time in recorded history.  In addition, we had record warmth which encouraged an early start to the growing season.  So we started watering in the vineyard a bit earlier this year to ensure the health of our vines (when we have consistent temperatures over 90 degrees we increase the watering by a few hours a week to prevent heat stress in the vines).

We pre-pruned the vineyard on February 10th and pruned each vine by hand on February 26th.

As the vines began to grow we trained the shoots up into the vertical trellis, disced the rows to incorporate the cover crop and we began shoot thinning and leaf pulling to open up the canopy to expose the clusters to sun on the north side of the vine and protect the clusters on the south side of the vine.

Once we have fruit set in the vineyard, we go through and drop one-third (or sometimes more) of all the clusters. This makes for healthier vines and higher-quality winegrapes.

Verasion in the vineyard started mid-July.  “During this time, grape berries experience dramatic physical and chemical changes as they transition from hard, green, acidic, and unpalatable to soft, pigmented, sweet, and flavorful. “

While July’s daytime temperatures have been a bit above normal, when the interior temperatures in California warm up significantly, it strengthens the Delta Breeze in the afternoon cooling us down even more in the evenings.

Projected harvest begins mid-August with our Viognier.