We are still waiting for veraison to start here in our Estate Vineyard. Veraison is when the grapes change color, and they transition into the final ripening stages. Both red and white grapes go through this transition, but the color change is much more dramatic in reds such as Pinot Noir. Red grape varietals will slowly change from green to red. This transition happens over the course of about fifteen days. Once completed we can project harvest to be approximately forty-five days away. This is the latest I’ve seen this transition take place.
Green Pinot Noir cluster waiting to turn red!
At this pace we are estimating harvest to start sometime at the very end of September and run into October. This could present some challenges if we have some early season rains or it could allow for some really extended hang time, which would make another very high-quality vintage here in the Russian River Valley. The last “late” harvests we experience here, were in 2018 and 2019 and they were both excellent! The next two months will be critical in shaping how 2023 plays out.
Typical morning fog over the Estate Vineyard in the Russian River Valley.
In the vineyard we’ve been busy with “leafing” or removing leaves from the area directly in front of the grape clusters. Our vines are orientated north/south so for us we remove the leaves on the “morning” side or the east side of the vines. This gives the morning sunlight a chance to dry out the dew that forms on the grapes overnight and is a natural way to prevent fungus growth. It also helps to push the grapes along in the ripening curve, which is important this year with the growing phase being behind. We don’t remove the leaves on the west or “afternoon” side because the shade they provide protects the grapes from excessive afternoon heat. This technique has been critical during late season heat waves in preventing sunburn.
The upper section is the “afternoon” side and the bottom section is the leafed or “morning” side
We also hedged the vineyard this past month. As the vine shoots grow and reach the top of the trellis wires, they begin to droop over into the vine rows. This prevents us from being able to drive the tractor through the vineyard, so it is important that we clear them out for access. What is even important is to balance the leaf surface area and grape clusters on the vines. When we remove the excess length of the growing shoots the vines will put more energy into ripening the grape clusters. It’s a critical management practice to balance the grape vine between fruit and vegetative growth.
In this picture you see a vine row before being hedged, the hedging machine and the end results- a neatly trimmed grape vine row!
On behalf of the entire team here at River Road Family Vineyards And Winery, we wish you all continued good health!