Sunday, August 12, 2012

Merlot Mike's August 12 Merlot Report

Alas, it's that time of year when Merlot Mike and Nancy, his better half, update us with their vineyard report. Below, his most recent post. CJ.

Escondido Sunrise Vineyard
The Great Grape Update
August 12, 2012

In case you aren’t from around here, you may not have noticed that it’s been very hot the last week.  As I write, the irrigation is dripping furiously in the vineyard countering some of the effects of the heat. 

The vineyard is now 12 years old.  Supposedly, the roots grow a foot deeper each year.  I have been encouraging Nancy to select a vine and dig a 12 foot deep hole to confirm this but so far, she hasn’t seen the benefit of obtaining this knowledge.

The depth of the roots influence how long and how frequently we water.  Early on, we watered longer than necessary to simply feed the roots when they were close to the surface.  By deep watering, we encouraged deeper growth.  Deeper growth = less irrigation eventually = the vines having a better chance of survival in the event of a drought.  You’d think Nancy would want to know how this has all worked out.

As we turned on the water, we walked up and down in each of the three sections of our vineyard, selecting grapes for testing their ripeness.  We need to do this to have a gauge of how the grapes are maturing and to begin to accumulate data enabling us to determine when the grapes have hit that sweet point of ripeness and maturity.  (More on this next update.)

The frequency of irrigation, the weather condition, and the ever changing mood of Mother nature all act together to determine when the grapes hit that perfect time to harvest.  But, before we achieve a grape’s version of juicy nirvana, we have to contend with the birds & the bees.  (“Real” birds & bees.) 

This past week, we went through the vineyard and cut back the vines growing up and over the trellis  …  cutting off the long vines that would interfere with our spreading nets over the vines.  The nets are intended to keep the birds from enjoying a grape smorgasbord before the fruit has achieved that perfect state of ripeness.  And, Fidel, our trusty vineyard manager, hung out bee traps  …  plastic bags filled with pancake syrup hanging off the trellis  …  each bag featuring a one-way entrance allowing bee after bee to find his way to a sticky ever after.

Next week, we will spread the nets over the vines  …  all by hand  …  covering 2.5 miles of vines  …  using bread ties to attach the netting around the bottom of the vines.  Once done, the vines resemble long rows of green haired women draped in hair nets  …  still beautiful but best left to appreciate once their hair nets have been removed, their make up applied, and all of those little purple dresses indicate that their time to be squeezed is upon us.

Please expect another update from us in the next week.   We hope to predict our harvest date with our next update.

Mike and Nancy

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