Saturday, June 26, 2010

Uncle! We Give Up: Water Please!

I've been sponsoring a contest among the vines to see who can go the longest without water. The first to cave in were the top three rows of Tempranillo, located amongst the rocks with little to no soil (and shallow root depth). I gave them a drink of water a week ago, and seconds today. Also today the Zinfandel cried "uncle" giving up the contest for a 2-hour drink, their first watering of the season. (Most of the Zinfandel are located on a cliff without soil.) My objective is to be parsimonious with the water (we're still in a drought situation), without damaging the vines (still young, only in their "fourth leaf"). I expect the lower Petit Sirah and the lower Tempranillo vines to win this content, but the Aglianico and the Grenache are still hanging in. Will revisit them the July 4th weekend to see how they're doing. I'm looking closely at the top tendrils to see what direction they're pointing (are they drooping?) and their condition(are they dry?); also looking closely at the leaves. The photo above shows the Tempranillo vines; notice the fading color of the older leaves near the cordon. Many of the tendrils (photo at left) are beginning to droop a bit. The picture below shows a row of the Zinfandel. We could be two months plus two weeks away from harvest. On my mind are ordering nets (to keep the birds from the grapes -- the nets we used last year had too many holes); ordering glass to prepare for bottling some of the 2009 wines this fall (or, in lieu of bottling, more barrels or flex tanks); and finalizing blends of the 2009 wines. I'm going to ask you (the readers of the blog) and friends of the winery to help us finalize the blends.


Gerry M. said...

Hi Craig, one of the tricks to find out how stressed the vines are is ....[check the] leaf temperature about 3 leaves from the top and plus minus 30 minutes from 1:00 pm with full sun on the leaf .... measure the feeling between your palms; the palms are very sensitive you will be very surprised. If they feel a bit cool they are OK. If warm or hot they are stressed and are not taking water up from the bottom. I do this a lot. It is easy to do. The maxim stress time is full sun, (no shade) at 1:pm +- 30 minutes. Good luck.

Vinogirl said...

Craig, just had a good read catching up with your blog.
We started our watering programme about 2 weeks ago in Vinoland. We had so much spring rain, and cool temps, that the vines are doing fine.
Tendril length can be an indicator of water stress, however by the time the tendrils are no longer growing longer than the shoot tip (apical meristem), you are already approx. 2 weeks into a deficit situation.