Aftermath of more rain

October 13, 2011



As you may recall, we had some rain about a week and a half ago that slowed down the ripening process. It looked like we came out of it alright (no significant botrytis, no cracking), but then at the beginning of this week we saw another few days of rain and muggy, cloudy weather that set us worrying again.

The rain we got this week wouldn’t have been too much of an issue if it hadn’t been on the heels of another storm that had already soaked the ground. This ends up providing too much water to the vines, and when the vines take up too much water it can dilute the sugar in the fruit. Too much water uptake can also lead to cracking in the berries (the skins split as the berries swell up), which in turn can lead to botrytis.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much we could do until the rain stopped. Once the rain did stop, the weather turned quite warm and slightly breezy, which has been a great help in drying out the clusters and slowing down the development of botrytis.

Happily enough, we haven’t seen much of a problem so far. The sugars dropped a little bit in the estate Cabernet Sauvignon, but there isn’t any cracking or rot, so it should recover to the point where we are ready to pick it sometime next week.

There was tiny bit of cracking in the Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Grenache, but it was a small enough amount that we can field sort it before it comes into the winery and still attain the quality that we’re looking for. This means that we may get slightly smaller amounts of these varieties than we had hoped for this year, but sadly that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

The biggest problem that we’ve seen is in the Monte Rosso Petite Sirah. About one in twenty clusters had a significant botrytis infection.

Botrytis in white grapes can sometimes give you a slight, pleasant apricot character, but in red wines it is not desirable. When we bring in the Petite Sirah, we will have the vineyard workers field sort it, meaning that they will drop the infected clusters on the ground and only bring clean fruit into the winery.

On the other hand, the Petite Sirah clusters that do not have a botrytis infection are tasting particularly nice. The sugars and flavors are not quite where we need them yet, but there is enough crop that we will be able to get the amount we want at the quality we want it to be after field sorting.

The weather is supposed to be warm and dry for the next few weeks, so we’re looking forward to getting the rest of this harvest underway!

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.


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