Out in the field, there is always the next physiological phase for the vines. They are what we constantly scout for, count Growing Degree Days for, and hope for the right timing when they come. This past week was another set of harrowing circumstances for the impending phase: BLOOM!
As most of you experienced, this weather has been a bit... volatile this week. High 80s and sunny, violent storms, and now temperatures dropping off a little bit. One is great, one is moot, and the third is highly undesirable.
Sun and wind are great friends of a vineyard; they rapidly dry out unwanted moisture that could cause a fungal outbreak like Downy or Powdery Mildew. The cooler temperatures (to a certain point) are harmless, bordering beneficial, as they might retard to growth of any unwanted guests.
The storms pose a three-fold threat right now:
1. Cloudy (lacking direct UV light), warm, and very wet is the ideal scenario for fungal infections;
2. Self-polinating plants like grapes do not do great when the time comes and heavy storms abuse the exposed pistil/stamen (reproductive flower bits), scattering necessary pollen everywhere except where it is needed;
3. While the wind is good, storm-strength winds are not, as the shoots have not fully hardened off (lignified) and are very prone to snapping clean off of their cane/cordon.
The third is inevitable, and the damage is clear after a day or two. The second will remain an unknown until the next physiological phase. The first is an on-going battle all season long, and we will continue to fight the good fight for your drinking pleasure!