Enjoy the fifth story from Nic Stevens, Vineyard Manager at Tsillan Cellars.

The cold wet spring really put us behind.

The month of August has brought plenty of heat with it to the vineyards. A heat that still hasn’t really let up. It looks like the end of August and first days of September will be our last extreme heat for the year. Overall our vines have held up really well, but they are eagerly awaiting the mid 80 degree days ahead of them.

August also brought veraison to the vineyards. During veraison the grape berries begin to ripen and accumulate sugar. In red grape varietals the grape berries will change from green to a red or purple color. Veraison is an exciting time for a grower and winemaker, it lets us know our grapes are moving to the finish line and harvest is right around the corner.

Speaking of harvest, let’s take a look at the start date of harvest last year, and see how far behind we are currently in this growing season. Tsillan Cellars first pick of 2021 was Pinot Grigio and that pick took place August 31st. I’m writing this on August 31, 2022 and the Pinot Grigio is currently only 75% through veraison. The cold wet spring really put us behind, we don’t anticipate harvest starting in the Pinot for at least 3 more weeks!

As always our vineyard crew has been hard at work. The high temperatures have been hard on them. They start the day before the sun comes up to try and get as much done before the sun’s heat chases them out of the vineyards. Even with shortened work days, they have the vineyard in great shape and ready for the final push to harvest. They have spent the days dropping excess fruit and putting bird netting on. We install bird netting to keep the birds from eating all our tasty grapes. The more sugar the berries accumulate the worse the bird pressure gets. The nets don’t keep the birds completely out, but they do make it very difficult for them to get a snack.

Installing the netting is a very labor intensive task, it takes four people to get the nets on. One person to drive the tractor, one person inside the cage that’s carried by the tractor to feed the net out of the bag, and two people on both sides of the row to pull the nets down over the vines. Each one of the bags that the nets are in are marked for a specific block, that way we know what net goes where. It takes the crew a solid week to get the nets on all 36 acres of grapevines. Just to take them right back off once the fruit is harvested.

Until next month. Cheers!

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