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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Progress report 10/1

This is where I start to get excited. Nick gets that stressed-out, headache look, but I love harvest. It only comes once a year (for grape growers anyway) and you had better not screw it up. The Dolcetto will start us off as it normally does on Friday, and what we thought was a nice, spread-out harvest is compressing into one big free-for-all. Water stress means we will start pulling select Primitivo vines on Saturday as some vines are starting to defoliate (most look good though). Trying to dry-farm is tough. It all looks good and then a heat spike throws it all away. Three days over 100 a few weeks ago made for serious fragility.
Crazy thing is: the olives are virtually ready. The crop is incredibly light, almost too little to pick. We are thinking of curing them this year, maybe. The picture shows the tale. This was the most dense selection I could find.
The first picture is our Dolcetto about 12 days ago - cropped o.k., happy and healthy. It looks good this year - possibly really good. The second picture is Barbera - a very heavy cropper normally. Look how light the crop is with no thinning at all. The Barbera on the west side of our property had heavy frost damage. It looks to be at around two tons to the acre (this picture). Our back block of younger vines has been thinned and is probably around four to five! They are only 400 feet apart, but the younger vines are closer to the wind machine! The heavy crop will go for Rose this year, and our older vines will produce the mega-Barbera. I will try to post a little map as each block has a specific place-ness (don't use the t-word!) to its growth patterns and soil issues (except for the gophers, which are everywhere). In a few years, with some increased vine age, dry farming should work.This year, everything got one shot of drip irrigation in August, at veraison. Right now though, it is a delicate balance. It has been a very dry, hot year. The vines sort of stalled out a week ago, but now flavor is picking up noticeably everyday. I have my fingers crossed that our Nebbiolo one mile down the road looks as good.

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