Archive for July 2018

2018 Harvest Update: July 16th

2018 Growing Season Notes and Observations

July 16, 2018

It was a long winter. We had a lot of snow.

Leading up to May 1 this year, everything seemed to be delayed in the vineyard. Temperatures were still dipping into the low 40’s at the end of April, and yes, there was still a threat of snow. Grapevines grow only when the temperature is above 50° F, and we had very few days when the temperature exceeded that. To illustrate this, growers use “Growing Degree Days” (GDD) to give an indication of how much the temperature is above this 50° point by providing a running total of the number of degrees the average daily temperature exceeds 50°. Comparing 2017 to 2018 shows a big difference between 2017 (with a warm spring, and 167 GDDs) and 2018 (with almost no spring as of May 1, and 41 GDDs).

May 1 marked the beginning of spring and the growing season for us. The weather suddenly went from cold spring to full-blown summer: the high temperature recorded on April 30 was 60° with a low of 30°; May 1 had a high of 76° with a low of 50°. Temperatures stayed high—in the 70’s and 80’s—throughout the month, with the exception of a few days where it fell below average. We can see this reflected with 86 GDDs accumulated from May 1 – 7. (It’s interesting to note that there were only 8 GDDs recorded for this period in 2017, when we entered a period with below normal temperatures for almost a month.)

The net effect of the temperature pattern was that we came into spring with the sense that we were in for a late season, but early May temperatures quickly changed that. The warm weather and well-timed rain gave the vines a kick in the pants, and we not only caught up, but are seeing vine growth that is almost out of hand, with a lot of canopy and abundant growth. Temperatures have continued to be warm. June was fairly wet, but not excessively so, and we are currently getting close to being in a drought situation with rain on its way according to the forecast. Grapes don’t need much rain, in any case.

Fruit set—the period when the flowers turn into viable berries—occurred in favorable conditions, so clusters are full of berries, another requirement for a large crop. If the weather holds favorably, we could be looking at good, large vintage. The critical time occurs after veraison, beginning in Mid-August (not so far away!) for early varieties, and a lot can happen before harvest.

I’ll be starting vineyard visits this week—preliminary scouting trips to mostly talk with growers about conditions and crop projections. More information will follow, along with pictures of the vines and young fruit. These updates will spread out for a while, and then when harvest begins, there will be more frequent updates and observations.

Bob Green
PIWC Executive Winemaker