This a very exciting, anxious, and busy time in the Youngberg Hill vineyard!
Exciting because we are at bloom, meaning the flowers are blooming on the vines and will begin self-pollinating. The bloom is a very fine follicle-like flower that is hardly visible from more than a couple of feet away.
Anxious because as pollination occurs, the beginning of fruit set starts. Fruit set is the process of each flower transforming into a grape. It is an anxious time because this process determines much of what the potential yield will be, and the quality level of the fruit. Weather is particularly important at this stage, as we do not want a lot of rain or wind that may shatter flowers and reduce fruit set.
And busy because the vines are growing an inch a day right now, generating a lot of foliage to provide the leaves necessary for photosynthesis. Because of this growth, we are constantly in the vineyard straightening by hand the fast growing shoots, so that they do not overlap and entangle each other, which would reduce photosynthesis and provide a breeding ground for unwanted mildew. We re-position these shoots by installing catch wires to hold the vines in place.
In the meantime, we are also on the tractor plowing under cover crop (to reduce the competition for water), cultivating between the plants (to eliminate weeds and water competition), mowing, and spraying as needed (to protect the new vulnerable growth.)
We will be discussing these and other farming practices as they relate to our holistic farming approach at our upcoming seminar on July 26 from 2:30 to 5:00 here at Youngberg Hill. We’d love for you to join us!