A Word from the Wine Trail by Brad Knapp of Pinnacle Ridge

Pinnacle_BradAfter growing grapes for 24 years, I have come to one simple conclusion – there is no such thing as typical. Every vintage is different and often, very different, than other vintages. This past winter was fairly miserable, very cold, snowy and long. The winter lingered later than normal and this resulted in a late spring with a later than normal date for bud-break.

Bud-break is one of the biological markers of the vineyard calendar – the vines tell you where they are by their biological responses – bud-break is an early indicator. Another is verasion, the point in time when the red varieties start to take on color, and all varieties start to soften.

After the late bud-break, the weather started to change. We started to get some warmth and things dried up. We had an unusually warm and dry May for example. This had the effect of slowing the growth of the young shoots of the vines, resulting in smaller berries and leaves. Then later in June, things changed. The rain came and came (over 9 inches for us). July has gone back to a more normal pattern with some summer rain storms and increased heat.

As I sit in my air conditioned living room, the vines are basking in full sunshine and 92 degree weather. Verasion has just started in our vineyards at Pinnacle Ridge and other growers in the area are reporting similar results. This is fairly average for verasion so the warmth and rain has allowed the vines to catch up some of the time they lost by the late spring.

What does all of this mean? We will not really know until after the harvest but with the current forecast, we should continue to push ahead with the vines calendar and hopefully end up with an average or early harvest. This increases the chances of getting the late ripening varieties fully ripe. So keep your fingers crossed for continued warm, dry weather.