Currently, our vineyards are pushing into fruit set and most have already started if not finished bloom or flowering. The crop is looking healthy, but quite a bit lighter than the previous 3 years, which set yield records basically everywhere in California. It’s not surprising that the vine seems a bit stressed, with reduced water usage, a short winter and a few heavy crops the last few years.
One positive is that the vine’s maturity pace have slowed to a more encouraging development speed. Plant’s depend on temperature to develop through their phases (bud break, flowering, verasion). We commonly use “degree days” to compare and track a specific vine’s maturity cycle. Degree days are a way of asigning a heat value to each day. The values are added together to give an estiamte of teh amount of seasonal growth our vines have achieved. Here are a couple graphs comparing this year (blue line) with 2014 and 2013’s growing degree days. As you can see, we’re well behind last year and more on pace with 2013, even though we started bud break earlier both years. The stagnant, but appreciated, growth over the last 6 weeks can be contributed to heavy marine layers of fog that don’t burn off until mid day, then providing 65 to 75F days with pacific ocean breezes to help prevent against any mildew or spore settlement in the vineyard.