July 23, 2008
This morning we awoke to the painful realization that last night's thunderstorm (which woke us up at 2 AM) caused a tremendous amount of hail damage to the vineyard. As we lay awake in bed, Shannon said "I hope all this hail isn't hurting the vines" - well guess what...
The storm blew in from the west, so thankfully only the western side of each row was hit. It was a tremendous shock to see it for the first time, as I was just out in the vineyard two days ago and was so happy with the progress. Hail damage is easy to spot, as there is a very telltale "cracked berry" syndrom which is sometimes associated with leaf damage (depending on the size of the hail.)
Given our row orientation, and the manner in which I retain leaves on the west side of the rows for shade, the damage was limited due to the protection offered by the canopy. But every cluster that was exposed incurred some damage. I would estimate that 30% of our clusters were hit, and of those clusters I would then estimate a 40% loss of berries.
The big question now is this: will those berries shrivel up and fall from the cluster prior to harvest? Or will we have to drop the entire cluster? In talking to Doug, and researching this issue online (similar article can be found here) I am hopeful that the remaining fruit can stay clean and make it to harvest. That said, I've already decided to make two passes through the vineyard at harvest, the first on the east side with the clean fruit, and the second on the west side with the compromised fruit. At the end of the day, the wine quality must be preserved, so if that means pouring the lesser quality wine down the drain then so be it, but I've got to be able to distinguish between the two in the cellar.
In order to mitigate any disease from the exposed inner berries and juice, I applied the eleventh spray of the season:
Oxidate - 1.5 gallons to 160 gallons of water
Here are a few pictures to remind us all that we are always at the mercy of Mother Nature, and even a vineyard that is 99% disease-free can still be susceptible to a wide array of other damaging elements - select an image to view a larger popup.
Posted by Stephen at July 23, 2008 7:54 AM