Our vineyard crew will take advantage of dry weather this week to remove suckers on vines in two vineyards, removing grow tubes in one vineyard, and tying up vines that have come loose from the trellis in another vineyard. They will also be spraying fungicide and mowing. Of course, when fungicide is sprayed, everyone will have to stay out of the sprayed vineyard for 1–3 days, depending on which fungicide was sprayed. So, we have to schedule carefully.
We are just starting to see grapes start to show some color indicating that we are just starting to move into what is called veraison. Not only do the individual grapes start to turn red (if they are red grapes) and a translucent green (if they are white grapes), but they also soften up and start getting sweet.
Once we have veraison, we are at the point where we need to start watching our red grapes carefully and make sure that birds haven’t discovered them. At some point, we will start to deploy netting to protect our grapes from the birds. We do this only in vineyards in which we’ve experienced bird pressure in the past. The reason is that installing netting is very time consuming and we won’t do it if we don’t think it is necessary.
Finally, veraison is the time each year that we take samples of the stems of grape leaves (they are called petioles) and send them to a lab to have their “juices” analyzed for nutrients. We will talk more about this in a couple of weeks.
Incidentally, vineyards in California are just now moving into veraison. Keep in mind that they budded out 6-8 weeks before our vines did this spring and they won’t harvest most grapes until late September when we will be finished with the harvest. Their grape varieties have different growth patterns.