Preparation of the annual harvest estimate is finally possible. This is a multi-step process that starts with a sample count of clusters on vines of each variety in each block. We make a big assumption that the grape bunches are going to be the same weight as last year. By multiplying the number of clusters by the cluster weights, we get a harvest estimate for each variety in each block. These estimates are added up for each variety and then adjusted for harvest loss we experience when we mechanically harvest. We compare the final numbers to numbers for past years to get a reality check and then the cellar will know how much fruit of each variety to expect. They can then start deciding which tanks will be used for each batch.
We continue to tie and remove suckers. This is especially important in order to help the vines minimize their need for water.
So far, although the surface of our vineyards are very dry, the vines look very healthy. The dry weather has not hurt them so far. Even the cuttings we planted about a month ago are still growing like gangbusters. We haven’t done any watering yet, however, we will soon start to hand water the 600 new vines we planted. Most of our 38,500 vines are drip irrigated, however, we haven’t used the irrigation system in 3–4 years. This may be the year that we do irrigate.
Finally, on Saturday, we received 8.5 miles of bird netting. We will install the netting over red grapes as soon as the grapes change color. This is about two to three weeks before harvest. The birds aren’t attracted to grapes until they turn red or purple. Once they’ve discovered the grapes, they can strip a vineyard in just a couple of days. We time the application of the netting so that we minimize bird predation but not so early that the vines continue to grow up through the netting. When the vines grow up through the netting, it becomes very difficult to remove.