Viticulture Association of the Santa Cruz Mountains
Map with permission of
The Pinots are maturing nicely and the Chardonnays are taking on that
luminescent glow that promises golden luscious fruit. By the time you read this
the Syrahs, Merlot, and Cabernets will be well on their way to the final phase
of ripening. Pinot Noir vineyards will be harvesting.
If we get a heavy
fall rain there may be need for a late season botrytis spray of Elevate. This is
only necessary if we get a significant rain and if your vineyard is already
suffering from mildew damage and is yet weeks away from harvest. Your best
defense against late morning fog and heavy dew is canopy management. Create an
environment within your canopy that allows the clusters to dry out quickly. Even
if you have to resort to a late season spray it will do no good if you canít
get adequate coverage. Maintain vigilance on late season irrigation practices as
well. Try not to let your canopy die out too quickly. The leaves are your
photosynthetic sugar factory and you need green healthy leaves to keep the fruit
ripening. Though we may never get our late season heat this year it is important
to pay attention and be prepared for some measured irrigation if the days heat
up or the canopy appears to be shutting down.
After harvest give your vines a deep drink (8 hours or more) to allow
them to shut down and recover nutrients for next yearís crop.
2005 has been a
bit of a challenging year. Unseasonable
spring rains in June and July have created havoc among some growers, especially
in Chardonnay vineyards with historic mildew infections. Once you are into
verasion, the mildew pressure will subside. If you have mildew damage you may
need to keep some Elevate in the storage shed available to apply to healthy
clusters in case of any significant late season rain. Elevate has a reach back
effect of up to 72 hours post rain event. Elevate can only be used 3 times a
year and is a fungicide specific to Botrytis.
more than spraying, the most important defense against botrytis is canopy
management. In fact if anything can be said about management of vineyards in
2005 it is canopy management, often and early. Shoot thinning was required in
many vineyards this year usually more than once. Leaf removal around newly set
clusters was essential. If you have
not harvested yet be sure to cut apart clusters that are too tightly bound
together or are crushed against some part of the trellis.
are especially sensitive to heat events that occur suddenly after a steady
pattern of foggy mornings. If your Pinot is not yet harvested be on guard
against the response of shrivel to a sudden heat spike on water stressed vines.
Even though this has been a cool fall things can still change with short notice.
are monitoring tools available to help you determine exactly how much water you
need and when. The pressure bomb that measures water in the plant tissue is
probably the most timely and accurate way to gauge water stress in the vine.
There are also several different types of soil monitoring tools all of which
have improved over the years.
aids are always useful. Look at the tips of your vines. Are the tendrils growing
past the tip? If so, your vines probably donít need water. Are the tendrils
falling off? You probably should have watered last week. The drawback to visual
aids is they are often a little after the fact but itís better than nothing.
bottom line is that your vines are probably going to need extra help going into
severe heat events, especially if you have Pinot Noir or Syrah. Cabernet,
Chardonnay, and Merlot seem to hold up better but if you have historically seen
significant shrivel in your vineyard consider trying some late season deficit
irrigation techniques. In a season like this one many vineyards have not watered
at all up until this point. Irrigation is a site specific thing so there is no
one fits all schedule that works for everybody. Keep walking your vineyards and
tasting the fruit. Look at your records. Talk to your winemakers. If your vines
look thirsty they probably are and contrary to folk wisdom anorexic vines do not
produce the best fruit. Love your vines and care for them with the attention of
a parent. Give them a little drink when itís hot.
out mealy bug traps one more time to catch any late season flies in your
vineyard. No positive IDís were
made from the traps that have been turned in so far. Keep checking.
your cover crop and order seed. In weaker vineyards a simple blend of barley or
oats and bell beans can be a wonderful soil builder and stabilizer. In mature
vineyards that could use some vigor reduction, consider a permanent cover crop
of a clover and fescue blend. There are many pre-formulated cover crop blends
that are designed for specific vineyard conditions. Vineyard floor management is
an essential tool for producing premium fruit and reducing labor and spray costs
in the coming year due to excessive vigor or poor soil conditions. Planted
vineyard floors also allow tractor access in the winter to apply dormant sprays
or perform weed control.
of all enjoy your vineyard as you patiently await the perfect moment of harvest.
There is nothing like an early fall morning stroll among the vines, sampling the
extraordinary flavors that the unique appellation of the Santa Cruz Mountains
can provide. As the sugars go up our hopes for the next best vintage soar.
Buena suerte y
Viticulture Association of the Santa Cruz Mountains
(Vine Talk column, October 2005)
Send mail to
questions or comments about this web site.