Friday, August 6, 2010

The First Hints of Color

The first hints of color in the Home Ranch vineyard are a very welcome sight. Due to a very rainy and cool early Spring and current temperatures hovering in the high 70's, this growing season is off to a very slow start.

If this were Bordeaux where harvest-time rains are a common occurrence, being at least 2 weeks behind would be cause for much hair-pulling and Gallic consternation. But this is California, land of sunshine and perpetual optimism (only way to survive in the wine business!), and more than likely late August and September heat will rapidly decrease the gap between where we are and where we should be.

The photo above on the left is Sangiovese, the first grape to be harvested from the Home Ranch. You can see many more berries on this bunch are beginning to go through veraison, the time of year where the grape skins turn from green to red, berries soften up, and the cells of berries begin to size up.

Below to the right is Cabernet. Only the row along the side of the drive shows any color at this point, due probably to the fact that more light (and consequent higher temperatures) can penetrate to the fruit zone on the road side. Cabernet will be picked last from the site in a normal year.

Thus far, the season looks to be a good one. Volumes are about average and there appears to be far less shatter among our blocks most prone to this problem (Merlot, for instance). There are reports of fairly widespread mildew challenges in some Livermore vineyards. Thankfully, Ghielmetti and Home don't show any signs of it.

As the season progresses, look to our blog for more updates.


Michael said...

How would one attempt to deal with mildew issues in the vineyard and later in the barrel? What might mildew do (in terms of characteristics) to the final wine?

Steven Mirassou said...


Good question, especially in light of the mildew pressure on some of the vineyards in the Livermore Valley due to the wet winter and spring.

Mildew can lead to stunted berry growth as it affects the photosynthetic capability of leaves. Usually, sulfur sprays are added in the vineyards satarting about bud break. Sulfur is very effective in combatting powdery and downy mildew as long as coverage of the vine is good and it is done regularly.

As far as mildew affecting the wine...this is not really a problem as most suspect fruit is sorted out before it reaches the crusher.