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We hit the vineyard around 8:30 am, so that Julie could sample 3 blocks first, and get them in for phenolic analysis at 8 am, and join us. Last night was warm; the grape bunches are warm, and the air is warm!! We checked Z Merlot to be sure we want to harvest it Monday (yes); looked at the Malbec and AC and E Merlot to figure when they are likely to be ready, then looked at B,C,D Cabernet and F Cabernet Franc. Then, as is our way, we adjourned for a cappuccino and breakfast at Cottage Fromage at Vrede en Lust winery to discuss all the information at hand.
Here is what is going on in the vineyard:
a. a major improvement in ripeness since Thursday when I last checked E and V (likely next up for harvest).
b. We decided to harvest upper and lower Z Merlot together; they have come very close in ripeness
c. B,C, and D, Cabernet, are closing in on harvest; it looks like they are likely to be right on the heels of the last of the Merlot, instead of a week or 2 later as is often the case.
d. Vines look good; leaves are green; berries are firm; slightly softer than last week but still in very healthy condition…what we need for continued ripening.
Phil did an information download and here is what else we saw from the data:
a. The rate of increase in Brix mentioned in earlier blogs has screeched to a halt; flattening out. This is GREAT NEWS since the stems & grapes are not yet physiologically ripe; so if we can get some ripening time without an increase in Brix, we will be sitting pretty!
b. Around Feb 2 - 4, we saw a spike in Brix in all sites, then the brix came back down. Normally we would think the spike was due to a bit of berry shrivel but berry size (which we measure every time we sample) did not change. At some level it is nice to know that we don't understand everything; that there are still mysteries to be explained, and, at least for the time being, this is one.
c. Berry variabilities look good; several are better than in earlier samples; Some have widened in distribution. We are sampling blocks over a time line to develop our understanding of the change in evenness of a vineyard as it approaches harvest
Photo is the Saturday morning "ripeness team"; we all go together weekly to look at the vineyard: Julie, Phil, Zelma, Bernard (left to right). Ronald joined us last week but is too busy with his other harvests today.