2011 was the second year in a row for the late bloom, with bud break 3 weeks late due to a cold spring and a gray, cold June. The growing season was warm and dry, with no heat spikes. September was beautiful with sunny days and cool evenings that translated to ripening fruit without huge gains in sugar and losses of fruit acids. I knew harvest was going to be late, but later than 2010? Yes, it was!

With knowledge of a late harvest, farming became the mainstay. 

Pull leaves on the East side of the vines for more morning sunshine and greater air circulation. Reduce crop so yields will be between 2.25 and 2.50 tons per acre. Make green passes in August and September to cut off clusters that will not ripen. Mid September with low sugars, it was apparent; it is time to pull leaves on the west side for greater afternoon heat units.

Then with early morning fog and rain showers the Botrytis started showing its moldy head. Spray programs of helpful organic products and chemicals, inhibit growth of molds, as does good physical canopy management (leaf pulling) and good cane positioning. Redman Vineyards incorporates all of these practices. Yet Mother Nature can push the limits to see if we are paying attention….this year she did not send birds as last year, but she sprinkled botrytis around.

At harvest, with the help of friends and family; first step, we avoided the late botrytis clusters on the vine, we sorted all leaves, stems, botrytis in the vineyard at the picking bin and in the winery on the conveyor as we destem.

Harvest 2011: first picking in Redman Vineyard on Thursday, October 20, small picking about 5 tons. Tuesday, October 25, 15 tons and Thursday, October 27, 20 tons. Harvest was glorious with cool mornings, sunshine all day, perfect harvest conditions. The clusters were amazingly large with rich, rich, long lasting flavor (yes, I am talking the grape cluster). You will find Redman grapes in limited wines from Willamette Valley Vineyards, Prive, Domaine Serene, Adelsheim and Redman!

Cheers!

Cathy Redman

 

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