This year has gone incredibly fast. It seems only a few weeks ago that we were talking about the early signs of budburst and yet here we are with grapes about to come in to the winery.
The last couple of weeks has seen numerous trips to the vineyard by the Vineyard Manager, Mark taking grape samples. This isn’t just a case of driving his truck to the closet vine and grabbing a handful, but actually picking enough to be representative of that particular block.
When picking the grapes for sampling, they need to be selected from both sides of a vine, and then the grapes chosen from both sides of the bunch. There are differences!
These are brought back to the winery and tested for the sugar and acid levels – sugars rise as the grapes ripen and the acids drop – the trick is to pick them when they reach the desired levels based on the style of wine being made. Another important factor, and some say the most important, is picking on taste. The grapes are not only physiologically ripe, but captured when the flavour profile indicates desirable characteristics that will be found in the finished wine.
The Blind River vineyard is just one vineyard, but it is split into five blocks that are each treated differently based on their needs. From left to right on the illustration, we have A, B, C, D and E blocks. These are all Sauvignon Blanc with the exception of B block, which is Pinot Noir (the first block on the illustration is actually A and B).
The Sauvignon Blanc is pruned to two canes in blocks C and E and three canes in blocks A and D. This means that the vine is pruned so that there are only two or three ‘branches’ coming off the trunk. Less canes means less fruit and so whilst this means less quantity, there is a huge plus with the quality – in our case, less definitely does mean more.
How? Three canes, but especially two-cane Sauvignon Blanc gives smaller bunches and smaller grapes within those bunches – the flavour and aroma intensity is therefore far greater. We’ll have 30 bunches per vine on two-cane and 45 bunches on three.
Blind River Pinot Noir (clone 115) is all pruned to two canes.
As I type, today is much cooler – as in MUCH cooler. Temperatures last night got down to just a degree or two. Maybe the grapes won’t be in this week after all…