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Romance blossoms in the vineyard

by David on May 22, 2009

The vines are in flower. Even as we speak, the flower petals are shedding their delicate caps to open up, liberating the pollen to fertilize the waiting ovules!

Gracious me! I think I need a drink!

Surely, if they are destined to become wine in a few months these must be spectacular, fragrant blooms hanging from our vines.

NOT!

I’m afraid these plain, tiny little blossoms are so unnoticeable that they’re not likely to attract a bee, much less, your attention.

And, actually, that’s all to the good. Our very busy vines don’t have to spend their precious time trying to attract insects or rely on the wind to get the job done. The flowers are hermaphrodites, which is just a college word to say they take care of themselves, if you know what I mean. The flowers contain the male stamens and the female ovary and could successfully pollinate if totally cut off from the outside world. Isn’t that convenient? We just need good weather and, fortunately, May is usually quite a nice month around here.

So far, aside from a little heat last weekend, the weather has been quite delightful. We’re looking for an even-keel weather situation to make for even pollination which leads to relatively even fruit-set. If the clusters are fairly uniform it makes it much easier for Geoff Gorsuch, our Winemaker, to make a harvest decision a few months from now.

I saw the first sign of flowering in our neighbor’s Chardonnay way back on May 8th, so I quickly ran to check our Merlot, but nothing. The Merlot and Cabernet Franc got going a few days later. Today, the 22nd, our Cabernet is in full bloom, so we should be all done here pretty quick, which means things are running right on time.

Interestingly, come harvest time, you’ll probably see a similar sequence for these grapes landing on our door step. The Chardonnay will probably be ready just about the time the Merlot and Cab Franc are. The Cab and Petit Verdot like to hang in there until the bitter end.

But, for now, we see adorable little baby grapes already taking the place of the buds.

Fruitset

Before you know it, they’ll look like little peas.

Next up: Geoff counts the clusters to see how this all turns out. Of course, there’s nothing he can do if there are fewer than he anticipated but if there are more, he’ll thin the excess out so that the remaining ones have plenty of  flavor intensity.

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