Vineyard & Winery Management

January - February 2012

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HARVEST REPORT There was ample winter rainfall in most districts, which began just before the conclusion of the 2010 vintage. It kept raining right through bud break and into bloom in some districts. Significant precipita- tion occurred across the state until early June. For instance, nearly 2 inches of rain fell in some locations, including the San Joaquin Valley, near Fresno. Snow packs in the Sierra Nevadas were much deeper than usual, and nearly all reservoirs around the state filled to capacity. There were plenty of beneficial insects to help control leaf hoppers and mites due to the abun- dant cover-crop habitat. Frost damage was a huge problem in the Central Coast, and a few other areas that are normally frost- free during the growing season, including the west side of the Sacramento Delta region. The evenings of April 8-10 saw temperatures drop below freezing in vineyards from southern Monterey County to the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County. The east side of Paso Robles was particularly hard-hit. Since these were advective freezes, there was no stratification of warm air above cold air in the low- lying areas. Consequently, many upland vineyards that usually have low freeze risk had significant frost damage. This was one of the largest and most dam- aging frost events in that region in many years. Fruit failed to form in many vineyards, even on regrowth from secondary buds. During March, April and May, cool, cloudy condi- tions delayed canopy expansion and bloom in many areas. In Mendocino and Lake counties, many variet- ies didn't bloom until mid-June. The highest and cool- est vineyard areas bloomed in the first week of July. In some vineyards, Botrytis infected both shoots and flowers, which wasn't an immediate problem, but would become a serious issue later in the season, when fall rains occurred before harvest and there was considerable inoculum present from those early infections, which would cause wide-spread damage. Light crops were set in many vineyards, either due to poor pollination conditions (wet, cool and windy) or poor cluster size and a low flower count. This prob- ably was due in part to poor light conditions from 2010's cool and cloudy spring, during flower initiation for the 2011 fruit. The pinot noir crop in Monterey County was one example of this. Not only was the weather cloudy and foggy during bloom, it was also windy. Many North Coast vineyards experienced rain during bloom, or heavy fog. Set was poor for merlot, pinot noir and zinfandel. Even in the Sierra Foothills, set was very light for zinfandel due to a cool spring. All over California, the summer was cooler than normal, which delayed crop maturation by around three weeks. Growers really had to stay on top of their powdery mildew programs, as pressure was very high during much of the season. In the interior valleys, the weather was unseasonably cool, with few "heat storms" where temperatures exceed 100°F. Sunburned fruit was rare in most areas. Many coastal vineyards were minimally irrigated, as there WWW.VWM-ONLINE.COM JAN - FEB 2012 VINEYARD & WINERY MANAGEMENT 45

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