VSJ Updates: News From The Vineyard

We’ve had a lot of activity in the vineyard recently and we wanted to update you all on the goings-on.

First, as you can see from the bright green in our blocks, we had bud break in the vineyard. Tiny buds appeared early in March, but a long cold spell kept them from really popping out until mid-to-late March. This means we’re on track to have a “normal” year, timing-wise, compared to the previous two years that brought early bud break.

Those buds have been growing into healthy shoots over the last month, and this week we’ve had crews working to thin them out. Thinning the shoots serves several purposes: it’s the first (and, arguably, the best) way to start controlling the season’s fruit yield and quality. By removing shoots, we reduce the amount of fruit each vine will carry, which in turn increases the quality of the remaining fruit. Also, shoot thinning now helps the vine direct its energy into good, strong growth (it’s a little like making sure the vine gets to bed early and doesn’t party now so that it’s energy is up at harvest time). A thinned vine will produce a tall, beautiful canopy that allows dappled sunlight to come in (rather than a short, bushy canopy that can’t ripen fruit and blocks all sunlight).

Not all vines get the same thinning treatment; vines that grow our reserve fruit get the delux spa treatment and are thinned to 2 shoots per spur position (the lumpy wood spots along the vines), while other areas of the vineyard get less thinning (allowing for more grapes for more wine!).

Here’s a photo from today showing what Cabernet Sauvignon vines look like before and after reserve-level thinning:

shoot thinning copy

Note the scraggly sucker-shoots on the trunk (red arrow) in the before picture, and the open, airy spaces in the after photo (yellow circle).

We’ll do our best to bring you more updates like this throughout the season and we look forward to seeing you out here at Villa San-Juliette!


Lauren Hruska-Assistant Winemaker