Alvaro’s Corner – Frost Follow-Up

La Vista Block 10 Grenache

Most people believe that 2010 was a cold spring but this 2011 spring has been the coldest spring since 1998! With the growing degree days about 200 degrees below the annual to date average the grapes are trying to figure out what to do and when! And to add to this chilliness we experienced three bad frosts starting with the frost of April 8, 9 and 10 which really wreaked havoc on many of the vineyards in the Westside of the Paso Robles AVA and ending with a one-nighter on May 25. Luckily La Vista Vineyards suffered very little damage – maybe one or two tons less Viognier quantity.

Quickly following each of the frosts we irrigated lightly to tell the vines to push and get ready for the warmer weather – and they did!  As soon as the shoots were firmly established and leafing out we treated them with a little sulfur to limit any powdery mildew spores (although there were very few signs of the pest) and a foliar to add a little iron, zinc, manganese and nitrogen to their diet.  Of course, with all of the rain this year, the light irrigations following frosts and the diet supplements the vines have grown vigorously requiring some early shoot thinning starting with the Grenache and Grenache Blanc and then the Viognier.  The other varietals will follow on shortly.  The canopy in the Grenache and Grenache Blanc is very heavy and will require periodic reviews to make sure we get enough, but not too much, sunlight on the clusters as they mature.  We’ve already raised the wires on the VSP trellises to accommodate the early push of the vines in most of the blocks.

The flowering in the Grenache, Grenache Blanc the Viognier is complete and the fruit set looks good and healthy.  I suspect that the flowering on all of the other varietals will be complete following the heat spike of the week of June 20.  We’ve mowed the cover crop and weeds to allow easier access to the vines by the vineyard workers and the vineyard looks immaculate!  The suckering and training the vineyard workers do is a never ending task and I don’t know what we would do without then in the vineyard!  They will continue pulling leaves and suckering to open up the canopy watching to see that not too much sunlight hits directly on the clusters, especially on the Grenache which tends to bleach out if it gets too much sun.

As the weather gets warmer, as it does out here in the Adelaida, we’ll always be watching the tendrils on the vines, and the moisture monitoring equipment for possible water stress.  We try to use the irrigation water to keep a balance in the vines – the root system, the canopy and the fruit.  We believe that a well balanced vine will produce the best quality fruit.

Last year we planted about another acre of Grenache Blanc near the top of the hill in a rocky patch of ground.  The clone is TCVS A – Tablas Creek clone.  It is coming along great and we expect some great fruit in about two-three more years.  We are also increasing the size of block 10, Grenache, by about 200 vines which we hope to plant as “greens” this year.

This is La Vista Vineyards fifth leaf and I am very confident in another great year with the best quality fruit that we have yet produced.  I am looking forward to the harvest this year to show that La Vista Vineyard ranks right up there as one of the premium wine grape vineyards on the Westside.



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