Back at the ranch

This is a desirable cluster of Cabernet Sauvignon. All of the grapes completed veraison (turned from green to blue) in mid-August, the cluster is long and tight, it’s hanging in the primary fruit zone, and it’s in a cone shape.

Every August we cut off and discard thousands of undesirable clusters because they are not suitable for winemaking. We must drop those clusters because the vines will divert some of their limited energy to developing and ripening them. The winemaker wants all of that energy directed only to the desirable clusters.

The following photos show the typical clusters discarded in Howell Mountain vineyards.

Did we mention that dropping fruit is a bit tedious?

Gerry mowed the vineyard for the last time this year to reduce wildfire risk and to prepare for fall frost. He can’t use his tractor because mowing with metal blades in August is not allowed.

We saved the most fun for last. We wrapped the vineyard perimeter in bird netting. This prevents the turkey and quail from walking into our vineyard and exhibiting their voracious appetites. Although they can fly, they prefer to walk in and out of the vineyard.

To keep this fight fair, we do not restrict them from flying into the vineyard and eating all they want. So far they have not discovered this solution. It’s funny watching them look at each other with great frustration as they stand at the edge of the netting.

We hope you had as much fun in August as we had.

Barb and Gerry Sieck

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