Vineyard: Flowering & Fruit Set

We finally experienced flowering and fruit set in the vineyard! It was a little slow this year as the temperatures have been up and down in Paso Robles, CA. We’ve been surprisingly cool, but this week is picking up to the 100 degree days. (not sure if I’m ready for the hot, hot heat yet!)
pfvmay18-3096.jpg
Now that we’ve had the flowering and fruit set occur, what does that mean? It means a lot as this is the development of the fruit for the year! It’s a crucial time that occurs, after the leaf canopy’s growth begins and the calyptras appear. The calyptras (caps for short) look like itty-bitty green grapes, but actually they are just spheres holding the pollination parts and pollen. Many plants require pollination from bees, but vines are wondrous self-pollinators. The flowers have their own male and female parts.
 pfvmay18-3115.jpg
Once ready, the calyptra opens to show a pistil and stamens holding pollen. The pollen is softly transferred to the pistil slowly fertilizing it (it’s a slow dance, let’s say), which eventually produces seeds. These blossoms are not protected, which leaves them susceptible to weather elements such as gusty winds, hail, and extreme temperatures. It is a nail biter as these elements can “shatter” the outcome of the harvest in the fall. As mentioned in another blog, vines like consistent and slow developing temperatures, not extremes. This year (2018) has shown to be not perfect, but positive:
“Shatter happens when it gets too hot. Shatter also happens when temps get below 70 degrees and over 90 degrees. When the temps are below 70 and above 90 and it is too windy then pollination doesn’t occur very well. This photo shows that our crop is good, nice weight, and nice loose clusters. All in all, we have had only moderate shatter and a good fruit set so far.” – David Parrish
IMG_4366
So, now you’re probably wondering what shatter is. Shatter is when the clusters fail to develop to full maturity. Flowers can remain closed and therefore, unable to pollinate…meaning no berries. The vine is trying to preserve it’s carbohydrates because it becomes focused on staying alive against the elements. What this means is that there will be less clusters at harvest, which equals less production for the winery.
4a.jpg
Once flowering and pollination takes place, fruit set occurs.  This is when the fertilized eggs form seeds and pericarp tissues form a berry, kind of like an envelope around the seeds.  The berry’s size will be impacted by the number of seeds. A berry with no seeds is smaller and a berry with up to 4 seeds will be larger. The reason berry size makes a difference is if you have a cluster with various berry sizes, it is difficult on the ratio of skin to pulp for the winemaker.
A fully grown berry is 75% pulp, 20% skin, and 5% seeds. Pulp is essential for flavor and aroma in the wine. The main component is water and the second being sugar, which is vital for yeasts to eat during fermentation (creates alcohol). Skin is important for color, flavor, and aroma as well as the tannins, which will impact a wine’s texture and structure. The seeds also contain tannins. As you can see if you have a higher ratio of skin to pulp, this will mean a more tannic wine and that the winemaker may have issues with the fermentation process, which is important for alcohol to develop. On the flip side, if there is too much pulp (happens from too much water in the berry), this may impact color and flavor.
To avoid issues during fruit set, viticulturists begin thinking after the year’s harvest about the vine dormancy, root moisture, and soil health as these will impact the fruit for the next season. Pruning is also important for the new growth. Ultimately though, it does depend on the weather each year, but growers will do all they can outside of that factor.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into just the grape itself and it begins prior to even bud break. It is just a reminder that it takes a lot of work to get to the glass of wine.
Next up, the berries will begin to grow in size:
4b.jpg
Stay tuned for berry growth and soon, veraison, which is when the grapes turn color…my favorite time in the vineyard as I find it fascinating…well, I like it all, but veraison is really cool to see.
Cheers!
Cecily

Vineyard: Pollination Rows

A very beautiful, sustainable practice in the vineyard is pollination rows. This is something I just learned in the last year as my knowledge of this industry never stops growing, so I wanted to share about it as we are in the midst of spring time with lupin, mustard, and poppy covered hillsides.

Pollination rows are when we put in pollinating, native plants (wild flowers!) through out the vineyard. The mix we put down is allowed to grow for the majority of the season so the flowers can seed. This then becomes an open invite for beneficial insects such as the praying mantis and lady bug. These wonderful insects eat bad bugs such as aphids and spread the seeds into other rows of the vineyard. So, this creates an overall healthy environment for not only our vines, but the insects we love! Not to mention it’s absolutely beautiful. As you can guess this reduces our need for spraying, which always puts a smile on our vineyard manager’s face. The best part, since we’ve been doing this for years, is that it works very well. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Check out below the photos from last year that we submitted to the AG department. Thank you Linnea of our vineyard management company, Vineyard Professional Services, for sharing these!

Have a great Wednesday!

Cecily

Quick Fact: Did you know dust brings aphids into a vineyard (or crop)? That’s why we have signs on dirt roads that say speed limits in an attempt to control the dust. Aphids suck nutrients from a plant, which can stunt growth and wilt leaves. An infestation can create havoc and there’s only 4,000+ species of aphids. Cue the “More You Know” jingle.

Vineyard: Bud Break

untitled-91.jpg

Bare lines of vines, a coo of a pigeon in the distance, and the crackling of footsteps as a vineyard manager passes through the rows in the morning light. He has done this many mornings, but his steps stop as he notices something different. There it is…light green, soft, even a little fuzzy…it is a bud.

Each year we eagerly wait for bud break to occur. This is when the vines push open leaves much like other plants during the spring. Dormant vines awake when daylight and temperatures increase, which encourages the vines to pull up stored water and macro-nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) from the roots to the limbs. This up-flow of water and nutrients push open the buds. You would think that after leaves push open that it would mean photosynthesis would occur immediately, but it does not. It takes the vine a little bit of time, leaves the size of about silver dollars, before that process begins.

IMG_0602.JPG

One of the most important parts of bud break is that it is a measurable starting point for the vineyard. We can actually start the clock for when pivotal moments will occur. For instance, we now know we are about 150 to 200 days away from harvest depending on the grape variety. It seems like this then would mean that bud break itself is actually a markable date, but it’s not that simple. This is still farming, which means everything is variable. When bud break occurs depends on a few things. Each terroir is different. And you can probably guess, each variety of is different.

A cooler terroir means that bud break will be later, while a warm terroir like in Paso Robles, CA will have an earlier bud break. In Paso Robles, we have seen buds as early as February. Although for us this year (2018) we are running a little slower as we have had a cooler spring. Each year is different! Another factor is micro-terroir. The difference between locations of vines in a single vineyard will even come into play. A hillside vine will have bud break because of its elevation, but a lower valley vine will still be dormant. Lastly, varieties will have bud break at different times. In our Adelaida Vineyard, our  Malbec and Cabernet Franc had bud break first, but the Cabernet Sauvignon hit the snooze button. As you can see, there are many variables that go into this and this is just one part of the vine cycle!

IMG_3796 2.JPG

While there are variances in the cycle, one consistent thing is temperature. Vines are very dependent and particular about temperature. Vines prefer gradual temperature increases for bud break, but they don’t always get that. Sometimes they get awoken from slumber with a warming trend and then hit with a freeze. That is why vineyards have tall fans to help with frost protection. A freeze will damage the cellular tissue in the leaves and the leaves will then turn black. It’s awful. This then kills the growth for your year and can sometimes decimate a vineyard. Bud break is basically the infancy stage of the vine. You want to protect it because the leaves are soft and fragile at this stage, much like you would with a newborn (and well, we all know parenting doesn’t stop there). So, that is the one thing all farmers can count on is frost season and the need to be vigilant.

IMG_0650.JPG

We have a mobile, quieter fan it’s so cool. Contact us if interested.

After bud break, we now watch as the leaves begin to grow (obviously). Photosynthesis will begin at a certain point and once that happens the shoots of the vines will really take off as the vines will receive something that they love, much like humans, carbs! Up next is flowering, so stay tuned.

Happy Friday and hopefully this gave you something to think about while you sip your wine…cheers!

-Cecily

Meet: Lynn Parrish

We wanted to revisit getting to know our team as Parrish Family Vineyard is very much what it is because of our team. So, here’s your chance to learn more about them!

First up, Lynn Parrish, who is an owner and has been an integral part of the team behind the scenes.

lynnparrish2

What do you love about Paso Robles?
That it is thriving and growing, but still has that small town appeal.

Where is your favorite spot on the Central Coast?
My home in Creston where we planted our first vineyard (1995). It’s a little slice of heaven.

What are you passionate about?
Any project I tackle be it gardening, work on the ranch, or during the winter months some kind of craft work. And, of course, my 30 year long passion of weight lifting!

How do you take your coffee?
Black in the morning and half-and-half with sweetener in the afternoon.

What is your favorite dish?
Almost anything cooked in a slow cooker.

What is one job you’ve had before that would surprise people?
I was a firefighter for the US Forestry during the summer breaks when I was in college.

What is your favorite family tradition?
Celebrating the 4th of July at our place in Creston down at our little lake.

What is one of your favorite memories at the winery?
When David and I single handedly made our Cabernet Sauvignon in 2009.

White Shade Cloth in the Vines

Happy Friday all!

With it being Summer, it is definitely a time for enjoying the sun, but as we know too much sun can lead to a dependence on aloe vera and cold packs. This is true for grapes, the sun is an imperative part of grape development, but too much can lead to issues. Grapes depend on the sun for photosynthesis to occur, but too much heat and sun can lead to sun burns, excessive sugar, and lack of acidity. This can result in unbalanced wines with high alcohol. The flip side of this applies as well…too little heat can prompt high acidity and a lack of sugar. Sugar is a necessary part of fermentation in the wine process. As you can see, there needs to be a balance, like in everything, for grape development to be successful and lead to deliciously, balanced wines.

How do you put reigns on a natural part of creation such as the sun? Viticulturists have been using the leaves for years in their vineyards to help facilitate sun distribution, but there is now a shade cloth that can be installed to help create even distribution of light. We recently installed this white shade cloth in our Adelaida Vineyard (Paso Robles) to do just that. It not only has a purpose, but looks really lovely.

IMG_1562

I was curious about the shade cloth, so after seeing our new tanks at our production barn (winery) I drove around our vineyard and found a tall man walking down the rows straightening the white shade cloth. It was my dad (David Parrish).

“Pretty cool, huh?” He said with a smile.

“Yeah! It looks great, dad. So, I’m assuming the shade cloth is to protect the grapes from the sun?”

“Correct….”

Thus started my dad on the innovation and science behind this white cloth.

It started 10 years ago when my dad was working with Paul Hobbs. He was seeing a need for sun protection, but something that wouldn’t completely block the sun from the grapes. My dad had been primarily working with dark shade cloth for nurseries with his company A&P. So, he began working with a company overseas, but the white shade cloth was very expensive. It wasn’t until a year ago when he found another company that he was able to invent a cloth that would have the perfect weave, exact spaced holes for easy hanging, and it was half the price of the previous cloth. It was also reusable and came on large spools for easy installation. Finally, a perfect match for what vineyards were needing!

IMG_1573

So, what makes this white shade cloth better than other shade cloths? There is a science to it and it related a lot to what I know from photography. The white shade cloth helps distribute the light by filtering direct sunlight, but also bouncing reflected light from the other types of sunlight through out the day. This creates more even lighting, which in turn develops more consistent fruit in the vineyard. Therefore:

The viticulturist gets better yield.

The winemaker receives better quality fruit.

The consumer drinks better wine.

A win for everyone on the trail from grape to bottle. So, it is actually a really important piece of innovation that could help the vineyard/wine industry be elevated overall…just with the basic concepts of harnessing light. “Pretty cool, huh?”

After my dad got done explaining all the information to me, I realized that we had bonded over science, which is not something that happens as he is very left brained and I am very right brained. Although, as I write this, we actually embody what wine is…science and art.

-Cecily

IMG_1572