First Harvest: September 26, 2012
We tucked our Petit Manseng grapes safely into netting once verasion (ripening) began to keep it safe from birds. Last year the mockingbirds had a field day on the fruit, inviting in other birds from who knows where to ravage the grapes. I could see the clusters behind the netting but not very well. So it was a bit like Christmas when I removed the netting and saw beautiful, clean clusters of Petit Manseng fruit.
Picking Petit Manseng clusters
Rebecca and I harvested the gifts, enjoying the feel of the beautiful clusters in our hands. I left some small little clusters for the mockingbirds. All year they monitored the vineyard, made nests in the vines, and ate lots of insects. It seems fitting that they should have a little fruit, though Scott points out that they have more fruit than they can eat over in the compost pile of pressed grape skins. I still think they may enjoy hopping around in the vines and picking out a berry or two.
Close up of Petit Manseng fruit
Each vine yielded nearly 5 pounds of fruit, on two trunks with 4 or 5 shoots to the two canes along the fruiting wire. This is vertical shoot positioning (VSP) on canes. Our amazing vineyard consultant, Lucie Morton, showed us how to prune the vines in March for this French method. Lucie came out several times in the spring to demonstrate how to prune the canopy for the least amount of disease pressure. What we are looking for is balance in the vineyard with each vine taking up its space and not its neighbors. Openness in the canopy is important for light and air circulation.
Into the press!
Two of our Tasting Room pourers, Sarah C and Sarah T, as well as our family friend Mahaut from France helped me work among the vines this year as we attempted to get closer to the ideal balance among the vines. When the vineyard reflects this balance, it is lovely to behold. It is not a one time endeavor but, like most of life, it requires ongoing focus.