Thursday, July 22, 2010
Follow the 2010 vintage: Leafing and thinning
This past Monday I received the excited word from Rachel that the Merlot grapes were changing color in the vineyard. I was in touch with Adam McTaggart, Boxwood's winemaker, to ask him if he would go through the vineyard with me for this installment of Boxwood Winery's Follow the 2010 Vintage series.
Adam has been engaged in the oversight of the leafing and trimming in the vineyard. Growing great grapes requires just enough leaves to concentrate sugars in the grape and allow them a little shade relief from the sun. Much of the grape crop is also removed from the vine to allow the strongest, fittest grapes to thrive.
This was the first time I observed a vineyard being thinned. The home gardener might swoon at the sight of the grapes which will not be put to use but it is necessary to great wine-making to limit the amount of grapes each vine works to maintain. The thinned grapes return to the land as vineyard compost, for certain they are not wasted.
It requires a bit of a hardening of a gardener's heart to do this work. "That's the problem when people are new in the vineyard," Adam said, "they are afraid to take off enough." I would easily fall into that category as it does stir a shudder, but vineyards and gardens diverge in their requirements for success at times.
Once the leafing and thinning is complete the vineyard will be netted to protect the 2010 grape crop from birds and animals. I will be out on the property with Adam again as the netting goes up, be sure you are subscribed to the Boxwood Winery Blog to track our 2010 vintage's progress.