El Niño and White Grapes

It appears we have started to see the impacts of this potential El Niño year.  To those who may not have been aware, it rained Friday night/Saturday morning.  The Santa Rosa region received 0.03″ of rain, which may not sound like much, but can have profound impacts.  Many celebrated as we have been in a five year drought.  Some were not as ecstatic.  Particularly those who have grapes on the vine right now, especially white grapes.

Not to say rain is bad, we need it desperately.  But when it rains this close to harvesting grapes, two things can happen.  The first is mold.  As we are still having warm temperatures, the added moisture can encourage mold growth in between the berries in the clusters.  This can ruin the grapes as the sugars will not only ooze out the broken berries, but the mold will contribute moldy flavors to the wine.  Not quite the ideal.

The second thing that can happen is the vines suck up the water. It seems innocuous on the surface, but by sucking up the water, the vines can direct that water to the berries, diluting the sugars.  This can result in a drop in Brix, and delay the harvest until the berries dehydrate or more sugar is photosynthesized.  Quite a dilemma.

I happen to fall into the category of worried white grape wine makers as my Viognier is still on the vine.  I hope the past few days of hot weather after the rain resulted in dehydration and no mold growth.  I hear the result of the sugar samples today… I am literally on the edge of my seat!  The excitement, the fear, the “oh-my-gosh-I-just-want-the-fruit-to-be-harvested-already”.  I will let you know the second I find out!

Cheers!


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