Growing Season 2016 is off and running in the Northern Hemisphere! Many vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, and Lake Counties are seeing what is called Bloom and Set. Domesticated grapevines, what we see as wine grapevines, are hermaphroditic. This means they have both the male and female botanical parts and self-pollinate. This keeps the Chardonnay varietal from mixing with the Cabernet and producing some truly funky stuff.
Right now, the grapevine flowers are blooming. If you have a sensitive nose, you can actually smell it in the vineyards. The aroma is purple floral, think geraniums. This is a very sensitive time for the vines. Any significant amount of precipitation can wash away the pollen of the flowers and cause “shatter”. Shatter is where the flowers within grape clusters do not produce berries because they were not fertilized. Shatter can significantly reduce yield and result in a tricky harvest by decreasing Set. Set is short for berry set, referring to the fertilization of the flower producing a growing berry.
Considering the region just got some rain fall 2 weeks ago and is looking to have some this weekend, things may get dicey. Luckily, so far, shatter in the Lake County has been too problematic. A good number of vineyards in Sonoma and Napa counties had already proceeded into set and were far enough along to not be bothered too much by the rains. It appears this growing season will be touch and go, though still better than 2015!!