2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

Discussions and questions (vintages, winemaking, etc) for those ITB. All are welcome to post.
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Merrill Lindquist
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#551 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 5th, 2017, 11:52 am

Paul Gordon wrote:Picked our Halcon Syrah yesterday. The most mature fruit in a few years - seeds almost black, if you break a seed with your teeth the snap is like an explosion in your head. Amazing vivid purple after a foot stomp. Skin tannins tasted smooth, round.
The berries were incredibly small - the size of BBs. I think it goes back to a period of heat at set plus the hot August plus the fact that we dry-farmed.
Initial sugars were an average of 22.8b.
My vineyard experienced very low cluster weight this year. Not much juice in those small berries. Delicious, but way low content. Nothing I can do, so I'm focusing on 2016 in barrel, putting the vineyard to bed, and accepting what this vintage gave us. It is delicious, and I picked on Labor Day (so no dehydration/raisins), but the yield is tough to take. Unlike many others, it will not result in a price increase per bottle. I grow, I sell to EMH, and that is where the buck stops.
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#552 Post by Edward H. Earles » October 5th, 2017, 1:54 pm

Paul Gordon wrote:
Kim Z wrote:Paul interesting how low your Brix is given the flavor ripeness. Is this normal for your site? What was pH if I may ask?

Kim
Rather extreme this year. The last few years brix has been closer to 24 with slightly less maturity.
This year it seems like vines shut down brix development/acid reduction in the heat but seed/fruit maturity continued.
Sounds like this vintage will have the structure to age for decades. Keep us informed, this will be interesting! [cheers.gif]

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#553 Post by Karen Troisi » October 5th, 2017, 2:19 pm

Mr. Veeder cab coming in today.
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#554 Post by N Weis » October 5th, 2017, 4:39 pm

Last Napa Cabernet pick Saturday

Last Alexander Valley Cabernet pick Tuesday

Last Willamette Valley pick Monday

Just like that, it's over!
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#555 Post by Karen Troisi » October 6th, 2017, 6:09 am

Congratulations Nate!

Merlot (Oak Knoll) coming in Tuesday and Stagecoach CS probably the end of next week - waiting on Sonoma coast chard and then we are also done (of course we pick a fraction of what you do).

Really liking what I am tasting thus far from the tank.
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#556 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 7th, 2017, 12:45 pm

Done. Finished with a great day of Reisling, taco truck and live music provided by my folks. Summary and details later.
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#557 Post by Roy Piper » October 7th, 2017, 4:22 pm

N Weis wrote:Last Napa Cabernet pick Saturday

Last Alexander Valley Cabernet pick Tuesday

Last Willamette Valley pick Monday

Just like that, it's over!

Congrats. What about Ovid?
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#558 Post by Josh Grossman » October 9th, 2017, 1:10 am


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#559 Post by Edward H. Earles » October 9th, 2017, 9:49 am

Has anyone heard from Merrill? Is she OK?

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#560 Post by SethM » October 9th, 2017, 10:18 am

Yes, she is fine. Check the main thread in Wine Talk.
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#561 Post by William Segui » October 9th, 2017, 3:42 pm

Last night was wild. Forecast is for a much milder night tonight. Let’s hope that holds

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#562 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 14th, 2017, 6:35 am

We've had a few mornings of frost this week in Anderson Valley and a drive around shows it. Plenty of leaf burn in the low lying areas. My two tractor operators are prepping the soil and drilling in seed. Some of my picking crew are helping other finish up. I've been spending some time totalling up the numbers and paying bills. Feeling quite helpless for my fellow growers and winemakers to the north and south.
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#563 Post by J Krauss » October 16th, 2017, 9:53 am

We picked the last of our fruit yesterday. Only 6 lots, about 19 tons, still hanging when the fires broke out. I'm curious what people are doing in the cellar to handle the smoke? Our winemaking team decided to skip cold soak and add enzymes to the reds to get them off the skins as fast as possible.
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#564 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 17th, 2017, 7:48 am

My 2017 summary:

Similar to last year we picked an above average crop. Not quite as big as 2016's 640 tons, we had 585 this year.

The client list was down to 17 this year (my choice) and we picked 58 different wine lots. 66% of my crop stayed in Mendocino county, which is up the last couple of years.

In 2016 day one was 8/17, this year 8/28 which is more along the lines of a normal start. As usual we started with sparkling Pinot and then Chard, and sprinkled in a little Gewurtz and Pinot Gris just for fun.

2017 will be known in our area as the one with the heat wave after the first week of September. It'll be more infamously known for the firestorm in October after we were done picking.

Reviewing my notes it was much like many other harvests. It started off somewhat calm and orderly, then with the heat it quickly became a logistics battle to keep up with fruit and customers needs and wants. We picked 13 days straight in one stretch, which burned the candle from both ends. My crew pretty much never complained as they know the drill.

We had one period the third week of September where rain was forecast. Weather folks were calling for .35 to .50 in our area but it fizzled out (thankfully) to .05. That meant we got a couple of days rest and were ready to sprint to the finish line. We then picked 15 of the next 17 days to wrap on October 7.

For some reason most of harvest 2017 was less hectic for me than others and I can't explain why. Maybe I'm now finding a comfort level with my crew and customers that took a while to develop? I'm not really sure. We had no major breakdowns or personnel problems which cut back on the stress level. Near the end I had some typical issues with some customers jacking me around trying to fuss over dumb issues when the rest of us knew it was just time to finish. Still I had fewer pissed off phone calls than other years.

I'm still numb from all of the loss that so many people endured from the fires. We know many people who personally lost homes and businesses in the Potter Valley and Redwood Valley areas. One of my dearest friends lost his home in Kenwood and left with just the clothes on their backs. My heart goes out to all effected.
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#565 Post by Kim Z » October 17th, 2017, 9:39 am

Casey thanks for the summary and congratulations on a good season. Seems like lots of bullets to dodge every year - without knowing where they'll be coming from.
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#566 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 18th, 2017, 9:11 am

It is cold this morning here in amazing Calistoga. Someone's frost alarm has gone off for hours - something we typically think of for protecting buds/shoots/fruit in the spring. March/April.

I have not left the property, except to go next door, since returning late Monday. I was forced to leave my property at 3:00 last Wednesday. But when I drove in to my Pickett Road/Rosedale Road area, I noticed very young vines of Cabernet still holding fruit. BARELY holding up that fruit. Frediani vines, but pick date is controlled by the winery Frediani sells to.
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#567 Post by Nolan E » October 18th, 2017, 11:34 am

We finished up receiving/processing yesterday.

We came in about 28 tons over our initial expectation (308 vs 280). Things generally came in pretty steadily, we only had 3 or 4 days of 14+ hour shifts, but few days with no picking.

Now it's just cap management, pressing and barrel downs. We like to do extended macerations so the pressing will likely also be pretty drawn out and hopefully steady, until we run out of settling tanks.

Lots of people comparing this to 2013, a warm/hot summer with rains during harvest (but obviously not the amount of rain or picking pressure as 2013). Alcohols are lower, pHs and TAs look pretty solid. Things really cooled down over the last couple of weeks, rarely going into the 70s with several nights going into the 30s. Steady rains in the foreseeable future.

Based on the Instagram/Twitter accounts I follow, the more "traditional" producers seem pretty stoked about 2017.
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#568 Post by Jim Hartten » October 18th, 2017, 2:01 pm

Casey, good to hear that the 2017 harvest worked out pretty well up your way - enjoyed seeing photos of the end of harvest Taco Truck working up some fine food for the pickers? Btw, just saw an early weather report about another massive weather system in the Pacific that may be headed your way with a lot of moisture - so one growing season comes to an end as the next one begins...Best wishes to all who have experienced losses due to the recent fires. [cheers.gif]

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#569 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 18th, 2017, 6:40 pm

Nice to hear from you Jim. Harvest number 38 I kind of think I'm starting to figure this shit out!

No reason to think some absolutely stellar wines will not be made from our area from 2017. Lots of the Pinot really looked great even the lots at lower sugars during the heat. The sparkling guys got the worst of it as many lots got past them on sugar levels. Our stuff was fine but I know of other lots that got away from folks. I think Chard from Anderson Valley could be great this year. Its crazy when people find out that Chard is one of the last things picked. The hang time really brings on good flavors and acids usually are quite good.

I'll be tracking many of my customers wines and will visit most of them in Feb/Mar to see how things are.

Cheers!
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#570 Post by Roy Piper » October 18th, 2017, 8:39 pm

Picked Houyi yesterday. Done with fruit picking.
Lab numbers are great...

25.4 brix
4.0 TA
3.73 pH

Bingo.

So glad it is in tank. Will still be 3-5 more days until smoke taint results come in. Hope I don't have much of, would be a shame to have to declassify this. The juice tastes great.
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#571 Post by T Klonoski » October 19th, 2017, 6:30 am

Casey Hartlip wrote: No reason to think some absolutely stellar wines will be made from our area from 2017.
I think you might want to edit in a "not" there, Casey.
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#572 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 19th, 2017, 9:03 am

T Klonoski wrote:
Casey Hartlip wrote: No reason to think some absolutely stellar wines will be made from our area from 2017.
I think you might want to edit in a "not" there, Casey.
Thank you sir!
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#573 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 19th, 2017, 10:27 am

Roy Piper wrote:Picked Houyi yesterday. Done with fruit picking.
Lab numbers are great...

25.4 brix
4.0 TA
3.73 pH

Bingo.

So glad it is in tank. Will still be 3-5 more days until smoke taint results come in. Hope I don't have much of, would be a shame to have to declassify this. The juice tastes great.
Excellent, Roy! Those numbers look good. 25.4B can make a really good wine.
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#574 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 19th, 2017, 11:00 am

Here in Calistoga we have a very cool morning, with some cloudiness. But Diamond Mountain is visible for now, which it has not been, due to the smoke. I see smoke hung up over the mountains, mixed with the clouds.

My vines have turned about 50% yellow, with the remainder green, still. Looking out from the second floor, there are plenty of vines that have turned gorgeous shades of red. I understand that is an indicator of disease, but I think those vines can produce in that condition for some time.
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#575 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 19th, 2017, 5:04 pm

It is now raining, very lightly, here in Calistoga. One would expect it to be refreshing, and perhaps if it intensifies, it will turn that way, but right now it smells like someone put water on the ashtray, to put the cigarette out.
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#576 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 20th, 2017, 6:39 am

I was expecting less than a quarter of an inch from this storm but got 3 times that. Had some pretty good winds too. Can't wait to get out there and soak up the feeling of Fall.
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#577 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 20th, 2017, 8:43 am

We did not get much rain here. It rained, and it is better than nothing, but not to the point of puddles, or anything.
Cold this morning - I had to put the heat on so I could work!
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#578 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 24th, 2017, 1:33 pm

Yesterday the temperature reached 92 degrees and hung there for quite awhile. It stayed very warm overnight, and now at 1:00 p.m. it is 94 degrees on my shaded deck at the house. Hotter in the vineyard.

A trip to St. Helena this morning - a 10 mile drive - showed many trucks still hauling fruit in numerous macro bins. But I did not see any fruit still hanging on the vine. Saturday's trip over the mountain to Santa Rosa showed the same. For those familiar with the routes from Calistoga to Santa Rosa, Mark West is still closed. Petrified Forest Road to Calistoga Road reopened on Friday. Those are narrow winding roads: when you encounter big trucks on those roads, it can you make you hold your breath.

Diamond Mountain, visible from my home/vineyard, is so clear and bright today that it hurts my eyes to look at it!
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#579 Post by Roy Piper » October 25th, 2017, 5:27 pm

92F today. After tomorrow cools off, probably for good, for 2017.

My Houyi is at 2.7 brix and moving fast.
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#580 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 25th, 2017, 5:47 pm

Roy Piper wrote:92F today. After tomorrow cools off, probably for good, for 2017.

My Houyi is at 2.7 brix and moving fast.
Go, go, Piper Houyi: "Down To Zero" (Joan Armatrading). And of course, below zero.

They had to go to barrel at the winery without me. I could not be there. I'll check in next week - I selected the barrels long ago. Will make changes as necessary.

Let me know, Roy, if you need anything.
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#581 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 30th, 2017, 12:10 pm

It is a raw, chilly 55 degrees out there. I have not left my property much for 2 weeks, but I did just go to St. Helena and got to see that part of the Valley again. Our typical colors for this time of year are not there, but Napa Valley is still beautiful! And empty. I saw a few vines of fruit hanging.

Many of the hotels are extending special pricing post-fire. Solage, for one. It is a great time to visit. There is a sadness, yes, but also a great sense of community and sharing. I have never hugged or cried with so many people I have never known. And we carry on.

People want to know what is next, now that harvest is over. Working the soil; planting cover crops to control soil erosion from winter rains. Cover crops also add nutrients to the soil in the spring when we mow and disk them into the soil.

Next will be pruning the vines back, once they go dormant. January/February time frame. And a new life-cycle will commence, as we move from budbreak to leafing out to fruit formation and on. Again. Because that is what we do.
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#582 Post by R M Kriete » October 30th, 2017, 1:07 pm

Merrill Lindquist wrote: People want to know what is next, now that harvest is over.
Pray for winter rain? [wink.gif]

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#583 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 30th, 2017, 1:23 pm

R M Kriete wrote:
Merrill Lindquist wrote: People want to know what is next, now that harvest is over.
Pray for winter rain? [wink.gif]
Not until the cover crop is in the ground. Water is great for new seed. Tractors prefer dry soil.

And personally, I am not quite ready for rain. Just got the gutters and roof cleared yesterday from debris from the storm. Still need to have a chimney check - those winds were 60 plus miles per hour, and everything took a beating.

And yes, the well is running on empty. The refill to the holding tank and onward is very slow. I saw a water truck out locally a few hours ago, going to fill someone's water tank. For those unfamiliar with life with water from a well, the well pumps underground to the holding tank, and then the booster pump pushes that water from the holding tank (mine holds 3500 gallons) out to the vineyard, the yard irrigation, or the house (shower, dishwasher, you get it). Because we have a dry season with no groundwater filling the well, things get tight this time of year. Just part of our cycle, here. When I lived in Boston, the worry was more often how the rains would ruin an outdoor activity. We don't have "rain dates" here.
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#584 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 30th, 2017, 7:59 pm

On my way back from my Colorado elk hunt. Of our party of 6 four guys got nice bulls. Unfortunately me and my buddy were the other two hunters. Still had a great time traveling the western US. Wish I could have brought home some meat. Nice pic of the meat pole.
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#585 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 2nd, 2017, 10:18 am

Back to the fray. I've got a crew removing a three and a half acre field of old virused Chard. Doing this one low tech: Wheel tractor and tool bar with two chains. We're able to do two rows at a time. We deep irrigated first and the vines are coming out great. Another crew hauling vines out on a trailer and separating the old steel stakes. I'm quite shocked how smoothly its all going. I digress, we had to roll up the six wires per row first before anything.
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#586 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 2nd, 2017, 11:47 am

Just now: SURPRISE! I was still in my...um...nightwear, working on orders and stuff. I heard a commotion outside, and there is a guy, sitting in his truck out near my vineyard (proximity to my home property is just yards away). I did not recognize him nor his personal truck. Okay....

I asked what was he doing? He answered, with a beautiful but strong accent, "Working!" I said, "For who?" He nodded to the street, and there was a Clark Vineyard Management truck, with the decal I know so well, ready to pull in and unload the seeder for the cover crop. I had not received word of this work schedule, but I am in! Go guys, and thank you for thinking of me before the rain that is supposed to come in later.

With all the stress of the weeks during the fire, and with so many crews behind schedule due to evacuations, I can't believe my good fortune that my tiny place found a place on the schedule. Sometimes things work out just right.
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#587 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 3rd, 2017, 6:41 pm

People often ask me what I plant in the rows between the vines. This year the blend is, from LeBallisters in Santa Rosa, about equal amounts of:

Magnus Peas
Bell Beans (Fava)
Barley
Common Vetch

It is exciting to see it when it emerges. Which might be soon, given that it is raining out there!
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#588 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 4th, 2017, 12:24 pm

We had very nice, steady-to-hard rain last night. Beautiful! At noon, just now, the sun is out and Diamond Mountain is clear, although there are some high clouds out there.

The vineyard still has at least 50% of its leaves, which is not atypical for this time of year. Some of the more exposed or younger vineyards are nearly bare, but not here. My signature photo for my place, named "Both Feet Off The Ground," was taken of my daughter in 2004 during the first week of November. It looks about the same out there, right now.
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#589 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 5th, 2017, 6:13 am

A chilly morning in the high thirties, with frost on the roof outside my window. My water tank (3500 gallons) is full for the first time in over 6 months - that is a welcome sign. Looks like we will have a couple of days of sun before a few days of rain.
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#590 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 8th, 2017, 6:02 am

28 in Boonville yesterday.

Even though I went goofing around in Colorado for a week the crew kept at it.

The 9 acre field we pulled two years ago finally got cross ripped, disced and ring rolled. Its now ready for layout. The other Chard field we pulled low tech (sorry no pics) is now shallow ripped and disced. We'll get some cover drilled in there in between storms.
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The cover crop in all the other fields now is starting to kick!
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#591 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 9th, 2017, 10:09 am

We received a nice rainfall late yesterday and overnight. Much appreciated - we will be green in no time!

The sun is out and it is a beautiful day...still very quiet up here.
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#592 Post by John Cabot » November 11th, 2017, 2:15 am

What are you putting in the new 9 acre block Casey?
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#593 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 11th, 2017, 1:05 pm

Still thinking about it John. Sorry to disappoint but it's likely to be more Chard. I've just got SO much Pinot and we're finding a market for AV Chard. It gets great hang time most years but still keeps it's acid. Riesling is another thought.
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#594 Post by Stewart Johnson » November 11th, 2017, 10:19 pm

During the Labor Day heat, I irrigated nearly continuously to get thru it. That went well enough, but it took almost all the water I had in the pond. I really wasn't able to give the vines the post-harvest soak that I would have liked in order to sustain the canopy thru a longer period of carb storage. I felt very guilty yesterday leaving my nearly denuded vineyard and driving thru Carneros where all the canopies were still going relatively strong. In my case, I think that the effect of the heat blast may stretch into next year just because I wasn't able to put the vines to bed as happy as I would have liked.
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#595 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 12th, 2017, 9:37 am

I hear your concern/frustration. I did not have enough water to put mine to bed, either, and I usually give them the final feeding of fish emulsion. I still have at least 50% of the canopy on there or more. Perhaps now that I have water, I'll give them 10 gallons of fish. They are not at the edge of dormancy yet. What do you think, Stewart?
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#596 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 12th, 2017, 9:37 am

Stewart,

Don't beat yourself up too much. I've seen plenty of crazy things over the years. I've had fields of Zin get bad mite infestations after harvest, lose their leaves and not have any post harvest water and yet come back the following year just fine. Grapevines are an amazing plant.
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#597 Post by Stewart Johnson » November 12th, 2017, 9:23 pm

Merrill Lindquist wrote:I hear your concern/frustration. I did not have enough water to put mine to bed, either, and I usually give them the final feeding of fish emulsion. I still have at least 50% of the canopy on there or more. Perhaps now that I have water, I'll give them 10 gallons of fish. They are not at the edge of dormancy yet. What do you think, Stewart?
I suspect that by 50% leaf fall, the window for nutrient uptake (and maybe for significant photosynthesis) has closed. I'd save it for next spring. And let's both take heart in Casey's advice and rest easy between now and then.
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#598 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 12th, 2017, 9:57 pm

Stewart Johnson wrote:
Merrill Lindquist wrote:I hear your concern/frustration. I did not have enough water to put mine to bed, either, and I usually give them the final feeding of fish emulsion. I still have at least 50% of the canopy on there or more. Perhaps now that I have water, I'll give them 10 gallons of fish. They are not at the edge of dormancy yet. What do you think, Stewart?
I suspect that by 50% leaf fall, the window for nutrient uptake (and maybe for significant photosynthesis) has closed. I'd save it for next spring. And let's both take heart in Casey's advice and rest easy between now and then.
But my thought is that it can't hurt, and if (in these times) we can rid ourselves of any guilt, 10 gallons of fish are not going to hurt?
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#599 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 14th, 2017, 5:20 pm

We have a flash flood warning in effect in Napa County for late tomorrow through Thursday.

My cover, both planted in the vineyard and naturally occurring in the yard, will hopefully protect against "too much" water.

I realized today that with the crazy harvest/fire/post-harvest period that we experienced, somehow we missed compost application.
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#600 Post by Roy Piper » November 15th, 2017, 8:56 am

I've been in barrel with Moulds for 3 weeks and have already finished malo, without inoculation. Probably the earliest malo I've ever experienced. Houyi went to barrel a few days ago and is already 1/2 way through malo. Taint numbers came in 1/3 of perceptible level for Houyi and 1/10th perceptible on Moulds, which was pre-fire. Wines taste great. Lowest natural alcohol for a good vintage of my wine, since I moved here. Final alcohol 14.5%, with zero water ads at all. Very, very happy. Just was hell to get to here.
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