Listening to viticulture practices at Achaval-Ferrer today, I was staggered to hear how much fruit they actually drop before harvest. Without talking real numbers, I can say that they yield one bottle of wine from every three vines on the single vineyard malbecs.
Is it even possible to do that in Napa?
Rest of the globe included, who else is doing this and to what extent?
Is it possible to cut clusters off a vine? I believe it is. It requires some equipment such as shears, though.
We yield about a bottle per vine. 2008 was less. Green dropping is far from uncommon. It can be argued that dropping fruit just prior to harvest is pissing in the wind, though. Better to do it as early as possible (at veraison is a good time).
But this is meaningless without the real numbers? For example, if vines are spaced 3’ x 3’ (dense), that’s ~4,800 vines/ac = 1,600 btls/ac = 133 cs/ac = 316 gal/ac = ~2.1 - 2.4 T/ac depending on juice yields. Not extravagantly low yields.
Mark - talking to TRB at Outpost one day about the 05 harvest in the Grenache vineyard on the property, he said it looked like a blood bath. They dropped so much fruit to ensure the remaining fruit would ripen they almost cried…
It’s done, I’ve seen it done closer to veraison finishing. Anything that hasn’t colored up at that point, gets dropped.
In fact, in an episode of Wine TV with Gary Pisoni he said the same thing…
We drop fruit three separate times during the growing season. First, If the shoots are a little week for the two or three clusters on them, we will take one or two of them off, before bloom. This will allow the shoot to grow more vigorously and be able to easlily ripen what is left. At 80% color, during verasion, we go through and drop any clusters that are lagging, or a certain percentage on plants that appear to have more fruit than the canopy can handle, again, in the instance of weaker vines/sections. It’s all about balance. Then, days before harvest we will go through and drop any clusters that are sunburned, or pull off any lagging or burned berries. Having small vineyards makes this possible.