Thanks to Scott McLeod's spring prediction that 2007 would be a banner year, I’ve paid more attention to the grape set in California than ever before.
McLeod's forecast seems to be right on target, so far. In the past week, I’ve talked with many winemakers and vineyard managers about this year’s grape set, and everyone is happy with the size and shape of the infant clusters.
The growing season in Rutherford “is absolutely beautiful,” McLeod said this week. “If winemakers are not excited about this year, then they need to get outside more often,” he joked.
“The grape set is normal to above normal, meaning that we will have more than enough clusters to select only the best,” he said. “Thinning will be required, which is good. You always want to start with more and thin back to ideal target crop levels.”
Spring weather has been mild, a shade cooler than normal, he added. Soils are very dry, as expected, and temperatures reached 100 degrees F in Napa Valley yesterday and were close to 90 in Sebastopol, in Sonoma County, on Tuesday.
“This is really our first week of warm weather and it is only in the low 90s. Again, couldn't be better,” McLeod said. “We'll see how our dry-farmed Zin [for Edizione Pennino] and Cab do with the low moisture levels. But we suckered [removed unnecessary growth] very early, as you would expect in a low water year. Should be enough water in the soil to get to traditional ripeness levels of 22 Brix. Beyond that, they may get too dry.”
Some winemakers will already start thinning the crop and counting clusters, which will give them an idea of what to expect in tonnage. Others will follow soon.
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