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2023 on the Vine; a Year of Give and Take

 

Vineyard photo at the end of rows. Focus is on the wood end posts as they repeat into the distance

 

 

On the Malivoire acreage the current growing year has been a bit of a bumper-car ride.  The year has been characterized by unanticipated obstacles and changes in course, while remaining within the known boundaries.  It seems, from almost every aspect of vineyard management, the elements of 2023 did grant us some things, but they came at a cost. 

Heat and sunshine: The “give” was a warm, sunny spring that spurred growth to an early start.  There were thoughts of an early harvest, but Nature took its foot off the pedal in mid-summer and cloudy, rainy spells ate up the advantage. 

Rain: A “give” to our considerable new plantings.  Young vines have shallow roots that make them vulnerable to dehydration.  Regular rainfall kept the young roots happy and spared us the need to irrigate.  The “take”?  Rain means more work; more vigilance against disease and more thinning of shoots and leaves as grape vines grow more aggressively after rain.  Unfortunately, too, so do the grasses and weeds between vineyard rows.  They needed more frequent mowing, and tractors moved more slowly on wet ground. 

Vine health: Good.  We began the growing cycle without winter damage and with the investment of some extra care, we’re finishing summer without worrying disease. 

Yield: More than 2022, less than 2021.  What else would we expect? 

In sum: Currently we’re only a little behind an average timeline and we expect to be harvesting in the coming weeks.  Beginning with the grapes for sparkling wines, we’ll pick next for rosés, then pinot gris, chardonnay, gamay and so on, until we finish with merlot and cabernet sauvignon for the Stouck reds.   September and October weather will decide how fast.  Usually, we like to wrap up picking around Thanksgiving but, because of the later start, our last fruit won’t likely be destemmed before the end of October.