Jason Joyce
 
May 13, 2011 | The Vineyard | Jason Joyce

Thin Out The Suckers

    The vineyard is safely into vegetative growth mode and it's time for our next crop control measure.  This time, all those excess buds that escaped pruning day need to get taken care of.  Although the pruned vine looks all clean trim, a couple weeks of shoot growth tells a different story.

     And the whole vineyard looks like that. Luckily when the shoots are young and fragile, they are easy to just knock off.  So a haircut is quick and painless and you are left with a beautiful little Syrah vine all ready to start making grapes.

    One interesting thing you notice this time of year is the proof you are dealing with a clone grafted onto a root stock and not just a wild vine.  The root stock puts out shoots as well.  You will see these shoots coming up from the ground that are a completely different species than the Syrah you are hoping to harvest.  First, here is a nice close up of a shoot that grew from the cordon, in this case Estrella Clone Syrah.

   Classic Syrah leaf there, about the size of a typical human paw.  Now take a look at what comes creeping out of the 1103 Paulsen rootstock.

   For one, the leaf is totally different in shape.  But to me, the most drastic difference is the red color of the shoot itself.  The first time I walked through a vineyard, I had no idea about the whole rootstock and scion thing going on.  So I was a bit shocked at this red chard looking thing bursting out of the vine.  This time of year always reminds me of that first vineyard experience, and I hope to never lose that excitement about discovering new things about wine. 

    As a final little treat, here is the first look at the 2011 crop.  Yes, the Syrah inflorescence.

   In a week or two, these little guys will pop open and reveal the beautiful grape flower.  Once pollinated, these become the grapes.  Sure, it's no peach orchard or anything, but it's what the grape farmer gets, and we like it.  I'll take a picture of it when it happens, and we can all enjoy the splendor of flowering. 

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