Okay, so what do Wall Street and Cerro Prieto have to do with graft? Well, Wall Street graft is best defined by Bernie Maddoff, and those cut from the same cloth. Cerro Prieto and grafts...yes, in the plural...is happening as of this writing. We had one last acre of Cabernet Sauvignon that just couldn't ripen due to our cold valley climate, so after 9 yrs of dropping most, if not all of the fruit, we finally grafted over to cold weather Sauvignon Blanc. Actually, we have had 5 vines of Sauv Blanc growing amidst our Cab Sauv, and they have done famously, so the decision was not that difficult. All our mountain Cab is going gangbusters at present, now into its second or third day of bloom. That pretty well fits the bud break(March 21st) + 60 days for bloom. Due to the 200 ft elevation differences in our mountain and valley vineyards, bloom will mostly start now but some will string along for the next several weeks.
This yr we are not thinning the Cab nor Merlot until after fruit set, which should be about 3 weeks from now. It was exactly on this day last yr that the temps went to 115 degrees, right in the heart of bloom, and all unopened flowers literally "cooked off", or more accurately, just exploded off the shoots. This yr we had a hot Paso Robles Wine Fest, followed by cool days, ideal for fruit set. Nonetheless, this yr we waited to thin based upon whether that one day of massive heat comes thru and wipes out all unopened flowers. If we are okay, and don't get that incredible heat, then it just makes thinning more difficult, with all the very long shoots. Better this way than thinning early, however, as last yr's early thinning cut our yield by 50% due to excessive heat spikes.
So grafting here is unrelated to Wall Street graft, yet they somehow have the same root word. Strange, no? In any event, we are looking forward to a successful Sauv Blanc harvest in 2 yrs, and will no longer be dropping Cab Sauv that just requires more heat. The mountain vineyard Cab is doing famously , thank you, as is the Syrah. Both look like they are headed for a good yr, and Lord knows, we need it. Other than that, we continue to replace hard rubber riser hoses, eaten thru and thru by gophers. No question this is a banner yr for gophers, and we certainly have them. Trapping has been necessary on a daily basis, which just takes us away from other vineyard chores that need to be done. Here's to a great 2009... may our clusters not get fried, nor our new grafts frozen, may our grapes all set, and may our wines be superb. That would make it good for grower, vintner, and consumer, all. May the vagaries of farming pass us by this yr...last yr was punishment enough, tho the wines produced will be marvelous. Salud!