Vintage Update – August 2022
We’re roughly two months away from beginning the harvest for our ‘22 vintages, and the grapes are quickly swelling under the hot, late-summer sunshine.
Because of a weeklong 100-degree heat episode in July, harvest is likely to be delayed even further into October than previously anticipated. During extreme heats, vines pause grape development in an effort to ration their water usage. The elements — namely, rainfall, heat and sun exposure — will continue to influence the always-moving date for harvest to begin.
In the meantime, we’re nearing bunch closure in the Dundee Hills, the moment when individual grapes have grown enough to touch each other and close the gaps in each grape cluster. Prior to that, our vineyard teams are racing to complete their final powdery mildew prevention sprays before veraison, when the grapes have ripened enough to change color.
Once our growers see bunch closure, the lag phase will soon follow. During this time, the fruit doesn’t increase in size, and to the naked eye, it appears the vineyards have paused in their development. In reality, it’s quite the opposite. Up until lag, growth has been obvious: The vines have skyrocketed, leaves unfurled and grape clusters have grown swollen. Once lag commences the obvious progress will stagnate, though plenty is still happening beneath the skin of the berries. Namely, the seeds are beginning to mature and harden. When completed, this prompts veraison to commence.
Cliff Anderson, owner and winemaker at Anderson Family Vineyard, indicates lag phase is right around the corner in the Dundee Hills. “The internode length (the space on the stem between sets of leaves) on the vines is shortening, and that’s a major signal lag is approaching,” he explains.
As the wait for lag and veraison continues, the team at Torii Mor Vineyard & Winery is finishing up hedging and pulling leaves off the side of the vines receiving morning sun. They’ll eventually strip the leaves from the side with afternoon sun as well, but doing so prematurely results in a sunburned crop.
“At the end of the day, winemaking starts with farming,” says Jon Tomaselli, head winemaker at Torii Mor. “Before anything else can happen, you’re processing your own crop.”
Next month we’ll show veraison happening throughout our vineyards. Watching the grapes change in color from green to red, black and translucent is a spectacular moment winemakers around the world look forward to every year.
Photos by Mick Hangland-Skill