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Vineyard journal, May 2022: shoots and leaves

Last month, vines were waking up, stretching their little beginnings of shoots skywards to the warming sun.  Though they start small, these shoots move fast.  Each of them can grow an inch every day, sprouting new leaves all the while.  This troupe of green shoots and leaves is known as the canopy, and requires careful tending.  By now, healthy vineyards are seas of fresh green growth waving in the breeze.

Ideally, vines will grow sugar-generating canopy through fruit set next month, then transition their energy into the development and ripening of grapes.  Good farmers guide their vines towards delicious fruit like a good coach by keeping them fit and on-schedule.  This is training time.

Good farmers know their vines well, and begin with the weakest parcels, stripping unproductive shoots to focus each vines’ energy on their fruit-bearing vegetation.  Meanwhile, vigorous vines blow off steam by indulging in excess vegetative growth before it’s culled.  On both ends of the spectrum, the goal is balance.  

If vines struggle too much before they fruit, they burn out and their wines become dull, bitter, and ungenerous.  If vines have it too easy, their crowded growth attracts disease, and their wines taste lazy, immature, and insipid.  It’s not easy to strike a balance with every individual vine, and the stakes are high, but good farmers are up to the task.  When vines are coached to that perfect middle ground, their fruit is healthy and balanced, ripe but not boozy, with refreshing acidity and lively minerality–like your selections!  A vine’s fitness now will determine how their fruit will fare in the summer marathon of ripening.

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