The rootstock is unknown; it was whatever the nursery had in at the time. Paul's guess was St. George since that was popular then, though the leaves don't seem to match.
|View of Chaine d'Or vineyard looking south. Morning fog burning off the mountains.|
As you can see by the first picture, left untouched the vines will grow in all directions and their tendrils will wrap around those of vines in the next row, making passage difficult. This also provides an environment where powdery mildew can proliferate. Once tucking is complete the vines can be treated by spraying with organic sulphur.
|Finished rows of vines. Workers and tractors can move easily between the rows.|
|Suckers are shoots emanating from the base of the plant.|
In this case the sucker is coming from below the graft,
so the leaves are those of the original rootstock (left).
Compare size and shape that of the grafted Chardonnay.
The job was straightforward; feed the flexible shoots under the two sets of catch wires and point them at the upper wire. The shoots are flexible and rarely break by accident, unlike the brittle stems of many garden plants like tomatoes. It all seems very simple and relaxing; just you, the vines, a nice warm day and the constant scream of motorcycles tearing up and down Skyline; it sounded more like Laguna Seca than sleepy Woodside. The work doesn't seem particularly strenuous, but I certainly noticed the effects in my back and shoulders later that evening!
The vines were on the whole looking healthy; most of them are over 20 years old and a few are showing signs of common diseases, such as shoots with red, shriveled leaves.
|Cabernet Sauvignon is a later maturing grape, |
so it was largely unaffected by the weather;
the clusters looked to be in much better shape.
It may surprise some of you to know that this year's crop is not determined by the weather at the time of flowering (though obviously that can have an effect) but by the weather the previous spring. That's when the buds which would produce this year's crop developed. Spring 2010 was particularly cold, with lots of late frost, and it's likely that Chardonnay yields across the state will be significantly lower in 2011.
We called a halt at around 2PM after a good 4 hours of work. We still hadn't quite finished; there were a few rows left, but Paul's day crew would take care of them the following morning.
Overall it was an enjoyable way to spend a summer morning, but for a deskbound computer geek like me it's hard to imagine doing this on a daily basis. The next time you look at a neatly manicured vineyard remember that it doesn't get that way by itself; spare a thought for the humble labourers, and raise a glass to them.