by Vineyard Manager Paul Kaselionis
Where did the winter go? It seems like yesterday we were talking about a successful 2013 season. Since we finished harvesting, the crews have been busy. We have pruned all the vines, tied them to the stacks, and in some cases trained them along the fruiting wire. This season is the birth of our 2012 plantings. This will be the first crop we’ll harvest on these third leaf vines.
Rumors of budbreak have been trickling in since late January in the southern Central Coast. Santa Maria area has seen budbreak three weeks earlier than normal. At JUSTIN, we have just witnessed one of our earliest budbreaks in our 30 years of growing grapes in Paso Robles. Cabernet Franc and Orange Muscat are leading the way with other varieties close on their heels.
Coming off a successful harvest for the orange muscat, we felt it was time to give the old block some new life. We left the vines in, but everything else has been removed and upgraded. The end posts were replaced, new wires were installed, new vine stakes were pounded, 12” and 18” cross-arms were added above the fruiting zone. Last year, we removed the old cordons and began to retrain the vines to a head trained cane pruning system. This year, we rebuilt the support system to increase light and air penetration. We changed the original two wire California sprawl to a four wire Vertical Shoot Position (VSP) system with more of an enhanced umbrella shape. Orange Muscat clusters are large and need room to ripen. To make sure we have fewer clusters on top of each other, the vertical system allows them to spread out both vertically and horizontally. Thanks to all these improvements, the 2014 harvest should be one of the best on record for the orange muscat.
With winter pruning complete and bud break happening now, the vines will begin their rapid growth soon. Then, GAME ON for Harvest 2014!!