Dropping fruit

The last week of July will be remembered as the week of the big thunder/lightening storm. On Sunday it rained and thunder cracked just outside the house for a good hour and a half. My mother, who lives in Quogue on the south shore, said she got some hail.

Not here though (that would be bad.) The sun is back and vineyards workers at Bedell Cellars are busy pulling leaves and dropping fruit on the reds.

Donna Rudolph, assistant vineyards manager, says the winery has 10 workers out and figures they can clear the fruit zone of about two acres per day.

The goal of the exercise is to reduced the number of clusters, so the plant can concentrate on ripening less fruit, and to clear the leaves from around the clusters to improve air circulation, which discourages rot.

The workers are asked to drop any clusters on what Donna called the short shoots, which is anything above the first wire. They then leave 12 to 14 clusters per plant, which leaves the yield at about two and a half tons per acre.

Two weeks ago, leaves were pulled on the whites, from which they don’t drop fruit.

Donna expects all the leaf pulling and fruit dropping to take about 20 days. In the meantime, everyone’s is pretty happy with the weather. Donna said the last two storms have been early enough in the growing season to not affect the fruit, and gave the vines a little drink.

Seeing the green grapes on the ground and hearing them crunch under my feet reminded me of a story I heard from Elio Altare, the winemaker from Barolo. On a visit to Piedmont, we met him in a restaurant and he invited us to the winery, his home in La Morra. He said he was one of the first in the region to green harvest, and it so upset his father that it caused a rift. His father looked at the fruit on the ground and said, God gave that to you and you’re going to throw it away. ?


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