Sure enough, I saw a ton of grape flowers - more in the warmer, earlier sites, but flowers in every vineyard - which surprised me a bit. Why? Because flowering normally doesn't really happen until the middle of June, and in the past three years we've been one to three weeks later than that. I know it's been warmer than average this spring, but lately one can't help but wonder if every year isn't going to have flowering on the 4th of July instead of around Father's Day. Or much earlier as we're seeing this year.
So what's the big deal about that? While there's still a long way to go this summer, once you get to the peak of flowering - and we were there in at least one of my sites - you can estimate harvest being 100 to 110 days later. That means picking at the earliest sites could be in late September, something I haven't done since 2007, 2006 and 2005 (not to equate those vintages qualitatively - just in terms of picking time).
That's sure different from our October 20 harvest kick off in 2011, and that was earlier than many local producers. We really were weeks behind the norm that year, but luckily things worked out. This year I imagine we'll be long done picking by that point, as we were in '07, '06 and '05. The good news there - the chance of perfect harvest weather is much, much more likely in late September under potentially summer conditions rather than in late October where one typically things of trick or treating in the rain, crafty kid costumes unfortunately covered by raincoats and umbrellas.
Overall, things looked great this day at all my sites. I'll post shots from Armstrong Vineyard on Ribbon Ridge here, then more from the Eola Hills sites next time. Soon, I hope.
To start, the lovely early morning view from the 667 block of Armstrong vineyard, looking south toward the backside of the famous Dundee Hills across the valley.