Farming is a risky business. You throw yourself at the mercy of weather patterns, bugs and global warming, and you have to play to win, otherwise you have no business playing at all. Personally, I think I would have better luck hitting the slots, which says a lot because I am not known for my winning streaks. (But that is why I write a blog, and Jim, Dustin and Junior are the ones that work the grape.)
As an estate grown winery our vintages are a direct result of the weather for the year, and it isn’t just temperature or rain fall that can affect a crop. Cloud cover, foggy nights, stink bugs, things that we often don’t see as problematic can be the downfall or the rise of a great or terrible vintage. When the grapes are young they are hard and green, often a lot stronger, but as with any other fruit, the more they ripen the more delicate they become. The skin gets thinner as they plump, and the sugars get higher making them a more enticing place for critters and disease to flourish.
So much of a good vintage stems from a good crop, and being on the ball with spraying, testing and having a balance of risk taking and patience are key components to beating the odds. Recently the office lunch chatter has gone from politics and hoagie swapping to harvest tactics. You could spend a lifetime researching how to predict a vintage. Cooler evenings create great flavor development, hot days and little rain intensify those flavors, low winds keep skin intact. Some things we have control over, some things we don’t, and spending every waking moment processing the potential weather conditions would make something bad, like a big rain storm on your crop, feel like the end of the world.
Though around here at the winery, we just always assume that whatever we prepare for, nature will likely do the opposite in a darkly humorous statement of authority. “You need some sunlight? Nope! I think I’ll rain for a week just to spite you all.” Thanks a lot, weather gods.
So it becomes a game. A bold and dicey roulette of decisions. It’s part of the thrill of farming frankly, a legacy of venturesome tasks we complete, trying to out do ourselves year after year, and here at Bellview, we play to win. So watch out weather gods, we’re coming for our grapes, and we plan on making some killer wine with them.