The strong winds blowing across Gene Glaeser’s 60 acres of vineyards near Davis, Calif., May 17 were a welcome development.
He was hoping they would continue long enough to dry out his vines. This was after yet another spell of wet spring weather had moved in over the weekend, including a hailstorm May 15. Fortunately, the hail didn’t cause any economic loss.
This spring’s cool, rainy weather has set growth of Glaeser Vineyards grape crop behind about two weeks. At mid-May, his Chardonnay vines were just beginning to bloom. Next to follow are Syrah, then Tannat, the last of his three varieties to flower.
“With the constant wet weather patterns, the real concern is botrytis,” he says. “If the disease gets on the flowers it would sterilize them. I’ve never had it before, but growers in this area have been warned about the possibility for it this year. We want to see the air keep moving to dry things out and prevent the disease.”
Downy mildew is another concern. “I haven’t seen it here,” he says. “But, with these conditions it’s always a threat. The disease pressure can get pretty high.”
Glaeser continues weekly sulfur applications to control powdery mildew and has just finished shoot thinning. He’s doing that a little earlier in the season than usual in order to encourage development of stronger canes. He will start start pulling leaves the fourth week of May to open up at the canopy.
As he manages growth of this year’s crop, he’s also wrapping up the last of his 2011 sales.
“I’m still looking for a home for some of the Syrah,” Glaeser says. “Everything else is sold, some on multi-year contracts and a few on contracts made this past winter. For the most part, prices are creeping up.”