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September 01, 2009


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(According to Rich Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Raphael in Peconic “Fruit set on most of our vineyard blocks was down by 25-30%. Bear in mind though that with a 100% fruit set we need to drop anywhere from 25-50% of our fruit during the summer anyway. We'll be right in our usual realm of 2 - 2.5 tons per acre)

However, you don't get to decide which clusters to cut/drop in a year like this. Which brings us back to the quality again. Does this make sense?


That's a very good and fair point and not one that can be discounted.

The fact remains though, that in some places, the vines are "used" to these lower crop loads and have ripened them in the past, with pretty solid consistency.

Perhaps Rich, who reads this blog, can respond better.

Sure. Suzanne that is a good question. The task of thinning fruit is not an exact science. In most years we strive for uniformity in the vines so we can accomplish tasks in the vineyard more easily. You're right that we don't get to choose all the time and this year is even more of a hodgepodge. We have some vines that could use more fruit, some that have just enough and others that have too much fruit and are in need of intense thinning. The bottom line is that we have to approach every vine indiviudally which makes it a more intelligent task this year, however we are still looking at less labor costs for thinning this year than in years where the vines are uniformly over-set. In those years it is an easier job but as every single vine has to be handled, it takes more time.

Do we get to select exactly where each cluster remains? - not really but we can come pretty close. Its important that clusters are not overlapping each other and that they have good air circulation. The quality issue is always the most important factor and that is ultimately going to be determined by the weather for the next 2 months. Quality winemaking is never about how much wine you can make but about how good you can make your wine. I'm very optimistic that the season will end well. As they say in sports - we're due...;-)

Thanks. I wish everyone a sunny, warm September and a great harvest.

Those are some fine looking vines.

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