From the continuing vineyard chapters from our own winemaker, Adam Kubrock…

Spring in Marlborough is coming to a close as the weather warms up and the sun really starts spreading its energy around. It has been a remarkably wet and cool season so the light and heat is most welcome. The vine canopies are above the first wire now and big spurts of growth can be visibly seen right after a good rain. All around the valley it’s an exciting time and a somewhat nervous time as well. It’s flowering time! Many of you may be quite surprised to learn that grape vines actually flower. But they do – and the smell is absolutely incredible. The green florets start to open up and long, thin white flowers appear. The air is filled with a completely ethereal scent – hints of lavender, citrus blossom, white pepper and lily fill the wind. It’s the smell of vine romance and has been written about for thousands of years – even back to the biblical times of Solomon.

Now the science-y side of things.

Each sub region of Marlborough and each variety has a different flowering time. Most of the area is in the middle of flowering now but our Hillersden vineyards are just starting. Pinot Gris and Riesling are moments away followed closely by Pinot Noir. The Sauvignon Blanc still looks like it might have another week to 10 days before it begins to flower. And so the heady scented air is also filled with some trepidation. The size and quality of this year’s crop will be determined by the uncontrollable and unpredictable weather conditions of the next two weeks. Cool and wet weather can lead to poor pollination of those flowers resulting an in intermittent fruit set. Poor fruit set would mean trouble for our Pinot Noir but it’s not always such a bad thing for Sauvignon Blanc. In 2013 Marlborough experienced a poor fruit set on Sauvignon Blanc due to cold weather at flowering.

A lot of berries were smaller and undeveloped. Although yields were low the small berries were loaded with acid and some serious Savvy flavor. This condition is called Millerandrage or Hen and Chick or even Shot Berries. Given that our regional tank capacity has been reduced 25% due to the recent earthquakes a bit of hen and chick for our Sauvignon Blanc might be a very welcome thing for 2017.

At any rate, there is not a whole lot we can control at this stage. We continue to work the vines each day making sure the mood is all set for this chapter of vineyard romance. Now if you’ll excuse me I have some air to sniff and perhaps a candle or two to light…

If you’d like to know a bit more, you can find it over on Wine Folly >