By: dgcarticle

Vineyard managers work to handle grapevines to get the most from the sun.

Cultivating grapes is a battle with the sun. For grapes, excessive or too little sunshine can be an obstacle. Throughout the developing season, the vineyard manager develops a love-hate relationship with the sun and must manage the vines to get the most from its energy, while still guarding the grapes from its potentially harmful rays.

In April when the vines start growing out new shoots, the vineyard managers are just mounting their dance with the sun. Workers cautiously select which shoots are allowed to remain and which must be sacrificed to open the plant up for just the right amount of sun to embrase the baby grapes. This method permits the berries to acquire a constant dose of filtered sunlight through the maturing season. It is almost like a visitor going to the beach at the end of summer and getting sunburned as compared to the local resident who has slowly been tanning throughout the summer season. The possibility is if the grape grower waits too long to cut off or cut back the extra shoots, the grapes have a higher chance of becoming sunburned when the sun gets more concentrated farther into the season. This sunburned can actually be discovered in the wine's flavor once produced, reducing fruitiness and adding “cooked” characteristics.

As the grapes continue to ripen, the vineyard manager and winemaker will monitor the sugar concentration and pH (a measure of acid balance) of the juice to decide the choicest time to harvest. For many winegrowing regions, especially in Northern Europe, it can be hard to get all the sun required during the grape growing season for the grapes to become of age. Temecula wineries in sunny Southern California typically do not have this problem because of the warm weather and relatively constantly sunny days. Temecula wineries can sometimes have a completely different problem; excessive sun all at once. Heat waves are hard on grapes and as the climate reaches 100 degrees, grapevines close down in order to cut back on internal water stores. This can be bad for the winemaker because the vines could stop ripening before the grape is completely ripe. The grapes may also begin to lose water and raisin.

Zinfandel is a variety commonly influenced by this issue since the grape is thin-skinned, slow to completely ripen, and relies on a long growing season with consistent warm weather. This is when the battle with sun sets in. The winemaker needs to gather the grape when the sugar levels are adequate and the pH levels appropriate. When the vineyards are struck with a heat wave earlier than the grapes are completely ready the sugars will increase, but the seeds inside may still be green and the pH levels not yet high enough. A grape with high sugar without the suitable pH levels can end up bearing a wine that tastes “green” and may be tart. On the other hand, when the heat wave decreases, the sugar percentage can go back down as the fruit rehydrates and you could end up with a grape that is not sweet enough.

Vineyard managers can help battle the heat wave by cutting back the new shoots early in the season, not over-cropping the vines, keeping the grapes well-watered during the high temperatures to prevent raisining, and carefully monitoring the grapes as harvest drawing near with a crew waiting close at hand to snatch up the grapes at the perfect moment.

Wiens Family Cellars is dedicated to bearing world class “big red” wines with fruit born from the Temecula Valley . One of our most {valuable existing goals is to yield a Bordeaux blend that is an equal to the best of the Napa/Sonoma regions. Doug Wiens trusts their 2007 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, some lots already sold out and others still aging in the cellar, will prove that Temecula can produce luxury reds among the highest flavor in California . At the 2009 California State Fair Wine Competition, the Wiens Family Cellars 2007 Temecula Valley Refugio Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded a gold medal and Best-of-Class for the South Coast Appellation.

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Suzanne Schaffner is the marketing manager of Wines Family Cellars Winery in the Temecula CA wine country. They have the most outstanding Big Red Wines of the Temecula Wineries. You can find Wiens new web site at WiensCellars.com and at Temecula-Wineries.net.

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