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Grape Broker Updates

Written by Erica Moyer
Monterey/San Benito

Warm spring temperatures and spring showers are a making for happy vines but canopy growth does not equal more clusters.  The cluster counts are a reflection of last spring where cooler, grey weather dominated the spring for an extended period of time.  These factors are not optimal conditions for fruitful bud differentiation.  The result, mostly single clusters, blank shoots and very few doubles.  As Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were going through bloom, there was a week of strong winds.  Hopefully, 2016 will have a better set than 2015.


Vines are happy everywhere!  Sunshine, warm temperatures, followed by a few showers and maybe a hail storm, or two.  No hail or frost damage has been reported as of yet but the impact of the showers during bloom for crop set is yet to be determined.  Crop size and bunch counts depend on the age of the vineyard.  Newer plantings are feeling their youth, lots of clusters moving through bloom.  Where older vineyards are struggling with an average crop, mostly singles and a few doubles.  We are seeing some elongated clusters with wings, mostly on the younger blocks.

San Joaquin Valley

A few spring showers, along with warm temperatures make for good growing conditions and also the increased potential for powdery mildew.  There are no big surprises in crop size, large or small.  However, the spotty regional downpours may affect the set in some vineyards.  The younger vineyards have the horse power for a good crop and the older vineyards (if still in the ground) are trying to maintain an average size crop.

Written by Audra Cooper
Paso Robles

Although we are not overly excited in Paso Robles, we are pleased to see a potential for an average to maybe slightly above average crop if it sets and sizes for Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Merlot, and some of the other reds.  Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, however, do not look as solid.  That being said it is still very early and although we would like to forget just how light the 2015 crop was, it is still very fresh in our memories and this time last year we did not know it would be as light as it was.  Fingers crossed we get an average crop in Paso Robles; however, we still have bloom, set, and sizing to go.

Southern San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties

Despite starting off with some very early crop estimates at above average, we’ve had many growers, but not all of them, throttle back their estimates a touch on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  On Chardonnay specifically, there is a decent amount of singles.  As with any crop this time of year, it is still anyone’s guess.  At the moment there is concern regarding the weather patterns we are having and the effect it will have on bloom.  The Central Coast is no stranger to damaging winds this time of year. This week was certainly calmer than the previous two weeks, but May is often a windy month for our area.

Written by Mike Needham
North Coast

The 2016 vintage has started early again.  Bud break in all areas of the North Coast is near the same date as last year.  And for most growers 2015 was the earliest harvest they have ever experienced. The earlier varieties are anywhere from 15% to 50% bloom currently.  The current weather is not exactly what growers would hope for at bloom.  The North Coast has experienced unsettled weather patterns with showers and overcast days during the beginning of bloom.

The potential crop at this point seems to be very hit and miss, depending on where the vineyard is located and what variety you are growing.   Some vineyards have 2 clusters per shoot and some have single clusters or blanks.  Age of vine and cane vs. spur pruned vineyards, are showing differences in potential crop for 2016.  The short term outlook for weather is projecting warming up without wind, which will be a welcomed change.  Time will tell how the area fairs with set, as both wineries and growers are hoping for a more fruitful year.