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A somewhat chill wind has blown into the shire, blessing my outside work with cooling relief. In the run-up to summer, I’ve set up a perpetual squint, despite hat- brim shading. The light has acquired a heated white resonance and the country is drying out. I can feel it on my bare feet and see it in how the grasses have dulled into gray brown and the leaves of the trees have dialed back from vibrant green to a taupe gray green. Heat radiates in visible waves off every object. My perspiration seems to disappear as it’s created. And it’s not even summer. This cool breeze is my nectar.

The vines respond happily to these conditions. Fresh tendrils reach for the sky. Baby new leaves arrive daily. There’s flowering throughout the vineyard and the bees are throbbing through in a lovely trance. There’s a vibrancy that lifts my mood, feeds my hope.

I’m plucking leaves to open up the dense foliage to light and air circulation. I’m aiming to slant some sunlight into the grape clusters. This will reduce the possibility of mildew arising. Light and moving dry air is the enemy of fungus. With the Chardonnay, my intention is to create dappled light, to give partial bunch shading. Chardonnay is a sensitive thin-skinned grape and subject to sunburn, which can lead to “jammy” and other off flavors. Full exposure is undesirable, so I’m only plucking the occasional leaf.

The Cabernet however, can handle more sunlight and I’m a bit more thorough in opening up the canopy to bring in light and air.  At the same time, I’m inspecting for any sign of disease or damage and have thankfully found none. So far we have a perfectly healthy crop growing beautifully in terrific balance. Everywhere in the vineyard I’m encountering ladybugs and spiders and beneficial insects. All leaves are intact and vibrantly green. And the fruit set looks to be tremendous.  

Could this possibly be another terrific vintage?

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