July vineyard update: new generations of grapes

The decent amount of rain we got in June helped our frost damaged vineyards grow quite a bit. Particularly the flowers we sowed in the baby vineyard. I let them grow high until the vines started becoming invisible to encourage their roots going down.

But at some point the green had to be cut or the vines would have vanished as July came with the summer drought we’re kind of getting used to now. We will loose some plants nonetheless – we didn’t water them again after planting – but it’s not that many and the survivors will grow strong next year. This vineyard became a happy place so quickly.

So what about the grapes? It was tremendously interesting to watch the dead vineyards recover.

First of all it hugely depended on the variety (as expected) if there was a new generation of grapes growing or not. Müller-Thurgau and Bacchus – nothing. But Silvaner, Riesling, Regent and the Pinots – there is something here and there. It will be tricky to pick though. It’s not one generation, it’s two, three, sometimes four generations of grapes in the same vineyard which will be ripe at different times, some might be too late to ripen at all. I envision October harvest to feel more like foraging than actually harvesting but we’re happy about every good grape we’ll get.

Another observation: on our major hill, the Eselsberg, the bottom was completely dead after the frost while we had decent green stubs with a few leaves (with dying grapes) still standing on the cane at the top of the hill. In some vineyards we left all the leaves, in some we cut back the stubs to a mini spur. It didn’t make any difference. All we got there was side shoots without grapes. But at the bottom, where I thought everything was lost, the secondary buds broke and these shoots actually did come with grapes. So maybe we’ll at least have enough for a small barrel of each Pinot and the Silvaner. It will become a wine to remember – hopefully a good one.

And as we tend to do we finished July with a week of bottling. The 2019 vintages of Drei Freunde, Fledermaus red and white as well as Black Betty. Racking from a barrel obviously leaves an empty vessel so I like using this opportunity to also rack wines that will stay in the cellar for an extra winter. The Spätburgunder could just move to the empty barrel Black Betty was aging in, the Heimat to a Silvaner barrel from the Drei Freunde blend – it’s a lot of work in our labyrinthine cellar moving things from A to B and cleaning everything up.

With some extra help of Oskar and my dad we got it all done although our over-complex bottling machine drove me crazy on the first day. I have a rhythm of preparing only as much wine as we can bottle on one day as I stopped using gas a year ago. When the wine is racked it gets pumped into big tanks up in the bottling hall and there it sits like in a huge decanter reacting with oxygen. A wine has to be robust enough to survive that and as most of them weren’t racked before they actually benefit from a bit of air. But it shouldn’t be too much, also because it’s super hot outside and the wine starts getting a little too warm if we wait too long. So it’s racking, bottling, racking bottling.

And then, on the last Friday of July it was time to say goodbye to Victor. Victor has been working and living with us for two years and – being a biologist and chemist – brought in a lot of input. Every time mousiness, malolactic fermentation or a certain fungus had to be explained he was the knowledgable go-to person. We learned a lot from each other and he certainly left his trace. Victor will move to Switzerland where his girlfriend lives adding another master degree to his collection (food sciences) and eventually getting his own vineyard. Thanks for having been part of 2Naturkinder Victor.

Oh, and last but not least the bottling hall got an upgrade:

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