The Flowering of the Vines

The flowering of the vinesGreetings vineyard friends and adopt a vine family members,

We cannot stress enough that Mother Nature plays a major role in deciding our monthly classes. We have been met with some very late blooming vines as the cool nights have persisted into our supposed spring with some unique temperatures. With that being said, this past winter has left us with many new variables to measure and consider as we move into summer.

Thankfully we have the greatest vineyard management team this side of Europe. Francisco, Jacob, and Héctor Maldonado have been working everyday all winter to maintain as little winter damage as possible.

Sadly, even with the amazing efforts from our farm team, we have had some winter death amongst a few of our baby vines, some of our other garden herbs and from what it looks like, our beautiful fig trees. We are keeping our fingers crossed for new sprouts from the base of the figs as they were a time honored treat on our farm for the last 25 years.

Farmers always have at least one eye on the weather at any given time. The months of May and June are particularly tense for New Jersey wine grape growers. This is the stage of the growing season when grapevines flower and set their fruit, essentially setting the stage for the size and quality of the year’s crop.

Once the grapevines have flowered, pollination and fertilization can take place. During this stage the vineyard becomes engulfed with an amazing aroma as our vines begin the process of pollination. Grapevines are self-pollinating, so bees and other insects don’t play much of a role, but prolonged cool weather, rain or wind can prevent the flowers from pollinating completely or cause them to be fertilized unevenly – which can mean the fruit clusters will be sparse, uneven, or in the worst case, non-existent.

The term “shatter” refers to the condition that occurs when flowers don’t pollinate and don’t become berries, or when the berries fall off soon after forming. This results in what is known as a “poor fruit set.” Some varieties, such as Pinot Noir are more sensitive than others to wind or cool, rainy conditions, and therefore more susceptible to shatter. Remember, we selected Pinot Noir in the vineyard because he is one of our more finicky children and needs a little more care and love then most of the vine children. After all he is the “Prince” of the vineyard. Hopefully we have surpassed the cool crazy weather of May as we slowly grow in temperature and dryer weather in June.

While there’s not much that farmers can do about the weather, there’s still a lot to be done in our New Jersey vineyards this time of year. Francisco our vineyard manager and his crew are suckering and shoot thinning to ensure each vine is in balance in terms of the ratio of (potential) fruit to vegetation.

Here is some good news. We are truly hoping to have all of you here for the flowering of the vines. A special time of year when the plant flowers for pollination resulting in a beautiful smell thorough out the vineyard and a magical platform for which to host a vineyard meet & greet.

With that being said, we would like invite all of our “adopt a vine parents” to join us either this Saturday May 31st at 5pm or Tuesday June 3rd at 12pm. We are only offering these two classes because we really only have a period of about 7-10 days to catch this beautiful stage of development and I am hoping this weekends temperatures will allow us the chance to witness it all first hand.

If you intend on attending one of these classes please RSVP by sending us an email at Adoptavine.willowcreek@gmail.com
The fee is $20 per person for guest & non-members and free for all adopt a vine parents.
(1 vine per person)

My Kindest Regards,
Kevin M. Celli
Farm Director
Willow Creek Winery