botrytis, brix, downy mildew, fungus, harvest, Riesling, ripeness, vineyard, wine making
It finally stopped raining today.
My records show it rained 8 days in the first two week in this month (September) with a total of 14 cm (5.5 in) of rain. And August was not much better.
Not only do we have mushrooms growing in the ground:
but also fungus on the vines and grapes.
Late summer and early fall is the normal time when the vines ripen their fruit, and the nearly constant rain and cloud cover in the past two months has been detrimental to the grape crop. We are already two to three weeks past normal harvest dates on some varieties with weak sugar (Brix) levels in particularly in our Italian Riesling.
The vines were hit hard with moisture loving downy mildew in July and August, and this month grape clusters have been hit with Botrytis bunch rot. Botrytis is sometimes called “noble” rot as it is an important part of making sweet dessert wines, such as Sauternes or the Aszú of Tokaj. But if the conditions are too wet, as we have experienced this year, what happens with the Botrytis fungus instead is simply a damaging gray rot:
With all the constantly wet conditions this year many of the local smaller wine producers have given up on any harvest at all. We will be lucky, I think, if we get 1/3 to 1/2 our normal harvest.
It has been a great year for mold and fungus, but not been a good year for wine making.
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