Our vines are now in full bloom as we march toward harvest under beautiful, clear skies. "Bloom?" you may ask yourself as you look at these little green blobs with antennas. Yes, each little blob is a flower, and each flower has the potential to become a Pinot Noir grape. Grapes do not have big, showy flowers, which are the, "Come here, big boy," of plants that need the help of insects to pollinate. Grapes, which are hemaphroditic, do all the work themselves. Take a look at this flower cluster. The little pale stalks are stamens, which produce the pollen at their tips. The green ball is an ovule. A pollen grain will land on the sticky end of the ovule, called a stigma, grow down into the ovule and fertilize it. The whole ovary will then grow into a grape.
Flowering is a tricky time because wind or rain could wash the flowers off the plants before they have a chance to fertilize the nascent grapes. We will be looking for fruit "set," which is the enlargement of the ovaries into berries after pollination. This will give us our first indication of how big our first harvestable crop will be.
Update (6/11) : Our fruit flowering and set happened quickly, in about 7-10 days. Our viticulturist, Kris Lowe, said it occurred early in the growing season, but that was normal for most vineyards this year. The set, which produced small clusters typical of a Calera clone, was normal and, overall, Kris says the vineyard looks good for its first harvest. Weather has fluctuated wildly in early June, dropping from 100 degree days of sun to 60 degree days of wet and rain. Our recent spray included a fungicide to strengthen our vines against botrytis, which can cause rot in grape clusters.