It seems the whole world is in the middle of harvest, but Gantz Family Vineyards has another year to wait until our first crop. In the meantime, our responsibility is to protect the beautiful vines developed during the growing season. The very best of the long and luxurious shoots that grew this year will be selected to become next year’s fruiting canes when the vines are pruned in late winter. But until the plants are pruned, the long shoots are at risk of being broken off by tractors driving through the rows or snapped by a strong wind, losing the cane and wounding the plant. So, we are hard at work tucking the shoots into the trellis wires to protect them. We could ask vineyard manager Ulises Valdez to bring in vineyards workers to do this time-intensive work. But managing the canopy gives me and Clay the opportunity to become familiar with every one of the 6,800 plants we have on our vineyard. It would also be difficult to find enough of these talented workers, as crews are stretched thin during this year's busy harvest.
To manage the canopy, we weave the long vines back into the trellising wires and remove unwanted suckers near the ground or growing from the rootstock, which steal energy from the young vine. We also remove any fruit clusters that have developed. While most of them are small, green and immature, every once in a while we come upon a small cluster of ripened fruit. I pop these immediately into my mouth and they are wonderfully sweet.
Each row takes us anywhere from 20-45 minutes to complete. And we've got a lot of rows. But those little gifts of ripe grapes -- a tiny precursor to the beautiful fruit we expect next year -- are a wonderful reminder of what all the hard work is for.