Bruce Devlin, the winemaker at Ballentine Vineyards, was kind enough to give us a vineyard update. Here’s what he had to say:
“It’s been a really aggressive year in the vineyard. Several warm days have really pushed the vines along, and it’s been hard to keep up with the work. We are finally getting a breather this week, and putting our finishing touches on the vines. Our focus right now is really all about sunlight and how it interacts with the fruit of the vine. We have three sites and several blocks within each site, and they are all handled a little bit differently.
At our Pocai Vineyard (first photo) in Calistoga, one of the warmest parts of the valley, it’s all about filtered light exposure to the grapes. Here we make a tunnel in the canopy to allow some light exposure while protecting the fruit from intense direct sun.
At our Betty’s Vineyard (2nd photo) in St. Helena, we actually strip the leaves from the fruit zone totally exposing the fruit on the morning side.
How we direct the sunlight on the fruit plays a critical role in color and tannin development. Too little and we don’t get what we need out of the fruit and too much can be disastrous. For me it’s a small thing that has a huge impact on quality. It’s really a fun time to be in the vineyard evaluating each block and figuring out the best treatment.
So far this year things are progressing really nicely and the quality looks great. We have to put the hard work in now, so that the wines released in year to three years are up to the quality standard expected from the Napa Valley.”