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by Jay DeWitt, Managing Partner and Vigneron

In my blog post last March, I wrote “Mother Nature can be an ill tempered, whimsical disciplinarian.” I am chuckling as I reflect on how right I was, considering the 2022 wipeout. (Vineyard Celebration of Life).

We expect there will be some problems with the 2023 crop due to the bruising of the buds that took a direct hit from a hailstone. The buds for the 2023 crop were fully formed by the end of June 2022, the storm occurred 6 weeks later. Using a microscope, you can see all of the anatomy for the next crop–tiny stems, leaves, and fruit clusters. The clusters contain the flower parts that will produce the berries after they bloom during the following season.

Not all of the buds received a direct hit. The buds occur randomly around the diameter of the stems. Since the hail was wind driven, the buds on the downwind side were protected by the stems. The storm also caused some phloem damage to the stems. But, in contrast to the buds, the plant can repair phloem tissue, and that is what happened last year after the storm. We won’t know the full extent of the damage until the berries begin to expand in July. The crew is pruning now, and instead of leaving the normal amount of buds which would be 30 per plant, they are leaving 45 per plant. That will allow us to trim out any clusters that don’t look right and still get a full crop.