There’s a weak spot in our Cabernet Franc vineyard. These vines were planted in the year 2000 and so every one is 7 years old. Fifty seven of these vines have not grown to the same height, dimension or strength as the others.
This doesn’t suit us as we need every vine to produce grapes that ripen at once, just the way female impala buck have their calves on the same day as each other.
Vines that have different growth patterns ripen their grapes at varying rates. Grapes on strong vines may be ripe today, but the weak one, next in the row, will only reach the same state in a week’s time. To make wonderful wine, you can’t pick both vines on the same day and make all of the juice into wine. One vine with grapes that have green, unripe flavours will reduce the pleasure of the total.
Before we harvest this block, the grapes from the weaker vines will be cut off and dropped on the ground, and will play no part in the winemaking.
Fortunately, the weak ones are all together in a small group. We have isolated them.
Why are they different? We don’t know. The soil preparation and vineyard care were the same for all.
The vines of course are all virtually identical cuttings. It’s possible that there is more broken shale stone in the soil under this patch than elsewhere in the vineyard.
If that is so, then the roots will grow down into lower-lying soil and these vines will strengthen and one day catch up the rest.
We’ll have to wait and see.