Between the Vines with Vineyard Manager Ned Hill

True to the adage, April showers brought May flowers — or, more specifically, May flowering and fruit set. Our team had the honor of spending one morning last week between the vines with Ned Hill, the expert vineyard manager responsible for the health and care of our estate.

Vineyard Manager Ned Hill gestures to Wingo Vineyard on the Ram's Gate Estate
Vineyard Manager Ned Hill gestures to Wingo Vineyard on the Ram’s Gate Estate

According to Ned, the 2014 vintage is running about three weeks ahead of what we consider “normal,” and we should be expecting harvest beginning in early- to mid-August, depending on the summer weather. The various blocks on the Ram’s Gate Estate are in slightly different stages of fruit set, in which every vine produces the first tiny green berries of the year.

Baby Chardonnay grapes in the Ram's Gate Faultline Vineyard
Baby Chardonnay grapes in the Ram’s Gate Faultline Vineyard

Fruit set is a delicate time in the vineyard, as any extreme weather — wind, heat, frost — can damage the potential harvest. Fortunately, all looks beautiful across our Estate Vineyards.

Ned comparing the fruit sets from two different Chardonnay clones. Left: Clone 17; Right: Wente Clone

Many have been wondering the affect of this year’s drought on the upcoming harvest. A smattering of rain showers came later than normal this year, but according to Ned, “As far as the grapes are concerned, the rains came at a perfect time,” hydrating the soil without leaving time to dry out before flowering and fruit set.

We can’t wait to see what the next months will bring in the vineyard cycle!


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