The heavy winter rains recharged the soils in Ventura County and the vines have responded by enthusiastically growing like crazy. In a two week span the Syrah in the Lewis Vineyard grew at least 18 inches. A look up the row showed this view.
An open canopy isn't necessarily a bad thing, but once the shoots get beyond a certain length it gets more challenging to get them tucked into the catch wires and vertically oriented.
This meant that the shoots all needed to be tucked into the middle set of catch wires, suckers removed, and leaves pulled in order to create dappled sunlight and facilitate air flow.
Air flow and sunlight are critically important in controlling the spread of powdery mildew in the vineyard. We remove excess canes and pull leaves to create a better canopy microclimate and to aid in spray coverage. Spraying for powdery mildew control begins just after budbreak and continues every 10 to 14 days until the grapes reach approximately 15 Brix. These hillside vineyards must be sprayed by hand and this requires walking up and down each row spraying both sides of the vine. It is a lot of work but is essential for producing high quality fruit.
The same exact view of the vineyard shows the shoots no longer waving in the wind, but now tucked into the catch wires. The leaves that have been pulled are left on the ground to return their nutrients to the soil and ultimately to the vines.