One of the instructors from the Mira Costa College Wine Technology Program, a well respected grape and wine expert from this area, came to visit this morning.  Pete Anderson and another friend who makes wine toured the vineyard and we had them address our concerns over the puny grapes this year.  Part of the problem was the odd cool, damp weather, the resulting Powdery Mildew and our tactics taken to address it.

What we learned, some of which we knew, but it was good to have it confirmed:
–  Establish a spraying schedule for Powdery Mildew next Spring beginning right after pruning, before bud break and carry on at recommended intervals.  We’re good to go with the sulphur and equipment.
–  Grapes like flickering light, don’t leaf thin too much.  We thinned a lot this year in order to expose the grape clusters to sun and wind, to counter the Powgery Mildew.  With next years spray applications, this will not be an issue and our leaf thinning will be much reduced. 
–  We’ll leave at least 12 leaves per grape cluster.  That’s a lot of counting!  I’m guessing we’ll do a few that detailed so we can see what 12 leaves looks like and just wing it from there.  Also we’ll remove fewer leaves from the east side of the rows than we do from the west side.
–  And finally, we’re going to place a T-bar across the top of the line posts to expand out the spread between the top 2 wires on the Vertical Shoot Positioning System trellis.  This will allow the top of the vines to drape outwards to help shade the grapes.

The good news?  A mixture of “normal” looking grapes and raisined grapes will make a fine wine.  We should not worry.  And the best news:  These guys liked our wine!  Our very first vintage, the 2009 Estate Petite Sirah was called “GREAT”!  They both said they were not just being polite!  Beginners luck.