Quality winemaking requires sacrifice. Every summer, in late July and early August, we begin the tedious (and melancholy) process of thinning grapes after veraison. Even in years like 2015 and 2016, when yields are low and average, respectively, we must drop grape clusters that are not ripening evenly to ensure uniform maturity of the remaining grapes at harvest time. This farming practice is called veraison thinning and is depicted in these vineyard pictures.
Cool weather during 2016 vintage flowering this spring led to an average-sized crop for both Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with some “hens and chicks” clusters (known as millerandage in French), and luckily only a small amount of thinning was needed.