Konrad Vineyards Grower's Blog

By Mark Holler

1/8/12 The overall yield for the vineyard was 1.63 tons/acre.

10/25/11 Final day of harvest at Konrad Vineyards. Block K1 was harvested yielding 2.21 tons and K2U was harvested yielding .857 tons. Picking was very slow as more than half the fruit in these blocks was affected by botrytis. Yields were low, around 1.6 tons/acre due to all the botrytized fruit. Ramon however, reported on delivering the fruit that he saw other fruit on the crushpads that were in much worse shape than ours, Zinfandel at 20 Brix for example.

The morning started out foggy but then improved into a beautiful sunny day on the hilltop which is K1. This is my favorite day of the harvest and I did my best to capture it with my camera. We started out in a dense fog at Camalie but, by the time we got to K1 we were above the clouds. Brings to mind the movie "A Walk in the Clouds" that was shot on Mt. Veeder within a mile of K1.

There was still a lot of dew on the ground and on the grapes even in K1.

C'est fini. Bigger versions of these pictures.

It's been a pleasure working with this group of wine professionals to bring some of the best fruit on the planet to tank in a year that has been a big challenge for us.

10/23/11 Up early today ready for the biggest pick of the season. The weather yesterday was very warm and the dryest we've had for a while. The humidity got down to 15% yesterday and only rose to 65% overnight.

We picked 3.0 tons from K3L and K4L as well as 1.86 tons from blocks K6 and K2L. The average yield over these 3.2 acres of vineyard was just 1.5 ton/acre. All of these grapes went to the Fields Family Winery where winemaker Ryan Sherman had it all crushed and in the tanks within 5 hours, a good idea with the botrytis in some of the fruit.

Below you can see the pad where we weigh the grapes and load them onto Ramon's truck; proud James with 3 tons of his fruit; James and Ramon in a lighter moment at the end of the day.

10/22/11 Harvested ~1.6 tons from the 1.4 acres of K5 which had a heavy incidence of botrytis. Yield was very low, ~1.1 tons/acre due to having to drop in excess of 50% of the fruit in much of this block particularly the rows further uphill. Some vines were a complete loss. Update: Randle called to say that he was pleased with our harvesting selectivity and reported that the total weight he received was 1.605 tons. He also reported that he measured the must to be 24.8 Brix in the tank, which is somewhat of a surprise since it was 23.4 Brix on 10/15.

Picking botrytised fruit is slow because you have to clip each bunch pull it out into the sun to inspect it, roll it over in your hand looking for the botrytis and then drop in into the bin or onto the ground. This takes 2-3x longer than just cutting fruit and dropping it into your bin. It also yields only half the fruit into your bin than you would put there if the botrytis weren't a concern. This makes the effort to harvested crop ratio on the order of 6x worse than a normal harvest.The most frustrating thing is that the largest and ripest bunches tend to have the most botrytis. I will say that Ramon's gang has been doing an excellent job selecting fruit in spite of this challenge.

Here you can see my wife Cindy framed by botrytis infested fruit as she picks and culls in K5 today.

Botrytis carnage on the ground in K5.

Picking grapes in K5.

10/21/11 Harvested 2.55 tons from the 1.62 acres of K3U,K4U for Jeff Fontanella today for a yield of 1.57 tons per acre.

Here is the latest schedule.:

Harvest Schedule
Buyer Block acres tons Yield Harvest Day Destination boxes



McBride C3 Lower ~1 1.8 1.8 tons/acre Friday 10/21 Afternoon 1115 Loma Vista Dr.     Done 1.807 tons
Fontanella K3U, K4U 1.62 2.55

1.57 tons/acre

Friday 10/21 Morning Fontanella Winery, Partrick Road. Pick up 10 Boxes Fontanella Winery Done 2.55 tons, 1.57 tons/acre
Johnson K5 1.4 ~1.6 ~1.1 tons/acre Saturday 10/22 Afternoon Fulton Road. 4 Fontanella boxes, 2 Oak Knoll Boxes ? Substantial Botrytised fruit
Marketta C10 .5 .891 ~2.0 tons/acre

Saturday 10/22 Morning

Combs St. Napa. 2 OakKnoll Boxes Camalie Scale Haul in Pickup Truck and leave it there overnight.
Loverme C1 .75 1.12 ~1.5 tons/acre Saturday 10/22 Will pick up Bringing 2 Camalie Scale 7:00am arrival w/boxes.

K3L,K4L, K2L, K6

3.2 4.86 1.5 tons/acre Sunday 10/23 Fields Family Winery Lodi. 4 Macro bins at Vineyard. Use our big scale.  
Wood C8 .85 1.356 1.59 tons/acre

Sunday 10/23

Will Pick up Fruit

Use his 125 -5 gallon buckets Has small scale. Pick C8 from west end until all buckets full.
Sporte C4 bot. .25 .311 1.24 tons/acre Monday 10/24 Picked up Fruit. 50 gallon white bins they have. use small scale All from upper vineyard
Crushpad K1,K2UE 1,.3 2.21 1.7 tons/acre Tuesday 10/25   Brought 8 Boxes has scale  
Hunter3 K2U .6 .857 1.4 tons/acre Tuesday 10/25   Brought 2 Boxes has scale Picked to regular bins not FYBs
Aonair C5,6,7partials .71 1.3   Wednesday 11/2     has scale  
Shantz C2   .071   Monday 10/31        
Holler         Saturday 10/29/11       No fruit left!

Musical Boxes: This is where the boxes are. In general buyers are not delivering boxes according to contract terms partly due to the chaotic short notice harvest this year. As a result we are picking up boxes after delivering fruit and using those boxes to deliver to other buyers. This creates a lot of post harvest box hauling which I guess is not much worse that pre harvest hauling of boxes. Currently we don't have enough boxes for the harvest delivery on Sunday.

2 Camalie Boxes at Fontanella; 4 Fontanella Boxes at Konrad

4 Camalie Boxes at McBride; 5 Oak Knoll Boxes at Camalie

4 Oak Knoll Farming Boxes to Randle Johnson DFW winery Fulton La. St. Helena 10/22/11

2 Camalie Boxes and Pickup truck to Marketta Formeau ? 10/22/11

Purchased 4 new Boxes from Central Valley Supply in St. Helena.

10/22/11 We were above the fog this morning and the humidity was down. A beautiful day.

10/20/11 Afternoon: Harvest Scheduling is moving fast. The schedule is filling up so do call early if you want to harvest sooner rather than later.

10/20/11 Morning


What a difference a day makes. I went out this morning after a very cool damp evening and was able to find bunches looking like the picture below in most blocks. The upper blocks with better air flow have less but, you can find bunches like this in all blocks if you look close. In the harder hit blocks you can find a bunch like this on every other vine. Technical Reference on Botrytis.

In this photo below you can additionally see the heavy dew that has been setting on the fruit the last couple evenings. The fog is not clearing until 11:00am.

Below you can see that over the last two days the humidity has been very high, temperatures lower and the fog has not burned off before 11:00am. All of this has contributed to the advance of the botrytis.

10/19/11 Rob Hunter and Ryan Sherman visited the vineyard today to inspect and taste their fruit. Ryan also brought his boxes for harvest.

We observed the most botrytis we have seen yet; This time in K4L. There we saw that it is now affecting 2-4 undamaged grapes in the middle of bunches away from the sun/spray in maybe 5-10 of the bunches. This is a grey colored fuzzy halo on the grapes not the green mold. Below is a photo. Ramon did an extensive drive through of the vineyard and didn't notice this. I walked K2U with Rob Hunter before the sun came out and we didn't notice any botrytis there although Rob did mention tasting a "botrytis flavor" in one of the 30 or so samples he tasted. .

I took some informal partial Brix samples as we walked the vineyards to see how fast the brix are advancing during the most recent sunny days. The results were mixed with the K2U sample 22.7 Brix a regression of .5 Brix from 23.2 Brix 4 days earlier and the K3LK4L sample 22.8 Brix up .6 Brix from 22.2 Brix 4 days earlier. I think these results are just noise due to the variance introduced by not sampling the exact same locations I usually sample. At camalie two samples taken in the formal way advanced by 0.1 Brix over the 4 days. I will do another formal sampling on Saturday morning and inspect for botrytis at the same time. A very tentative conclusion which may be drawn from this is that the Brix advance is very slow, probably less than 0.2 Brix per week which could easily be just dehydration. The soft state of the fruit and its very loose attachment to the raichi at this point is further evidence that most of the ripening metabolism of the grapes has shut down. I observed some lignified bunch stems, evidence of metabolism shutting down. Based on this limited and tentative data one could estimate that even if the grapes are left to hang for another two weeks the sugar levels aren't going to advance by more than a half point. The fruit softening will advance as well the botrytis and green mold. Green flavors may drop slightly in bunches which haven't lignified but, I have no sense for how probable or significant this would be.

At the risk of overanalyzing the situation here is how I see the harvest date decision making in graphical form. With time you will get a little Brix improvement from dehydration and some metabolism, you might get some reduction in green flavors or not at the risk that botrytis/mold will bloom and compromise your fruit. The decision is different for each winemaker depending on how he/she values these three factors.

Personnally I plan to take the middle of the road. Watch closely for more botrytis, See where the Brix are on Saturday and harvest sometime next week no matter what happens. Keep in mind that Harvest will take 5-6 days so if you wait to the last minute to schedule you may have to endure another 6 days of waiting worst case. Don't forget you need to supply boxes for your harvest.

10/19/11 I've been in touch with several of you now as you have come to check on your grapes. Here's a comment from Jeff Ames on Monday who is making wine from K5. "  I was up there 2 days ago.  Fruit looks like it is hanging in there.  I got a 22.5 when I was there so still a ways to go but the weather looks good and today was toasty so I have hope. Jeff". Ryan Sherman (K3L, K4L) is coming up today for a look and bringing his boxes. Rob Hunter (K2L) is coming for a look today as well. I can't put any objective form of flavor assessment in my blog. You have to come an taste for yourself. If you haven't come up for a tasting of your fruit and inspection for botrytis now is the time. It is also a good time to bring boxes for your harvest.

The accuweather forcast is showing sun for the next 11 days and no rain out to the end of their 15 day forecast. The newspaper said that the temperatures are well above average for this time of year. It looks like we are getting a break from Mother Nature. The only question is will the botrytis/mold stay in check. Ramon's thorough leafing and then spraying was holding up well a week afterwards when I went through the whole vineyard sampling again. I saw no significant botrytis.

Below is a bunch with some damage from Camalie Block 3 with some damage from a wasp breaking into a berry which one would expect to have some botrytis but doesn't. This is a good indication that the spray and leafing is working.

Below is a photo of a little of the green mold on some damaged grapes at Camalie Block 3. I include this hear just to document what we are talking about. This was still a very uncommon sight on Sunday when I took these photos.

I will be out there looking again today and taking a few samples to see what the rate of brix advance is during the last few dry warm days since Saturday. With both maturing and some dehydration after the rain I am hoping for a healthy Brix advance rate.

10/15/11 Brix sampling done today. Sampled grapes from 1:30-4:00pm, a little later in the day than usual. The best news is that I saw negligible signs of botrytis or green mold in the vineyard. The spray and the leafing program appears to be working well.

Block Brix 9/4/11 Brix 9/20/11 Brix 9/22/10 Brix Delta Last 16 days Brix 10/2/11 Brix Delta 12 days Brix 10/7/11 Brix 10/15/11

Brix Delta 13 days


T.A. g/l




K1 17.2 20.1 20.0 2.9 22.1 2   23.1 1.0    
K2U   20.2     22.2 2   23.2 1.0    
K2L   19.1 18.3   19.6 .5 19.3 20.8 1.2 7.75 3.48
K3U+K4U   21.0 19.4   22.5 1.5 23.0 23.8 1.3 7.1 3.66
K3L+K4L   19.8 19.5   21.4 1.6 21.6 22.2 0.8 7.9 3.65
K5   20.6 19.6   22.5 1.9   23.4 0.9    
K6 17.7 20.0 19.6 2.3 21.2 1.2   21.7 0.5 7.1 3.56
Average 17.4 20.1 19.4 2.6 21.6 1.5   22.6 0.95    

To interpret the Brix above you have to take into account what the weather has been doing over the last 13 days since the previous Brix Reading. The plot below shows the rain and sun we have had over this period. The Navy Blue curve is the cumulative rain and the orange curve is the intensity of the sunshine. A nice cosine shaped hump in the orange curve is a sunny day. A jagged bump is a cloundy day with intermittent sunshine. The red curve is the temperature. We have been on a roller coaster ride during this period with only 6 days of full sunshine out of the 13. We have had two days of rain and a night when 70% of the rain fell. The brix advanced by 0.95 over this period which translates to about 0.5 Brix/week. This is not bad considering the rain and the relatively low temperatures during the first half of this period. Without the rain the Brix would have increased by at least 1.0 Brix/week. The average Brix is now 22.6 with one block up at 23.8Brix.

The weather forcast calls for 10 days of sun and warm temperatures over the next 11 days which should advance the sugars at least one Brix and possibly 1.5. This would get us to 24 +/- 1 Brix which is probably the best we can expect this year. Most of the vines are still active but there are maybe 20% of the vines showing significant sinescence. A similar proportion of the fruit is softening. Flavors have advanced significantly with some dimpled fruit with very nice jammy flavors in the upper blocks.

If the weather forecast holds you should plan on harvesting around 10/24 - 10/27.

Here are two photos showing the worst of the sinesense in the vineyard in K1. You can also see in the distance a spot of yellow in K5 as well.

Below is from K1. Again this is the worst of the sinescense. The vines haven't shut down but certain blocks are definitely slowing down. If your fruit is up to 23 Brix I would recommend a visit to assess the flavors. K1 has very little if any IBMP left by my humble taster.

The senescence is not bad in 80% of the vineyard like these vines from K2U.

Below is fruit from K2U where the picture above was taken.

Some K3U grapes.

A Malbec vine in K5 that didn't get budded over to Cab. It actually set some fruit!

Starting to see some dimpling on bunches like those below, in this case on the sunny side of vines in Camalie Block 3 the flavors are great, "jammy". This is less than a 5% phenomenon yet but, is increasing. It says to me that if we can get the fruit sufficiently ripe the wines will be excellent.

Funny Story: I picked up a crushed beer can near the Korad big oak in K1 and was rewarded for my good deed with a pocket full of ants.

10/12/11 We harvested first fruit today but, in Camalie Vineyards, not Konrad Vineyards. The fruit was a small block of Merlot which yielded 3/4 ton from a fifth of an acre.

10/10/11 We received another 0.6" of rain in the vineyards today which we really didn't need. This was not in last week's weather forecast.

10/8/11 A bright and warm day yesterday after the rain and overcast brightened spirits greatly. I took 3 Brix readings which were also encouraging. In spite of the rain K3U, K4U advanced by half a Brix from 22.5 to 23 in the last 5 days which included almost 3 days of rain. Some of this increase may be due to measurement variance but, still its in the right direction. Even lower blocks K3L-K4L saw an increase in Brix over this period although small from 21.4 to 21.6. Block K2L which is furthest behind unfortunately moved backward 0.3 Brix to 19.3 Brix however the sample producing this number was from just the two rows below the deck rather than those rows plus the two rows to the East that I normally measure as well. These numbers are still relatively good because I have seen the Brix drop back by a whole point after a rain on another occasion. It means that the vines/grapes were not in a dehydrated state before the rain. It also means the the Brix numbers are not inflated due to dehydration. They are a conservative estimate of how ripe the grapes really are. The flavors are consistent with the Brix or a little ahead if anything, similar to last year.

The rain has penetrated all the way to 24" depth across the whole vineyard and is providing useable water to the vines. I have shut off all of the irrigation at this point and don't plan to restart it. The downward step in the middle of the graph below is the soil moisture transient from the rain.

The grape sizes are on the large side because of the light fruit set and now plenty of available water. On the bunch below you can see a little sun damage on this fruit in K2L which is not common on this year's fruit. This macro photo taken with my good Canon camera makes the grapes look like little moons.

Today the sun is up already and Ramon is out there spraying to prevent Botrytis and the green penecillin mold. We will be spraying a combination of Serenade and Ph-D fungicides carried by a relatively high water volume, 100 gallons/acre, which will require refilling the sprayer 8 times at Konrad vineyards. The goal being to fully coat the fruiting zone. The doses of the fungicides used are the recommended doses so the spray will be more dilute than normal. The doses are 6.2 oz. of Ph-D/acre and 3 lbs of Serenade per acre. It turns out that Serenade is an ORGANIC broad spectrum fungicide which is effective against the penicillin mold as well as the botrytis. I guess that makes it an anti-antibiotic. It's active ingredient is the QST713 strain of Bacillus subtilis dried. Apparently this bacteria produces something that the fungi don't like. As an insurance policy and to follow the lead of many others who seem to know what they are doing we are using the non-organic synthetic fungicide Ph-D as well. The dose of this is much lower and in fact the active ingredient application rate amounts to 3/4 of an ounce per acre if you do the math. This is a Group 19 fungicide with its active ingredient being "Polyoxin D zinc salt". Fungicides are grouped according to their active ingredient types to allow rotation of different group types over time to avoid allowing the pathogens to adapt to a specific fungicide. We haven't used either of these fungicides before so they should be quite effective.

Over the last three days Ramon has had a crew leafing all blocks to expose the fruit as much as possible to dry it and expose it for the spraying which he is doing today. Below you can see the results of Ramon's leafing in block K2L which has the densest canopy in the vineyard despite the fact that it got no fertilizer two years straight and no water at all again this year. Note there is minimal sinescence. The vines are showing no signs of shutting down.

No one took us up on our offer of a discount for taking low Brix grapes early. This tells me quality is the most important thing for our buyers which is what I expected. One of James' girlfriends in a panic thought we should make this offer.

The weather forecast is for sun and warming over the next week with a chance of showers a week from today followed by 4 or 5 days of 80s and eventually rain starting on October 22nd. If this forecase holds I am anticipating maybe someone deciding to harvest before next Saturday but, most waiting until the 20th-21st. With two weeks of sun we should get on the order of 2 Brix improvement and if the 80s dehydrate the fruit some it could be more. This would get all the fruit above 23.5 Brix and some of the upper fruit as high as 25 Brix. Two weeks should also get the flavors where we want them. Keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer of thanks for the two weeks we have been given.

10/5/11 Two days of rain dropped 4.2" of rain on the vineyards as you can see from the graph below. This is not good. Within a few days we will know if mold or botrytis are going to be significant as a result of the rain. The fruit is cabernet sauvignon known for its rain tolerance and the canopies are relatively open thanks to extra leafing done to expose more fruit to sun for faster ripening. Another positive aspect of our situation is that the weather report shows 12 days of sun going forward.

Looking back at my blogs for the last couple years there is some good reference data on the effect of rain on the grapes. It turns out that in both of the last two years we also had 4" rain events before harvest was complete. In 2009 it rained 4.5" on 10/13/09 and in 2010 it rained 4.0" on 10/24.

In 2009 we had excellent ripening and had all of the fruit harvested except K2L and K6. K6 was harvested 9 days later with no significant mold or botrytis. K2L was harvested another 5 days later on 10/27 and did have some significant green mold especially on sun damaged clusters.

In 2010 the grapes were slow to ripen so we had only harvested K3U and K4U before the 10/24 4" rain. We were still harvesting on 11/6/10 when we brought in K1. The fruit was soft and falling off of the raichi but, the mold density was tolerable. Cold soaks aggravated the mold problem so most didn't do them.

Conclusion from the above look back: 4" rain events before harvest are not uncommon on Mt. Veeder especially in recent years. The impact of the rain is significant but, workable. This year looks like the worst of the last three with the rain coming earliest and the ripenss being as far behind as last year.

10/2/11 Brix sampled again. The Brix advanced 1.5 Brix over the last 12 days which corresponds to .87 Brix/week which is significantly slower than the preceeding 16 days during which it was 1.3 Brix/week. The variance between blocks was fairly small except for block K2L which advanced only 0.5 Brix.

Yield was estimated in Block K2U by finding a vine with the average bunch count out of 6 counted and then weigh all bunches on that vine after cutting them off of the vine. The 20th vine down from the top of row 40 in block K2U. Bunch counts in vines in this area were 24,28,23,36,28 and 31. Bunches were weighed on the vine with 28 bunches. Average bunch weight was low at only 2.6 oz./vine, 0.16 lb. Shatter was not significant on these vines. Total weight for the vine was 4.6 lbs of fruit. Considering the vine density is 900 vines/acre in this block this translates to 2.1 tons/acre.

Block Brix 9/4/11 Brix 9/20/11 Brix 9/22/10 Brix Delta Last 16 days Brix 10/2/11 Brix Delta 12 days Brix 10/7/11
K1 17.2 20.1 20.0 2.9 22.1 2  
K2U   20.2     22.2 2  
K2L   19.1 18.3   19.6 .5 19.3
K3U+K4U   21.0 19.4   22.5 1.5 23.0
K3L+K4L   19.8 19.5   21.4 1.6 21.6
K5   20.6 19.6   22.5 1.9  
K6 17.7 20.0 19.6 2.3 21.2 1.2  
Average 17.4 20.1 19.4 2.6 21.6 1.5  

I have shut down the irrigation for at least the next week in light of the rain expected in the next few days. Soil moisture tensions are all good at the current time, generally under 100cbar at 24" depth.

9/25/11 We received 0.02 inches of rain and had an overcast day. This little rain is inconsequential for the grapes, not much more than a thick fog. The day of missed sun will push out harvest by a day though.

9/20/11We are getting some nice heat now, two 95F days after a perfect 3 day ramp which has given the vines time to adapt without sun burning the fruit. Based on the Brix data below including the equivalent data last year we have actually passed up last year in ripening now. In other words two days later in time last year the Brix levels were actually 0.7 Brix lower than this year on 9/20. With the Brix changing about 1.3 Brix per week one can then say that we are about half a week ahead of last year at this point. Not a big difference but, definitely in the right direction.

The other estimate one can get from this data is that if your goal is 25 Brix and the slope is 1.3 Brix/week and we are currently at 20 Brix it will be 3 weeks until your harvest or about October 11 which is not bad at all. If the Brix rise only 1 brix per week it would be 5 weeks or October 25th. Still reasonable. It looks like we are going to make it. Better clean your tanks. The flavor development also seems to be on track at the Brix level in my opinion after tasting across the vineyard.

The brix distribution from block to block is quite close with a spread of only 1.9 Brix across the whole vineyard. This indicates our cropping, irrigation and fertigation have been successful in reducing variation across the vineyard. I personnaly did the sampling on exactly the same rows in the same way this year as last year and have high confidence in these numbers.

Block Brix 9/4/11 Brix 9/20/11 Brix 9/22/10 Brix Delta Last 16 days Brix 10/2/11 Brix Delta 12 days
K1 17.2 20.1 20.0 2.9 22.1 2
K2U   20.2     22.2 2
K2L   19.1 18.3   19.6 .5
K3U+K4U   21.0 19.4   22.5 1.5
K3L+K4L   19.8 19.5   21.4 1.6
K5   20.6 19.6   22.5 1.9
K6 17.7 20.0 19.6 2.3 21.2 1.2
Average 17.4 20.1 19.4 2.6 21.6 1.5

Compare to Camalie Vineyards Data for reference.

I also took a very small sampling of bunch counts in block K2U and got numbers of 22, 21 and 19 for three vines. Figuring 1/4 lb. /bunch this translates to a yield of 5 lbs/vine. At 900 vines per acre this is a yield of 2.25 tons/acre. If you figure 1/3 lb/bunch the yield would be 2.9 tons/acre. I plan to do some bunch weighing to get a better yield estimate. Bottom line though is that the yield will be reasonable, not extremely low. The yield average last year was 2.41 tons/acre for the whole vineyard.

Temperatures over the last week are shown below.

K3L Dry farmed so far.


K6, Pretty red leaves on just one vine in K6. Cause unknown.

9/11/11 Below you can see some tree trimming we did near K1 that opened up some air flow and light from the East to block K1 You can see the old water tank. On the right you can see the fog billowing up the valley toward K2 and the Malbec. When the sun comes out it heats the air in the valley which expands pushing the fog up the mountain hillsides at the same time it is dissipating.

Below is a photo from K2U taken 9/7/11. The fruit is coming along nicely. The vines are compensating for the light fruit set by growing bigger grapes. Not to worry, this is Mt. Veeder fruit known for its concentration and color.

This photo with its evening light and perspective exagerates the grape size further. Flavors are coming along nicely.


9/8/11 Nice weather we're having. Upper 80s to 90s and very little fog. The vines are making excellent headway toward ripening now. In my informal assessment in K2U I found that 1 out of 3 bunches already had no bell pepper flavor in it at all. Replayed the solenoid on the K4U irrigation valve. This is where the soil moisture monitoring comes in handy. It spotted the valve's malfunction.

9/4/11 First Brix numbers: 50 berry sample two rows middle and ends of cordons, north and south sides of rows. Same locations and technique as prior years but, I sampled about 2:00pm in the afternoon which may add as much as one Brix relative to the early morning numbers.

K1: 16.8 Brix

K6: 17.2 Brix.

How does this compare to the last couple years you ask? Very close to or a half Brix ahead of 2010. Relative to 2009 though which I would call a typical year we are about 4 Brix behind. No real surprise here.

8/27/11We have had 3 nice warm days of 85F+ as you can see below with one day of 90F.   We are expecting another 5 days with highs in the 80s to come. We are about 80% through veraison now on average but we are still concerned about getting all of the fruit ripe.  

K6 top row

To insure we get the fruit ripe we are planning on dropping as much as 25% of the fruit, taking  the bunch count per spur position from 4 clusters down to 3.  We will do this as part of our green drop pass which is going on now and the early part of next week.  During this pass we will also be dropping green fruit on short or damaged shoots, and leafing 70% of the east side of each vine at Konrad Vineyards . 

If you prefer we not drop fruit from your block and are willing to take whatever Brix your block ends up with we'd love to hear from you.   Otherwise expect the fruit to get dropped and your yield drop correspondingly.   Resulting yields may fall as low as 2 tons/acre as a result of this dropping and the lighter than normal fruit set we have this year.  However, do expect the quality to be excellent again as we will be dropping the fruit which is furthest from the norm.  Uniformity will be significantly improved. 

8/16/11 K5 grapevine with good color, legs and a snout.

\Below is the status of color in K6 which is probably the furthest along color wise. We debated about whether or not to do one more wettable sulfur application but, decided to go ahead with the lower blocks since they are still fairly green yet and at Camalie I found one vine with a little powdery mildew in a lower block.

K2U below.

Below is K3U or K4U.

Good weather finally with 8 days of low to mid 80s which is what is getting us through veraison. Most days we are above the fog which gives us an extra 2-3 hours of sun. We are bumping up irrigation cycles 20-30% now that we are at veraison. Pre veraison is when water stress is most effective at limiting berry size and concentrating tannins and flavor according to the research which led to the deficit irrigation technique. The limited water and hedging have brought the canopies under control. Above you can see all the way down a row in K3. Notice that the vigor is more uniform down the row than it was last year. This is due to our ongoing adjustments of the top and bottom treatments. The bottom halves of K2,K3 and K4 have still received no water or fertilizer this year.

Always set your parking brake when parking next to K1. The Landrover popped out of park with no one in it and went about 150 ft. downhill before hitting these oak trees.

More photos that only an insurance agent can appreciate.

8/15/11 VERAISON! Below is Dr. Konrad in Block K1smiling about his fruit reaching veraison. Block K1 is showing a good 40% color as of today. It is the furthest ahead of any of the blocks.

A little afternoon jamming with the Doctor and his God Son Ryan on the deck in K2. We were enjoying a bottle of Ryan Sherman's very excellent 2009 Cab made with grapes from block K3L, K4L. He enhanced it nicely with a little fractional blending.

7/27/11, 8:15am Nice morning shot of Konrad Vineyards above the fog getting more ripening sunlight than the valley. Young Malbec in the middle.

I have started regular irrigations for blocks K1, K2U, K3U, K4U and K5.

K1: 1 gallon Mon, Thu, Sat.

K2U, K3U, K4U: 1 gallon Tues, Fri

K5: 3hrs. Sun.

K2L, K3L, K4L, K6 No Irrigation scheduled.

I did give K6 one gallon while I was there. Irrigations are scheduled between midnight and 5am to conserve water. Computer controlled timers actuate the valves. Operation of the valves is confirmed by soil moisture measurements and manifold pressure measurements taken, every 15 minutes by the eKo Pro wireless monitoring system. If you would like direct access to the data yourself just give me a call and ask. 650-799-6571.

Highs around 80 the last week making for some extremely pleasant weather for humans as well as grapes and powdery mildew.

No signs of any powdery mildew at all. The canopy growth has slowed significantly due to our holding back on irrigation. Below you can see the shoot tips from the top of K6 showning reduced internode spacing and fewer tendrils near the ends.

The pond is still almost full, about 18" down when I checked on 7/20. No chance of running out of water.

K6 lower area.

K1 fruit below.

K5 from vantage point standing on the back of the ATV.

The Konrad Enchanted Grove, seventy towering redwoods protected and cherished by our favorite Doctor.

From the forest floor looking skyward Seventy redwood trees make a dark and peaceful enclave.

Check it out next time you visit. I cleared a low impact ATV trail into the grove. If the sun is too hot for you bring your picnic bascket in here.






7/19/11 The cooler weather returned for a week and now its warming up again. We have not begun our irrigation yet except for the young Malbec and Carmenere vines. If we get several days of 80+ weather we will probably begin some irrigation of the dryest blocks in the next week.

An obvious question facing us this year is how does this year compare to last year in terms of ripening potential. Toward this end I pulled up some degree data from one of my eKo View sites in Calistoga which has clearn temp data for both years shown below. This is not the best data since it comes from an un shielded temp sensor located in the fruiting zone of a vine. The canopy size is likely affecting the data although it may be relevant. The graph is hard to read so here's the scoop. The degree days to date this year are 2% less than they were last year at this same time, 1885dF vs. 1926dF. To put this in perspective the total degree days for the year last year at this site were 3563dF. We are currently at the 53% point of the growing season or in other words we still have about half of the growing season left to go.

Last year was not a good year for ripening and we are slightly behind the pace of last year according to this which means we should be taking all measures available to us to improve the ripeness. The crop load appears less than last year due to 0-20% of berries not setting in the bunches. This is actually good. Dropping fruit is one option we have to improve ripening but, we are not quite ready to do this yet. The canopies are large and still growing even without irrigation due to the cool moist Spring. The most important thing we can do at this point is hedging to remove the shoot tips which are still growing and force more of the vines' energy into ripening the fruit. Since we don't have a hedger this task will have to be done by hand.

The weather was sufficiently cool that the Powdery Mildew index came down but, not enough to delay our sulfuring. Below is a nice shot of our spray rig working on Monday with Ezekiel behind the wheel. Our high velocity sprayer gives very good coverage which is especially important with the larger than normal canopies we have this year.

7/5/11 My how time flies. Bloom is far behind us and with 5 days of 90F + days in the last week as you can see in the graph below and photos the vines have been making up for lost growth time. what a change from 8 days back when the high temp was 57F and .61" of rain was falling.

The Powdery Mildew Index is now near its max value and we will be spraying again tomorrow, 7/7/11 for the 7th time. See the record of applications below. I repaired the sprayer nozzle servos for more precise aiming of the spray on the fruit zone. Prof. Gubler told us that there have been no signs of Powdery Mildew adapting to sulfur applications. The main reason it fails to prevent mildew is poor coverage. We have observed no signs of powdery mildew in the vineyards at all thus far.

We completed another pass of mowing and are now finishing up tucking shoots. The growth rate over the last week has been phenomenal. Who would imagine going through a week of 90F+ days without turning on the irrigation. Thanks to the half inch of rain last week, our soil moisture monitoring and good shoot tip visuals we are confident the vines are O.K. We are striving to achieve water stress to limit berry size before veraison which maximizes concentration and quality in general.

The photo below shows the view uphill from block K3L, tucked vines on the right, untucked on the left. Notice the shadows on the ground. Also notice that the vigor difference between the lower and upper parts of this block have been reduced due to our precision farming adjustments last year, both irrigation and fertigation were reduced in the lower half last year. K6 vigor also appears to have been reduced successfully.

Below is the actual soil moisture data. You can see one shot of water to the dryest block K1 that I did just to verify the irrigation system is working. Our target soil moisture to stress the vines to -13 Leaf Water Potential is 150cBar at 24"-36" depth. You can see that the soil hasn't dried to this level even at 12" yet.

Here are some more photos from the vineyard showing the state of the crop.

Here is a bunch in block K1.

This is the top of K1 before shoot tucking. Note the nice mowing job.

Below is K2U before shoot tucking. Note the Konrad Redwood grotto in the background.

Here is a view of the Malbec Block next to K2U. It's a great time to come up for a visit with 5 days of mid 80F highs forecast. Note the Landrover with the Parking brake set.

K3L or K4L fruit zone.

K5 shoot tips, still vigorously growing. No signs of water stress.

K5 Fruit set.

6/13/11 Konrad Vineyards has reached 50% bloom. Last year my comment was that fruit set was done as of 6/23/10. So far this year has been similar to last year.

We are hoping this similarity will end soon now that we have a couple of days of high 80s as you can see below. This plot shows nicely the week of low 70s before these 2 warm days and the week of days at the beginning of June that didn't make it above 60. .

Our petiole analysis came back and is shown below. We are not deficient in any nutrients that would require additional feeding. Boron and Zinc look good. I am a little surprised by the high nitrogen levels. We fertigated 1 month before these samples were taken so it is possible that there was strong uptake just at this time however, block K2L did not get any nitrogen application and is still showing a high level of nitrogen although lower than the others. Camalie Vineyards block 3 has always been nitrogen deficient in tests before this. I'm not sure of the significance of the Nitrate N values but, these seem to be very low and would be more consistent with my expectations for nitrogen content. The fertilzer we applied was Calcium Nitrate. The low nitrate levels hopefully are an indication that the high nitrogen levels are not due to the fertigation protocol.

6/8/2011 Konrad Vineyards' fruit is all SOLD OUT for 2011 as of today.

6/4/11 Raining last night and today 1.2" from this storm, 2" total since May 18. The cool temperatures continue to keep the powdery mildew index at zero. The good news is that the vines are not blooming yet so the rain and cold are not yet affecting the fruit set. The vines are a little spindly but, the leaves are big trying to capture the limited sunlight. When the sun comes out full again they will grow quickly. Check out this Merlot Leaf at Camalie Vineyards.

Trivia: Did you know that each flower on a grapevine has 5 stamens each producing 4000 grains of pollen? Grape vines are self pollinating and sometimes even pollinate before the caps fall. I also learned that the vines put their energy preferentially into the shoot tips rather than the flowers and that one can improve fruit set by clipping shoot tips. Randle had told me this about the Malbec last year and now I am reading the same thing in "Flowering and Fruit Set in Grapevines" by Peter May. We generally don't have trouble with fruit set in the Cabernet Sauvignon but, the Malbec and Carmenere may be candidates for this technique.

The rain has gone on long enough to effect soil as deep as 36" in some places. See graph below. We won't be doing much irrigation this year.

Here is a view looking over Camalie Vineyards today when the sun broke through for 30 seconds. It was too muddy to get up to Konrad vineyards.

I have a tentative committment for the fruit from K6 which leaves only K2L up for sale and I'm hoping Randle will take it again this year.

5/28/11 The cool weather is continuing with a third of an inch of rain falling this last Wednesday. The shoot lengths look typical. Ramon took Petiole Samples from K3U and K2L for testing. Results will be forthcoming.

5/11/11 All right, I know its a little late to be starting my blog for this year. I've been busy selling and installing wireless vineyard monitoring systems including a 17 node system at StageCoach Vineyards, the biggest grower in Napa Valley. See photo below.

We had budbreak around April 9, a little late but, not bad. Looking back bud break is typically around 3/10-3/20 but in 2006 it occurred around 4/15. We are heading toward bloom quickly now with the flowers looking good so far. Our light nitrogen only fertigation was done at the end of April only to the upper blocks, K1, K2U, K3U and K4U. We are just beginning our powdery mildew protection protocol. Sprayed wettable sulfur today, 5/11/11. Only 2 of 9 blocks remain uncontracted and we are in discussion with buyers for them now.

K1 on 4/15/11

K2L West Most

K2L East Most.

K2L Mid block


K4L ?

K5 looking NorthWest.

K5, Yates Family Vineyard in the far distance.

K2U 4/16/11 A week after budbreak.

Our Fertigation Pump and Tank.

Vineyard Dog Jasper. Too lazy to walk.

It's beautiful this time of year. Do come up for a visit. We are doing a barrel tasting on 5/21 with our wine coop friends if you have an opportunity.

Here is a photo I took last week from StageCoach Vineyards on the opposite side of the valley as I was planting soil moisture sensors. It was supposed to be a rainy day but, was one of the most beautiful days I have ever experienced. The East side of the Napa Valley is much dryer and has fewer trees. Lots of chapparal. Lots of red volcanic soils but some clays too. I still like Mt. Veeder Best.

All photography by Mark Holler. Copyright 2011

Konrad Grower's Blog 2009, 2010