Here’s a very synthetic analysis for you of the problems which have characterized a good part of the 2014 viticultural year in Langa. My intent is to make you partners in the difficulties which we have faced and which we will face again for the next few days.
1) A lot of water, not just for quantity but frequency. It only rained for a few minutes but almost everyday.
2) Vigor. The large amount of water absorbed by the ground makes the plants grow, focusing more on the vegetation than on the fruit.
3) Big grapes and thin skins because of the great amount of accumulated water in the ground, with the resulting risk of breaking and possible fungal infections.
4) Esca is a fungus which closes the xylem vessels and causes the plant to dry out. You need to remove the vines to avoid new infections. In rainy years the danger of this parasite increases.
5) Leafhoppers, an insect which bites the margins of the leaves. In previous years this problem didn’t pass any danger limits. The cool temperatures have contributed to its proliferation.
6) Downy mildew. There isn’t a vineyard in Langa which hasn’t been attacked by this fungus at least once. We fight it with copper. The frequency of the rain has activated the spores of this pathogen more often.
7) The hail at the end of July caused us to lose 30% of our product with additional damage to the bunches and leaves. However, I still consider myself fortunate if I think that only a few kilometers away in Barolo/Novello/Monforte the damage reached 70%.
Now we are at the end of August, the harvest is coming and I want to help my plants completely ripen with healthy grapes, weakening and limiting the problems listed above. However, we have to intervene immediately with strong pruning, especially in the young vineyards and on the barbera vines, eliminating all of the leaves around the bunch as well as some of the bunches themselves, limiting the sources of humidity in this way. As always September will be fundamental.
I’ve been reading on social networks that there are many unhappy producers this year, pessimists and catastrophists. I believe that it’s too early to tell, especially if we’re talking about late varieties like nebbiolo. However, I won’t hide that this year is complicated and delicate, where the producer’s timing and decisions will have a fundamental value on the quality of the grape. It is definitely an expensive year for the numerous interventions via mechanical and manual means. It’s enough to think of the 17 anti-fungal treatments we’ve done and the precision pruning/selection, which focus on the number of bunches as well as the the different parts of each bunch.