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What is Millerandage and what does it have to do with chickens?

Millerandage (also known as hens and chicks, pumpkins and peas, and shot berries) is the condition in which grape bunches contain berries that differ greatly in size. This can be caused in a particular vineyard in a particular year by conditions at the time of fertilization of the grape flowers.

Now many people have never seen grape flowers. More’s the pity. To rectify that wrong, here’s a photo of flowering from this year. Not too showy, but the end result is magical!

Back to Millerandage. It also is a characteristic of some clones of some varietals. Chief among these is the old Wente clone of Chardonnay. Millerandage results in lower overall yields, making old Wente a poor choice for a grape grower economically. However, it results in higher skin to pulp ratio, and therefore more grape solids. We do not settle our Chardonnay after press — but instead go to barrel “dirty” and leave all of these solids to become part of the lees, producing a rich, textured mouthfeel. This makes the old Wente clone of Chardonnay one of our favorites.

 

 

 

 

The Nurmi Chardonnay vineyard is planted exclusively to old Wente, which is one of the reasons that it is a favorite vineyard of ours.


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