Saturday, February 1, 2020

Marechal Foch Rose' Wine

In an earlier blog I talked about how dark red the juice of the Marechal Foch grape is (see link).

We just bottled the rose' wine and you can see how coloured the wine is. This is just the juice fermented right after crush and press with no skin contact.

Often people try this wine they think its a red wine and by colour alone its easily taken as such. But the flavour and aroma is so rich in cherry, plum fruit, and melon to some degree its at odds with what most know as a red wine flavour profile, even for light fruity red wines - virtually no tannin and no oak.

Slightly acidic and perfectly in balance to the residual sugar, few wines have as fruity profiles as those in the Kuhlman family of grapes (Marechal Foch, Leon Millot, Luch Kuhlman, Triompe D'Alsace and others) and his one is dangerously tasty. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Warm Winter - Big Snow

Its been a really warm winter so far and up until end of December not too much snow. The coldest temperature to January 7, 2020 is about -10c, do not cold at all. That said there was abour 2 feet of snow on the ground at the end of December but nearly 3 feet of snow has fallen in the last week.

We dont want much more to fall as if the snow gets too deep it becomes destructive to the vines and tellises. What happens is the deeper the snow gets the more like ice it becomes near the base as it compacts from the weight of snow on top. As more snow accumulates, the snow column becomes more wet, dense and ice like the closer it gets to the soil surface. It melts at the bottom due to ground heat and the height of the column of snow slowly drops. As new snow falls this becomes a slow movements of the column of snow like a conveyor belt from top of snow dropping to the soil surface over time.

As the snow begins to turn to ice it locks on to what ever is around it, such as trellis supports, fencing, or the trunk of the vines. Then as that snow continues to drop towards to soil surface it pulls what ever it has attached to with it. It will pull the vines right off the trellis wires and collapse the vines right to the ground. If the vines are not ripped off the trellis wires it can actually collapse the trellises and end posts as we experienced 2 years ago.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Marechal Foch - Rose' ?

One thing that you immediately see when you crush and press Marechal Foch grapes is the juice is already dark red. Many other varieties of red wine grape, like Pinot Noir, have clear juice so that when you crush and press those grapes there is virtually no red tints. Often to make a rose' with those grapes you need to soak the grapes on the skins for a day or so to extract a bit of red color to make the rose' wine. To get red wine from Pinot Noir you need to ferment Pinot Noir on the skins for several days after which the red colour is slowly extracted from the skins. This is not the case with Foch.

Sibling grape of Marechal Foch is Leon Millot and the juice from Leon Millot looks the same as Foch. No wonder Leon Millot was called "the wine medicine" by French wine makers who use to blend Leon Millot with Pinot Noir to enhance the red wine colour of the Pinot Noir.

So here is Marechal Foch grapes, cluster 1 and 2 from a shoot and the very dark red juice that presses from this variety. Ive made Rose' from Foch before and well, its hard to call it Rose', its juice is just naturally too dark in colour...but it can be made in the Rose' style and makes amazing wine in this style.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Grape Harvest 2019

Was a good year overall with average heat but above average rain. The grapes and clusters were big and heavy. Some cracking on a few varieties due to the water in the soil. Sugars are about 1 brix lower on most varieties but grape size and bunch weight is much higher than usual. Foch clusters were in the 75 to 125 gram range where 70 grams is more usual.

Marchal Foch pictured

Here are some of the brix numbers for Red grapes;
Castel   21
Pinot Noir  17
Colmar    21
Triompe D'Alsace 20
Marechal Foch 20
Marquette 20
Leon Millot 20
St Croix 18

Here is brix numbers for some of the White grapes
Evangeline 21
Petite Milo 20
Cayuga 18
L'Acadie Blanc 20
Ravat 34 17
Vandal Cliche 20
Sovereign Ruby 19

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Vandal Cliche Grape

We have been experimenting with Vandal Cliche for several years and it has proven itself at our vineyard time and again.
This grape was created in Quebec by Joseph Vandal and Mario Cliche to match the harsh winter climate and relatively short growing season there. It definately has winter hardiness and does well even to -30 to -35 celcius. Like the cold Quebec climate I have seen it proven to be grown in climates such as Edmonton, Alberta as well. It is also pretty good at with standing fungal pressure and we have never experience fungus on this grape. Its a pretty big producer at about 100 grams/clusters and 2 per shoot. We crop this one at 5-6 shoots per trellis foot.

It can ripen to 20-21 brix and easily does so at our site at 1000+ degree days celcius and 150 frost free days and it has high malic acid so ML fermentation is usually needed.  Those who have produced this grape for years and make wine from it commercially suggest it is best harvested early, around 16-17 brix. Apparently this grape accumulates more labruska notes as it matures.

So if one were to harvest this grape at 16-17 brix, for our location, this is at about 130 frost free days and about 900 degree days growing. On September 14, 2019 at the vineyard it was already showing 16 brix. In 2018, it was 17 brix by September 10th.  It may be a really good white grape for shorter season locations with harsher winter climates. 

Ive tasted a few of these wines made from Vandal Cliche and they are very nice, crisp, citrus and neutral, but again - nice. Thank you Mr. Vandal and Mr. Cliche.  See link for more info on this variety.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Grape Splitting

One of the things that can happen with some grape varieties is that they are prone to splitting. For those varieties that experience this it happens during the ripening stage and often after a big rain.

As the grapes ripen there are a number of things that happen that collectively can converge in disaster for grapes prone to splitting. First off as the grapes ripen they swell with juice and the skin softens. This is also the same time of sugar accumulation and acids drop in the juice.

The biggest issue is the on-set of bunch rot or sour rot from fungal pressure that a avails itself from the split in the grape skin. This often occurs after a big rain as the vine takes up the moisture and transfers it to already swollen grapes...the result is some of the grapes on the bunch can split open.

Ravat 34 with split grape in centre of the bunch

So this is where the problems start as the same conditions that contribute to the grapes splitting..that is the rain and associated high humidity and cooler weather are the same conditions that spur on the growth of bunch rot and sour rot.

Once the grape splits open, the opening invites the mold spores to grow in the low acid high sugar environment in the ripening grape.

Hard to stop without fungal spray but some cultural practices like shoot thining and bunch area leaf removal are known to help by allowing better air flow and sunlight around the bunches.

Ravat 34 is prone to this, and Colmar a bit as well but less so. So we pull the leaves ftom around the clusters when they start to ripen.

Ravat 34 with leaf removal around clusters

Sunday, September 15, 2019

September 2019 Grape Ripeness

So far so good, as of September 13 the grapes are ripening well and on par with most years. As usual we could just about be harvesting the Evangeline and Seyval Blanc as both are looking good. The Marquette is not far behind followed by Triompe D'Alsace, Leon Millot and Marechal Foch. Here is what the sugar numbers look like so far...with z few photos as well

Leon Millot - 17 brix
Marechal Foch - 17 brix
Ravat 34 - 14 brix
L'Acadie Blanc - 17 brix
Marquette - 19 brix
Petite Milo - 18 brix
Evangeline - 20 brix
Colmar - 18 brix
Triompe D'Alsace - 17 brix
Lucy Kuhlman - 19 brix
Cayuga - 14 brix
Pinot Noir - 15 brix
Castel - 18 brix
Sovereign Ruby - 16 brix
St. Croix - 16 brix
Vandal Cliche - 16 brix
Seyval Blanc - 19 brix

L'Acadie Blanc

Leon Millot

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

New Grape Vines From Grape Seeds

Every so often I see that some of the grapes that have dropped from the vine end up growing into vines. This is often how new varieties of grapes have emerged over the years.

Grape vines are of course the offspring of two different grapes types and the offspring carries genetic components from both parents. When breeding grape vines the breeders will have hundreds if not thousands of seedlings that emerge from crossing two grape vines. The grapes that result from the cross are then planted and those that grow are raised for a few years to see what genetic components they carry. 

Each seed represents a different potential grape vine and often grapes from the same cluster on a vine will produce entirely different grape vines when the seeds grow into vines.

We often see small vines starting to grow under the established grape vines in a row. They usually dont amount to much as they are over taken by weeds or if they get too big we pull them out.

However, have a look at the small grape vines growing in the picture below, you can clearly see the difference in leaf colour for the seedlings growing side by side that have emerged.  These seedling came from grapes that fell off of the Marechal Jofffre vines - probably from the same cluster.

Marechal Joffre is a cross between 101-14 MGt and Goldriesling.  The genetic traits that these  sibling vines are showing already are very different. It would be interesting to see what type of grape they produce. Marechal Joffree is a blue grape but perhaps the grapes from one of these seedlings could be green. The Goldriesling is an old vinifera and if you could see the leaf tips of the light green vine it does have more of a vinifera appearance, however the leaves are less of a vinifera appearence.

We may keep a few of these around just to see what happens with them.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Leaf Pull to Expose Grapes

One technique that is often applied to grapes is to remove leaves around the clusters of the grapes. The idea behind this is to expose the grapes to sunlight, and to improve airflow to lower the potential for fungus or rot.

Leaf pull is usually done at veraison, when the grapes begin to ripen and this usally involves removing the first 1-2 leaves on a shoot. These are the leaves that will be closest to the clusters.

Veraison started about August 8 at Arrow lakes Vineyard with the Evangeline softening and the Triompe D'Alsace and Foch starting to turn from green to red. And with that, we did a preliminary leaf pull around the Ravat 34. Bottom photo is Triompe D'Alsace starting to ripen.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Arrow Lakes Vineyard Biodiversity

Arrow Lakes Vineyard is located in a unique area of Britsh Columbia not only for its climate but the spectrum of wildlife and insects.

We usually get significant rainfall right up until July which lends to old growth tall cedars. They call this area the interior rain forest and some of the old cedars are hundreds of years if not 1000+ years old with trunks 10-20 feet across. Pockets of theses old cedars can be found from Edgewood all the way to Revelstoke. 

Biodiversity in this area is amazing with the spectrum of wildlife including; moose, elk, mountain cariboo, cougar, grizzly and black bear and more. Our 7' fence keeps the big animals out but one of the unique creatures that make thier home in the rock piles around the vineyard are the northern aligator lizard as seen below. They and the garter snakes are great for keeping the grass hopper populations down. The spiders and preditory wasps also help keep the other insects in check. 

There are giant black 7 inch slugs and toads the size of your hand...not sure how they fit in to the ecosystem, but they are interesting.

We have tried to preserve the natural habitat as much as possible, incorporating the vineyard into it, rock piles included, and the local creatures are enbracing it as much as we are.