Monday, November 23, 2009

Sources of Vines

I've grown all my vines from cuttings and for the most part have had very good success. Where I've had difficulty with cuttings has usually been a result of poor quality cuttings that I've received from a supplier.

Getting the cuttings to grow is a very easy process;
1) get the cuttings from a supplier, keep them cool, wrapped in plastic with a slightly moist paper towel in the refrigerator until your ready to go.
2) soak the cuttings in room temperature water for 24 hours before you plan to plant them.
3) Using a sharp pruning tool, nip about 1 cm off the bottom of the cutting.
4) Dip the cutting in a root hormone (I use the powder stuff from Home Depot).
5) Plant the cutting in a 4" x 4" biodegradeable (compressed peat moss) planters and fill with 50/50 peat moss - perlite mixture.
6) litely pack the planting mixture into the pot around the cutting.
7) Place the pots on a heat mat so that the bottom of the cuttings are warmed to about 75-80 degres F.
8) Water good the first time so the mixture is moist. After the first day you'll probably see the sides of the pots have soaked up most of the water.
9) Water again when the sides of pots are drying out.
10) Keep the pots in a cool (60-65 degrees F), dark room for the first 2-3 weeks (this allows the cuttings to begin to form roots before the buds leaf out).
11) After 2-3 weeks give the cuttings lite and more heat (70-75 F) room air temp.
12) After about 4 weeks (maybe sooner - maybe later) you'll probably see roots poking out the bottom of the pots and your cuttings will have leaves.
13) When you see the roots poking out, transfer the plants to the ground if it's warm enough, or to larger pots until you can plant them outside.


Unless you are intimately aware of the regulations regarding movement of plant materials (grapes or otherwise and this includes cuttings) in and out of provinces in Canada with respect to the Plant Protection Act, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND you contact your local Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) office to ensure you can do so legally. Last thing you want to do is break the law and/or be known for being the person who importing a pest from another location to a place where the pest didn't exist.

I mentioned in a recent blog about new varieties for 2010 and about adding Joffre to the test vineyard in BC. The Joffre cuttings are going to come from my plants that I'm growing in Alberta. Now, there is no movement restrictions on cuttings comming from Alberta to BC, HOWEVER, the cutings originally came from Nova Scotia and there is a ban on movement of grape plants or plant material from Nova Scotia to BC. There is no ban on movement of cuttings from Nova Scotia to Alberta. However, to reduce any possibility that a pest got transported with the original cuttings and now exists on the plants I have in Alberta, the CFIA would like my cuttings that I'll take from my Alberta vines, treated here in Alberta before moving them to BC. The treatment, is a simple process of submerging your cuttings in hot water. I wont go into the full details of the treatment here but once you complete the treatment, which eradicates the pest, the CFIA will provide a "movement certificate" which then will allow me to legally move the cuttings to BC and more importantly ensure I'm not going to bring a pest to BC on my cuttings.

If you have any questions on movements or pests, call your local office of the CFIA.

I'll do an update on the treatment, process, costs, and propegation success rate this spring when I have the treatments done.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Frost Control and Bird Netting

We're training the vines up to a 5 foot fruit wire in 2010. So far it appears the winter cold is not as much as an issue as early fall frost. So by raising the wire from 22 inches to 5 feet we wont have the bennefit of the snow cover in the winter however, the fruit wire at this height offers a few degrees of frost protection.

Good research on this

We're also looking at bird netting as we are going to need it but there are some on the market that provide a degree or two of frost protection. Were going to try this out and see if it works.

We're not really worried about the frost because the varieties we've chosen appear to be early enough for our site that it should not matter. Having said that, being able to let the grapes hang a week or two could do wonders for the juice chemistry perhaps increasing the brix 1 or 2 points while dropping the acid to levels if it happens to be a bit high - we'll see.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Grape varieties for 2010

We have decided to add some new varieties for 2010 and drop the Perle of Csaba. The Perle, while early, apparently is very prone to disease. Disease resistance is a primary consideration for the vines we want to plant so with that in mind we've decided not to plant it. As it stands we have Ortega and will be planting Seigerrebe in 2010. Both are early and both have disease pressures - we don't need another one. However, I did read on the BC government agriculture site that Ortega apparently has some disease resistance to rot and powdery ---- we'll see.

In 2010, with the Seigerrebe we are going to plant Acadie Blanc, DeChaunac, Lucy Kuhlman, Marechal Joffre, and Seyval Blanc, Zweigelt, and Castel.

The Acadie Blanc is a Nova Scotia wine staple that produces an excellent white wine that can be made into a few different styles similar to chardonnay, chablis or a sparkling wine. It is early and disease resistant. I've had this one from several vineyards in Nova Scotia and all have been good to very good.

The Dechaunac and Zweigelt is mid-season and would likely test the limits of our ability to ripen these varieties not by way of heat but in frost free days. The Dechaunac has some disease resistance and can produce excellent red wines not dissimilar to Pinot Noir with good aging potential. House of Rose Vineyard in BC makes an excellent Dechaunac. We enjoyed a 1999 vintage of Dechaunac this year (10 years old) from the House of Rose and it was at the end of it's optimum shelf life but still excellent. Zweigelt to me is like a Gamay and by some accounts also has marginal disease resistance. Arrow Leaf Vineyard in BC makes a nice Zweigelt. Both varieties are heavy producers.

The Seyval Blanc is also mid-season and produces an excellent white wine that can be made into a few different styles. Jost Vineyard in Nova Scotia does this one better than anyone else I've tried.

Lucy Kuhlman and Marechal Joffre are sibling vines to Marechal Foch and Leon Millot. All four were created from the same cross by Eugene Kuhlman of France. The LK and MJ both are said to be earlier ripening than the Foch or Millot and have excellent disease resistance and cold hardiness. Sounds good so far. I've tried two vintages of Lucy Kuhlman from different Nova Scotia vineyards and both had a slight herbaceous flavour but nice fruit and high brix/alcohol. I've not seen anyone who makes a Joffre varietal wine and few that grow it, seems to be used more as a blender. However, some literature (Northern Wine Works) points to Joffre as having similar flavour qualities to Foch, but a little less fruit flavour and also less acid at harvest - well see. (see the September 9th, 2009 post Grapes in Edmonton for more on Joffre)

Castel 19637 is early ripening, cold hardy and disease resistant. It makes an excellent mid weight red wine. Wine quality from this variety in Nova Scotia is excellent. Some grow it in BC on Vancouver Island for a varietal - Cherry Point Vineyard, but others use it more for a blender. Link to full blog

Monday, November 9, 2009

Agria Wine and Grapes

It has been a while since I've posted a blog but have to talk about a wine I recently tried. It came from Southend Farm Vineyard in BC ( The wine is made from the Agria grape also known as Turan. In fact this is what Southend call's it "Turan". This red Hungarian variety has found a home in BC on Vancouver Island and the other Wine Islands between Vancouver island and the mainland. This variety is a very early ripening red vinifera grape and a robust producer with deep red juice. We are testing this varety at our site.

Now, I've tried a few other wines made from this variety incuding a big red not unlike a big Italian red which came from Marley Vineyard which was quite nice. Also, another nice one with fruity strength and some age potential from Crabrea Vineyard. Both these are vineyards in BC in the wine Islands.

What is different about the Southend Farm Vineyard Turan is that they craft the wine the same as you would a white wine by crushing and pressing the grapes and fermenting the juice without the skins. You wouldn't know that it was fermented without the skins by looking at their Turan wine, as it has a beautiful cherry red colour. This is the natural colour of the juice from the grape. This wine has a pronounced fruity aroma to it, crisp taste and finish not dissimilar to a lite crisp white wine. For me this is a very nice summertime wine, that should be enjoyed chilled.