Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Edmonton Grapes September 19, 2011

We had a touch of frost on the grass in the backyard a few days ago but the long term forecast looks good until the end of September.  If the weather holds we should get a small crop of St. Croix and few clusters from the Acadie Blanc.

This is an update from the early September 2011 blog.  As of Sept 19th, the St. Croix has ripened to approximately 15 Brix and the seeds are turning brown.  The target is 18-19 brix.  The juice taste is noticeably less astringent and acidic.  What is interesting is that with 1 cluster per shoot, all the basal clusters are ripening at about the same speed but last year (see link to 2010) when we kept 2 - 3 clusters per shoot that wasn't the case.  Last year there was noticeable differences in basal clusters ripening at different times.  Here is a picture of one of the St. Croix clusters below,
The Acadie is also ripening up nice and has a brix of 15 as well.  The berries are noticeably soft and are becoming translucent.  Not many berries left on the clusters as I've been taking a 5 berry sample at each test.  Acadie Blanc can easily be picked at 17-18 brix.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Grapes Beginning to Ripen Sept 10, 2011

The grapes are starting to colour up and soften and the sugars are starting to accumulate.  Its the time of year to set the bug and/or bird netting out so the critters don't devour your grapes.  Visually, the vines are showing some signs of water stress, particularly the Ravat 34.  For certain I've over cropped the Ravat variety this year and some shoot thinning was required to help relieve some of the stress.  The vineyard has entered into a drought situation as there has been no usable rainfal since July 21st.  Usable rainfal is that which falls in such amount as to enter the ground and replenish soil moisture.  The only moisture the vines have access too is dew which forms overnight and settles on the leaves.  Long range forecast looks like a possibility of rain in about a week.

Analysis of the various varieties shows some are advancing to maturity faster than others, here is a list of average Brix measurements and observations taken on September 10th;
Lucy Kuhlman, Brix 12 - seeds turning brown, softening
Marechal Foch, Brix 10
Triompe D'Alsace, Brix 8 - *still irrigated
Colmar Precoce Noir, Brix 9.5 - *still irrigated
Leon Millot, Brix 11 -  seeds turning brown, softening
Ravat 34, Brix 7
Petite Milo, Brix 10.5 - softening
Cabernet Foch, Brix 7
Cabernet Libre, Brix 9

Lucy Kuhlman pictured below;

Leon Millot pictured below,
Ravat 34 pictured below;

Clearly the earlier Kuhlman varieties (Lucy Kulhman and Leon Millot) and Petite Milo are ripening the fastest.  Interestingly, Triompe D'Alsace and Colmar Precoce Noir are said to ripen even earlier then Leon Millot yet they are behind Leon Millot visually (skin colour and seeds) and by way of sugar accumulation.  However, the Triompe and Colmar have been provided regular irrigation and show no water stress.  Some literature articulates that deficit irrigation at veraison to harvest hastens maturity in grapes.  It is possible, and appears that the irrigation these varieties are receiving has slowed their rate of maturity in comparison to Leon Millot.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Edmonton Grapes September 2011

The St. Croix had a difficult year as the early hard frost (-6c) of September 15th, 2010 severely damaged alot of the buds and canes on the vines (see link to previous posting).  In fact, the killing frost did kill one of the St. Croix vines. So in re-establishing the vines this year I left only a little fruit and cluster pruned back to 1 cluster per shoot.  This should serve to build up the vigor of the vine and hasten the ripening of the grapes.  This summer has been cooler than the past two years and I was expecting the grapes to begin ripening (veraison) a little later this year.  Interestingly the grapes are right on schedule and the first grapes began to show colour yesterday September 5th.  This is the same as the past two years and shows no delay as a result of cooler summer temperatures this year.  However, the canes were cluster thinned this year to 1 cluster per shoot and this may have served to hasten the ripening despite the lack of heat.  St. Croix pictured below;

The Edelweise has re-established itself also after having died back to the ground.  The Acadie Blanc grew fantastic and is a huge vine with a few scraggly clusters that are ripening a bit ahead of the St. Croix.  The Baltica is doing fine for second year and hopefully will produce some grapes next year.  Like the Edelweise and St. Croix, the Baltica was severely damaged by the early hard frost of last September and it died back to the ground.  We've planted a few KW96-2 (Evangeline) to see how they make out in our cold winter but like the other vines we'll lay the canes down on the ground over the winter.  If we're lucky we'll get to the end of September without a frost and we will be able to get a gauge of sugar/acid balances in the St. Croix and Acadie.