Monday, July 6, 2020

Adding 2 Acres To The Vineyard

The next part of vineyard expansion is underway way and we started adding vines to the next 2 acres. This is the first batch of vines to go into this new section.

When we plan the vines we first use s 12" bit auger to drill a 3' deep hole for the vines to put them in the ground. The auger breaks up the layers of soil and the hole makes for an easy conduit for a tap root to get deep into the soil fast.

Perfect day for setting the vines in and the work crew was awesome. Next we will set out the trellis posts, wires, nd irrigation lines.
Auger Holes In Row

 Auger In Action

 Setting Out Vines

Planting The Vines

Friday, July 3, 2020

Bloom Time, but Late

As of July 1 the vines are about 50% in bloom. The Castel and Leon Millot are in full bloom or just past and the Ravat 34, Evangeline, and l'Acadie Blanc are just starting.
This is at least 1 week late for bloom but on par for the cool weather. Next few weeks look cool as well but so long as it doesnt rain through the rest of bloom time and we get some heat the vines should do well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Helpful Insects and Birds

One of the things Im on the look out for when I walk the vineyard rows is the presence of "bad" insects that may be damaging to to the vines. There are so many insects that could cause damage including beatles and leaf hoppers. The other thing Im looking for is the "good" insects such as spiders and wasps that keep the bad insects in balance. Really like seeing healthy populations of the good insects early on in the year and especially that they are doing thier job.

The spider below has captured something in its web.

Preditory wasps are helpful as well at capturing bad bugs

The other vineyard friends are the birds, particularly the robins. They are great at pucking off beatles and caterpillars that otherwise would make a salad out of tender emerging grape vine leaves. But these are our fickle friends in that come fall they'd be more than happy to clean the vines of all the ripe grapes. 

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Delayed Vine Growth for 2020

With the cooler weather so far in May and June the vines are a little behind what we have been use too. May came in at about an average temperature of 12.6c and June is starting out cool. But even the past few years that have started out this way we have balanced off with high heat in the summer and fall ripening season. In both 2017 and 2014 we started off in a similar manner and yet by the end of the growing season we still accumulated between 1000 and 1100 degree days growing celcius (1800 to 1980 degree days growing fahrenheit). Hoping this year is similar.

All the varieties are looking good except some varieties we converted to hanging curtain trellis as the trellis is not as well populated with growth as it should be. This year will be a correction year to get those vines on track for that type of trellising. Vines are at about the 5th leaf stage for growth now and should be flowering at the end of June. Here is how they look;

Marechal Foch

Leon Millot


St. Croix


Ravat 34

L'Acadie Blanc

Petite Millot

The cool and wet weather has presented great conditions for downey mildew growth and while our varieties have natural resistance to this fungus the prolonged poor conditions has resulted in some spots of this fungus appearing. Hoping for nice sunny dry weather going forward especially into the flowering stage.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Bud Break 2020

Bud break is a bit late this year, we havent had a stretch of really hot weather to push those buds out. But its comming and the Marechal Foch is comming out fast.

The Castel and Leon Millot are comming on too and in the next week all the varieties will be out with the Triompe and Evangeline the last to leaf out.

Most of the varieties are looking good, even with the heavy snow we had.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Spring Pruning and Hanging Curtains

Beautiful time of year and its always a surprise to find what has happened under the snow over the winter. It reveals so many questions...what is the bud survival rate, is there any damage to vines, what trellis wires need tightening etc. etc.
This year we had 5 feet of snow on the ground in mid winter. This is the most we've ever had and with this much snow it builds up and compacts and becomes dense and heavy (ice like) and freezes to the trunk and cordons of the vine. As the snow melts at ground level and more falls on top, the trunk and cordons get pulled with the snow and ice and ripped off the fruit wires. The photo below shows a cordon arm (right side) that was pulled from the vine trunk.
So we are moving all varieties that can be trained to a top wire to the hanging curtain method. This includes Marechal Foch, Leon Millot, and Petite Millot. This will keep the canes above the snow in winter especially when we do the November preliminary pruning.  But the L'Acadie Blanc and Evangeline are not suited to a top wire, hanging curtain training style, so we will have to keep those vines as vertical shoot position style (VSP). Pruning itself doesn't take too long but pruning and retraining vines does. The photo below shows the row on the right is VSP trained and not pruned and the row on the left is now pruned and retrained to hanging curtain.
Hanging curtain is supposed to give better fruit sun exposure and is supposed to be easier to manage vine training and tucking over the summer. But in very hot areas the fruit may be prone to sun burn..We'll see how it works out this year.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Valley of the Springs Winery

So a few years back (well about 10) I blogged about Sunset Ridge Vineyard and the fantastic grapes they were growing in the west Kootnays region of British Columbia. See previous blog link here.

The vineyard has now become a winery and my friend Jody Scott and family in Nakusp, B.C,  opened Valley of the Springs Winery this year. I ordered a case of wine and so far sampled the Marechal Foch and Vista. The Foch is about the best Ive ever tasted across Canada, and the Vista, a blend of Seigerrebe, Ortega and Madeline Angevine is outstanding. These are absolutely top quality wines - grown, hand picked and vinified in small batches by the owners. Just wow....

If your a wine lover this is the wine to buy

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.