Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Hot and Dry

Each year is different and you see that some years start out very similar to other years gone by but things can change very quickly. This year was cool in May and June resulting in delayed flowering into the 2nd week of July for some varieties. And since then its been 4-5 weeks since weve had any measurable rain and on top of that its been the second hottest July we've recorded with several days in the 40c area.

The heat has been tough on the new vines as they do not have a big enough root structure to draw moisture and keep the leaves hydrated but they are doing ok and showing remarkable resiliancy. We've made several passes to remove weak, late, and 3 and 4th clusters to improve the overall ripeness of the crop we want to keep. Above you can seea 3rd cluster further along the cane that has now been removed.

The vines have caught up some what and despite the lack of rain the mature vines are doing well and the grape development is pretty good. As of the beginning of August we were already seeing some clusters approaching bunch closure (Aug 5 photo) and we are probably 7-10 days away from veraison and that means we'll be netting soon.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Grapes Are Looking Good

 Mid summer and the end of July finds us in a good but bad situation.

The good news is the grapes have pretty much never looked better. Big full clusters, no sign of fungi, very healthy vines and tremendous growth in the heat weve had the past 3 weeks.

On the other hand we were 7-10 days late in flowering and the grape development is about 1 week behind. 

Question is do we have enough heat and long enough season to get the grapes to an acceptable ripeness?

Of course we can predict that outcome but if we have a bit of an extended fall..even for a few days and the heat continues we can make up for some of the early season delay.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Summer - Better Late Than Never

Well following an uninspiring cool spring we entered summer but without the heat. The heat is now here having arrived the second week of July with temps in the +30c area.

Although all the vines are at least 7-10 days late we are now seeing remarkable growth and grape clusters growing very fast. And wow...first time in several years there is no forest fire smoke in mid-July, or nearby forest fires.

Weve been tieing and tucking canes the last few days and canes that were too short to tie are growing fast enough that they were long enough to tie up the next day.

Marechal Foch and Leon Millot look good, in fact everything looks good so far. Foch below.

Oddly we were propegating Evangeline and some Vandal Cliche outdoors and the cool wet weather in spring caused most of the canes, particularly the Vandal Cliche, to rot or push shoots then was that cool and wet.

The growth on the new planting of vines put out last fall and this spring is comming along slowly and the heat should now help to bring the vines into some significant growth.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Slow Crawl into Summer

The weather is really the wild card every season. Some aspects are controllable, including the type of vine you choose to grow - matching it as best as possible to the location, the soil inputs to meet the needs of the vines, pest and competing vegitation control as well. But the rain fall, sunshine and heat vary from year to year.

As is the case this year, its been really cold, perhaps the coldest May we've recorded in 14 years and an average June but quite cool at the start and only at the back end hitting the high 20's and low 30's. We'll be a week behind normal for flowering but with a normal summer and fall the rest of the way we can expect a decent year. 

Who knows perhaps we'll get and extra week or two in the fall before frost settles in. In any event the vines are looking good so far, crop load adjustments are made with shoot and pre-bloom cluster thinning  and its nice to see the L'Acadie and Castel starting to mature with bigger and more clusters on each vines.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Cold Spring

 So you'll notice the choice of words "cold" to describe the weather. Its been cold with May vomming in at about 11c average for the month and everything is delayed. An average May temperature is about 12.7c.

Bud break was about May 23-26 and this puts it at the latest weve ever experienced,  normal is around May 18-21.

With danger of any late frost having passed weve now completed the secondary pruning and we just need some heat now.

We are also moving from treated wooden posts to metal and weve now switched over 25% of the vineyard.


Monday, May 9, 2022

Vineyard Expansion Continues

So a few years back we began clearing more land to expand the vineyard. The piece of land next to the vineyard was full on forest land and took a few seasons to both clear the land and prepare for planting.

Clearing the land to use it for farming takes alot of work and again a big thank to to Crescent Bay Construction for the heavy work in clearing the trees. We took dozens of cords of wood off the land and more thanks to Shane Raymond. Here is the land clearing. see link

We burned up the residual (very dirty work) and then cleaned the land of large unburned stumps etc., and again a big thank you to Shane Raymond in helping with that. Burning is dirty work. see link

We been ploughing to prepare the land and the soil here is excellent silty/ much different than in the rocky original test vineyard. Since then we've been planting new vines such as Leon Millot and Marquette, both reds. Also, one of the vines going in this area is Evangeline. This "made in Canada" grape is not available for purchase commercially so we've had to propegate our own. More info on Evangeline.

The last group of Evangeline are being propegated this year and will be planted in the fall of 2022 or spring of 2023. Alot of new vines in the ground from last fall and this spring in this new area and its nice to finally see it filling in.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Pruning and Planting

 May 1st and things are a bit behind this year with the weather. We usually have some small early leaves comming out on the trees last 2 weeks of April but just starting to see that now.

We have finished the 1st round of pruning to get rid of most of last years growth. But we still leave double the bud count just in case there is a late spring frost (remembering last year). Lots of bleeding from the vine as soon as you prune it.

Late May, we'll do a second prune to adjust bud count for proper crop load and do another adjustment to cluster prune in early July.

We also have some Marquette to plant and we will get those in the ground in the next few days.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Spring 2022

Well just like that the snow was all but gone in just a few days and this led to first round of pruning. This next 3 images are March 28, 29 and could pretty much see the snow dissapearing.

We had -23.5 c as a low this winter and generally that doesnt hurt our vines too much. Most of the prunings look healthy and green and a few varieties..Foch and L'Acadie were really pushing sap from the pruning ends and some buds were showing scale crack here and there.

Our next round of pruning will be early-mid May, once any danger of frost has passed and we will prune to adjust bud count for a proper crop load.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Departs With Damaging Cold (But Not For Us)

We rarely see cold in the -23c area, in fact up until a few days ago we've only seen these temperatures 2 times in the past 14 years - now its 3 times. On December 27th we got a cold blast that took us to the -23c zone and the entire region was blanketed with the bone chilling cold. That temperature is ok for us, but some other areas in the Okanagan were not spared and endured colder temperatures down to -27c and added wind chill values as low as -38c. For us -23c is not a critical temperature as nearly all our commercial varieties have good cold tolerance to about -27c or colder but still we prefer a bit warmer winter for both the vines and our sake.

For most vinifera varieties like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot etc., -23c is kind of the make it or break it zone as these varieties don't have much cold tolerance beyond -23c. So this is bad news for some grape growing areas in BC. Kamloops was in a deep freeze for a few days in the -27c zone as was Kelowna showing -27c on both December 27th and December 28th and wind chill values in Kamloops were -38c and Kelowna -34c. That's not good and some bud, if not trunk, damage can be expected but we will hope for the best for those out there as you really never know what this all means until the spring comes.


Lots of winter ahead of us yet and about 1 foot of snow on the ground so far, the big snow usually comes in January-February. We are hoping for milder winter temperatures to take us into spring and if -23c is as cold as we get then we are good.

As we end 2021 we reflect on the challenging year for weather in BC, -24c cold in February, -2c record breaking frost in late May, record breaking +46c heat in early July, forest fire threats in July and August, record breaking rain and destruction in November and now -23c in December....but we also look forward to the new year and the next growing season with excitement.

Hoping for a better year in 2022 and wishing everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous new year!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Harvest 2021

I think we will remember 2021 as a very challenging year. It started in February with a -24.5c cold blast that damaged buds on many varieties, to a record late spring frost in May that killed about 30-40% of the crop and some vines. The image below shows several buds that were killed by the frost.

What we learned though was some of our varieties are quite fruitful on the secondary buds...the image above shows the primary bud that was killed by the frost but then the secondary bud just below it growing nicely and showing 3 flower clusters emerging.

Then five weeks later we had records of 46c temperatures in July that killed some of the crop and damaged the fruit, which later led to fungal pressure on the grapes. The intense heat split the grapes that were exposed to the sun while the shaded side was fine. Same cluster below shade side and sun side.

The intense heat brought forest fire pressures a few weeks later and forest fires very close to the vineyard but the winds changed in time and our area was spared. We got some rain in mid-August that helped suppress the fires

The heat also led to a very serious forest fire threats and many mitigation efforts on our part, but also the fire displaced many animal and the scourge of them getting into the vineyard and eating the grapes (birds, gophers, skunks, raccoons, and bears) despite the netting.

In the end what we harvested was well ripened and we recorded the most heat over the season at over 1100 DDG over 160 frost free days and we also planted about 3000 row feet of new vines.

 We also lucked out with nice weather through harvest. We will post the final ripeness and climate data in a few weeks.

 Already looking forward to next year.