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/sand...so 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 30th...you 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.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Planting New Vines from Spring Cuttings

In the spring I blogged about growing grape vines from cuttings for fall planting. You can go back to the previous blog to see how the cuttings progressed from May to present, - here is the May 2021 post and here is the June 2021 post

We grow the cuttings in a 1 foot x 1 foot container in 2 inch by 2 inch sleeves. This gives us 36 vines per square foot incubator. The propegation rate was approximately 75% and would have been higher but we lost probably 10% due to the intense 44c heat we had in early July. However, of the cuttings that did grow into vines, we only planted out the best vines from each group. The result is about 65% of the cuttings were strong enough with big enough roots to move into the field. The other ones that were smaller and weaker are going to be left in the incubator and grown bigger next year and will be planted out in the field next fall.

In mid September the vines had achieved good growth over the summer and were ready to move from the nursery to the field. Here is a picture of the group of vines that have been extracted from the incubator. The roots are somewhat tangled and have to be gently separated. Once separated they can be planted in the ground. 


This picture below shows the both the top growth and root growth of the vine that occurred from the cutting planted in may. All in all we planted out 1500 row feet this past week and we have another 1500 row feet to get planted in the next few weeks. Next spring we will plant 3000 more row feet of vines.



Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Fires are Holding

 Truely amazing how fast things change from a few small fires in the distance that were not really a threat to massive fires just a few kilometers away and evacuation.

In the past few days winds have bern in our favour and the fires have not advanced much and fire crews have been able to fortify defences. So we are downgraded to evacuation alert.

We were able to come back and first priority is clearing a bigger perimeter around the buildings. Going to miss those nice trees around the house but weve got lots fire wood for next year.


It is still very smoky and you can barely see the trees on the next hill and lots of ash falling ..can see it on the truck canopy and the vines.



On the bright side the grapes are comming along pretty good with some approaching bunch closure so they will be turning colour soon. And there is a possibility of rain in the next week so we hope for a good soaker and no lightning.




Thursday, July 22, 2021

Forest Fires Are Threatening

 Arrow Lakes Vineyard is located in the central Kootenays of British Columbia. Logging is the primary vocation in the area and the vineyard was carved out of a forested area and for the most part the entire region is forested. 


This year like so many in the recent past has seen threat of forest fires but this year is different as we have fires all around us. Just 7 days ago a few small fires started due to lightning strikes in remote areas and in such a short time the have each grown into huge fires over 3000 hectares and moved quickly to become threatening. There is a huge fire just a few kms away across Arrow Lakes. We have another big one to the south about 15km that is slowly coming up the lake shore towards the vineyard. And we have a new fire started from lighting strike about 12km to the north of the vineyard. Here is a picture of the fire on the east side of Arrow Lakes and a map view of the two big fires.

The area including the vineyard is under evacuation order. Our thoughts go out to our friends and neighbors and those displaced from the fires and the police and fire responders.