Saturday, July 13, 2013

Vineyard Expansion

After five years of growing we have both a picture of the climate, soil, and what vines work and what do not. When we started out we wanted to plant a vineyard with Leon Millot, Castel and Acadie Blanc and we know now that the Castel does not like our sandy soil.  On the other hand the Leon Millot is doing quite well, remarkably so considering we've virtually applied no fertilizer or soil amendments to our 85% nutrient void sandy soil.  Interesting is that I've read several accounts that the Kuhlman varieitiees like the sandy soil, so for reds we've got lots to choose from including the Leon Millot, Foch, Lucy Kuhlman, Joffre, Triompe D'Alsace, and Colmar Precoce Noir.

Two and Three summers ago we opened up the area to the east and the west of the vineyard to see the lay of the land and if it was suitable for grape growing and discovered that we have approximately 4 acres of land suitable for grape growing.  We've also another 1-2 acres on other parts of the property, but for now this area remains forested.

This summer we are beginning to prepare the land we opened up for planting of approximately 0.5 acre of Leon Millot for next year 2014 and perhaps another 0.5 acre for 2015.  We are looking at 4-5 foot spacing and 7 foot between the rows - similar to what we've used in parts of the experimental vineyard (4x7).

We are also liking how the Foch and Acadie is working out and are looking ahead to potential plantings those varieties in the next few years however in all cases we're moving into the use of fertilizers and soil amendments to bring the vines into heavier production earlier.  Presently we are 5 years in with the Leon Millot and are obtaining approximately 200-250 grams of grapes per row foot - target is 1 lb per row foot.

We are beginning to add fertilizer this year in a relatively small amounts but already we've seen the vines take off more than other years. The challenge is now balancing the annual fertilizer amounts giving them just enough to get the enhanced growth and at the right times.  Last fall we added fertilizer to the ground after the vines went dormant, we added some at pruning time and again at bud break.  We'll not add any more until dormancy for this year.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bloom Time at the Vine House 2013

We had above normal temperatures for May at an average of 13.5c and average temperatures of 15.5c for June and this has pushed all varieties into an early flowering season.  We were a week early for bud break and that has carried over in to at least a week early for flowering as of June 29th.  Last year we had the coolest May June in the past 5 years and flowering didn't occur until the 10th-14th of July.  Having said that after the cool beginning we had normal heat over the summer and an average September and still had the best juice chemistry on the grapes.  So given the earlier start this year that should help things along even more - will just keep the fingers crossed for some mid summer rains.

The vines are looking great, with the Leon Millot and the rest of Kuhlman's doing well (Foch, Lucy Kuhlman, Triompe, Colmar, and Joffre). Petite Millot is also doing well as usual and the Acadie blanc is comming along. The Evangeline is maturing and were getting a few more cluster and the Ravat 34 looks good with nice growth but again you have to stay on top of the the buds as the secondaries over populate the growth very quickly.  Seyval Blanc is finally comming along and the Vandal Cliche and St. Croix is looking good for second year plants.  Castel is still struggling on our soil (which is very sandy) and Regent (winter die back) just doesn't perform at our location, nor does the blattner varieties, cabernet Foch (grapes don't mature) and cab-Libre (grapes don't mature, winter die back).

Here are the various flowing picture as of June 29th.
Leon Millot


Triompe D'Alsas

L'Acadie Blanc

Evangeline (KW96-2)

Ravat 34