Monday, October 20, 2014

Planting Grape Vines in the Fall

I wanted to follow up on a previous blog about planting grape vines in the fall because I get alot of emails about this.

So we plant grape vines in the fall and spring, but for fall planting there are a few things that are important to remember, watch for and do.

We often grow our vines in pots during the year as they are very easy to manage that way, you can move them in from inclement weather (cold/hail etc), and you can manage the inputs very easily.

This year we planted a new variety this year.  We grew them in pots throughout the year and now it is time to plant them out to the vineyard.

First you have to prepare the soil where they will grow.  Ideally it will be weed free, nicely tilled and ready to accept the vine.
Next as this is the fall make sure you have added some fall type fertilizer that does not have any nitrogen or very little nitrogen, something like a 5-15-15.  This way the soil will begin to disperse the nutients over the winter with water seepage but in the even of an extra long warm fall period you will not have to worry about nitrogen invigorating the vine.

Now dig a hole about 3 times the diameter of the pot that the vine is in.  I also use a post hole auger and dig a 10 inch diameter hole in the middle of all of this and sink it to about 2 feet deep.  Fill the deep hole back and then transfer the plant from pot to the wide hole.  This gives unfettered growth for the roots to grow down and to grow wide.  Water the vine in and ensure the roots have a bit extra soil over them, like a bit of a mound.

One thing to look for is that your vine is hardening off for the winter. You can see this at the base of the stem as that part has turned brown but further up it is still green.  If you vine is hardening off well before winter hits then you have good chance for bud survival.

In the spring let only 1 or 2 buds grow. I actually let 2-3 buds grow till danger of frost has past then let the strongest grow and trim back the others.  Then train that one up a pole over the rest of the summer.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Evangeline (KW96-2) Wine in the Making

So we are making a small batch of evangeline wine this year (see previous blog about evangeline grape).  We mixed the petite milo grapes in with them to make the batch.  I usually dont make wine like this unless the grapes are very similar - like the kuhlman family (foch, leon millot, lucy kuhlman, and marechal joffre).  I prefer to make varietal batches then blend afterwards but were just shy of enough grapes for a small batch so we have added the petite milo. The ratio is 80% evangeline and 20% petite milo.
Here is a picture of us pressing the grapes after crushing them.
One thing we do during the pressing is we always have the same side down for white grapes and the other side down for reds.  You can see the top of the basket press is red so the bottom is the white side - where the juice will be pouring out from this time. We do this because the red colouring leaches into the wood and if you press the white grapes where the red colour has leached into the wood it can extract some of this colour and tint the colour of the wine.

The grapes in the field were about 20-21 brix but as usual after the crush and press they are higher at 22 brix. So we are looking for a finished wine in the 12 to 12.5 A/vol range.

We add sulphite and let the juice sit for 24hours so that any obvious pulp and heavy sediment settled out.  Then we siphoned the juice off into a new carboy added some bentonite, EC1118 yeast, and after a few days its been fermenting well and has a very nice tropical fruit aroma coming through.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Evangeline Grape for 2014

So we have been growing the evangeline grape (KW96-2) for four seasons now and we have three years of ripening data.  This grape did very well again this year and the size of clusters and amount of clusters has increased this year. 
This variety produces 1-2 clusters per shoot at our location and could easily have 2 on every shoot on more fertile ground.  The clusters are in the 175 grm to 125 grm weigth and they are long and loose and good cultural growth to limit the potential for rot or fungus.  The cluster below is about 8-9 inches long.
We are blending the evangeline and petite milo this year - the evangeline has a fruity muscat aroma and flavour and the petite milo is reisling like.

see the link to next blog as we turn the grapes into wine

Monday, October 13, 2014

Early Frost Ends Season 2014

Yes, we had an unseasonably cold second week of September that brought nigh time cold of -2 to -3.  What was really unfortunate is that we were unable to get to fixing our wind fence that had been damaged earlier. The wind fence helps deflect the cold air that comes down the mountain and would otherwise enter the vineyard.  With it having been damaged by high winds the coldest air was allowed to come into the vineyard and freeze the vines.

This cold snap is 3-4 weeks earlier than usual and had we been able to see this year through to the normal harvest period at the beginning of October we would have had about 1040 degree days and about 159 frost free days.  Instead, we were lucky to have such a hot summer because up till Sept 14th we still accumulated 960 degree days growing (celcius) and 137 frost free days and most of the grapes were able to ripen to workable levels and some quite nicely.  It is also interesting to see similarities to the summer temperature pattern we had this year to the last time we had an early frost which was in 2009 when we had a hard frost on Sept 21st.  That year was a hot year like this one but with the early frost we ended up with 138 frost free days.

I've posted the new climate data.