Monday, May 27, 2019

Bud Break 2019

Absolutely love this time of year. Snow capped peaks surround the vineyard, morning mist comes down off the mountains and flows through the vines, and you get the first good look at what this years crop may be. For somethings like crop load  adjustments or soil inputs, it can take two or more seasons before you can see the effects. So in that respect, you get to see if what you did a few seasons back, worked they way you wanted it too.
Bud break was at the usual time this year dispite the cool weather right up into the second week of May. In fact some local areas got a touch of frost in the first week of May. But its been normal temperatures since then and its astonishing how quick the vines grow once the soil has warmed up. In just 1-2 week the vine can move from wooly tips to full leaf.
So we just finished the first round of shoot adjustments (removing extra shoots) to ensure we have a proper crop load. We will go at it again in in July once the vines have flowered and we have fruit set and we can further guage crop load.

As of May 24, the Marechal Foch is off to a great start and some canes are at the 5th leaf, most are around 3-4 leaves. The Ravat is similar with some at 4th leaf and most in the 2-3 leaf stage. Triompe D'Alsace and Evangeline are just getting going and are at 1-2 leaves - they are always the katest. Foch rows below;
With the heat forcast in the next few weeks those later varieties will be catching up quick and we can expect mid June flowering. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Sustainable Vineyard - School Presentation

We are often asked to make presentations to groups about vineyard practices and among these groups are schools.

We were asked to present to a Grade 7 class this year as part of the Grade 7 science program includes sustainable agriculture practices and our presentation fits nicely.

Some of our key vineyard practices that we discuss is;
-non use of fungicides
-non use of pesticides
-non use of herbicides
-natural pactices to reduce harmful insects
-vineyard practices to maximize natural rain fall
-use of drip irrigation
-automated and solar power water distribution
-gravity powered water sources
-solarization for weed control
-naturally fungal resistant grape varieties
-natural soil ammendments as fertilizer
-the impact, good and bad, of these practices

We also discuss the growing cycle and propegation of grape vines from vine cuttings. This is a hands on part as each student helps prepare a vine cutting that they grow in the class room and can take home at the end of the semester. They are able to see the vine develop through bud break to shoot growth to root development.

We just checked on the vine cuttings at the school the other day and notice that after 3 weeks many of the cuttings are showing root growth at the bottom of the cup and there is good shoot growth on top - they are rooted vines now

The students will be able to take a vine home in about a month.

What really impresses me is the knowledge the students have obtained already on these subjects, thier enthusiam and great questions. I credit the school and teachers for inspiring their classes and creating such a great learning environment.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

New Addition - Baco Noir

We have tested 30 varieties of grapes at Arrow Lake Vineyard and we had always wsnted to see how Baco Noir would work out but never obtained any plants. We lucked out this year and gratefully obtained some from the Arrow Lakes Grape Growers.

Baco Noir is a popular hybrid grown in significant quantities in Ontario and is known to make a big red wine, often oaked. It is know for higher acid at harvest  and is often subject to malolactic fermentation to reduce acid.

Its late in the game for trying new varieties at the vineyard but we will give this one a try and see how it works out at our location.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Vine Buds are Pushing

Its been another cool spring this year, not unlike last year, but again unusual compared to what we are use to. We finally have got some warmer weather moving in and its got the vines pusshing the buds. The Foch and Castel are out in front and the Evangeline is the latest. Foch pictured below;

Nearly 100% bud survival on the Marechal Foch and most varieties show great bud survuval rates. Even the Pinot Noir is exceptional and 80-90% bud survival. Our coldest temperature this past wineter was March 6, 2019 at -21c which is generally pretty cold for us but in particular it was very late in the winter for this cold of temperatures.

Its evident over the years that winter bud survival has many factors. It is so important not to over crop the vines and to ensure they have good nutrition and to avoid any severe or prolonged water stress, especially going into winter. In our soil, which is rediculously low in nutirents, its important to ammend the soil and this has taken years but the value is really showing now.

Its also a bit odd, the hardiest varieties, like Vandal Cliche, had bud damage and best we can attribute that too was the warm spell in later December that may have started to bring them out of dormancy.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Arrow Lakes Vineyard is Growing

So we have been slowly growing the vineyard since we started growing grapes in 2008. The original vineyard was seven small test rows and we added another 3 a few years later. The original test vineyard that we tested about 30 varieities was only 0.33 of an acre.

Since then we established what varieties would grow and we cleared another acre and we have 1.33 acres planted in grapes. Those vines are comming along well and it was time to expand again.

This year we have cleared another 2 acres so the vineyard area is 3.33 acres. Well technically we didnt clear the land it was great work done by Crescent Bay Construction on the land clearing..and there was several cords of great firewood taken so far with more to come.

We will fence it all in this year and next year start with planting and trellising.