Summertime… and the livin’ is ‘busy’

August has arrived and the beautiful long sun-drenched days have burst our vines to life! Some have even began to give fruit, which is very exciting!! But, all this growth means that we are now entering the phase of canopy management.

Our first grapes!!

During this first year, there are many things to do to prevent disease and ensure our vines will produce great quality grape yields.  For example, during the first year it is important for the vines to put as much energy as possible into establishing a strong root system – not into producing grapes. Therefore, during the past few weeks we have been searching through the vines to snip off any little grapes we see. Yes,  it feels cruel… but it must be done. At least we know there will be plenty of years ahead for our vines to grow beautiful grapes for us.

Also during the first year, selection of the vines’ future trunks are done. Here, the straightest and strongest shoot is selected from each vine and all the rest of the shoots are pruned back. Only the second straightest and strongest shoot is left and cut back to two buds, which leaves the vine a second option and chance to survive if anything detrimental ever happens to the main shoot over the first couple years. In some cases, selecting the straightest shoot was challenging because they grew more like a like a bush than a vine, like in the photo below. But generally, the selection process was relatively easy, especially in the l’acadie where there was almost always a dominant shoot making it clear which one to leave and which ones to prune back.

Example of a bush-like vine.

L’acadie vines with dominant shoots

It is also important to train the  vines to grow straight. To do this, we used bamboo sticks and inserted them into the ground at the base of each vine.

My mom installing the bamboo

Selecting the strongest shoot

Then, Laurent fastened the bamboo sticks to the wire using a vineyard clip.

Clipping the bamboo to the wire

The bamboo secured in place

After this, we taped the vines to the bamboo sticks using a tapener gun… much faster than tying them by hand!

Tying the vine to the bamboo

Taped up…

… and ready to grow straight!

In addition to all of this work, we also watered the vines last week. Because we are following the tradition of terroir, and especially considering the amount of rain we receive in this region, we decided not to install an irrigation system. However, during the first years the vines need a little help during the hot dry summer months while they are growing and establishing their roots. Last month we had been lucky, receiving at least one rainfall every two weeks to water the vines for us. But these past weeks have been very hot and very dry, so we had to water the vines by hand. Again with the generous help of Sheila and Barbara, we watered the vines by dipping our buckets into a large water tank pulled behind the tractor and pailed the water onto the base of each vine. Ugh! This was exceptionally exhausting work, especially because it was done under the scorching summer sun. I never thought I would say this… but hopefully we get rain sometime in the coming weeks!

Aside from a little more watering and weeding, we are almost done for the year! The next step will involve planting a mix of grass seeds between the rows. But for this, we’ll wait until fall when the weather is cooler and the rain season begins.

2 responses

  1. Michel Roland

    good job budy…

    August 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm

  2. Wendy Whitlam

    Great job!! And wonderful commentary, Melissa….definitely an enjoyable read!!

    February 28, 2013 at 3:45 pm

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