Trellis System

Springing forward

After what felt like a never ending winter, with a record breaking snowfall, an ice storm, and then a very cold and wet spring, we finally made it to May and now, at long last, summer is approaching. Due to our unusually wet and cold spring, we, along with all our fellow local farmers, experienced a rather delayed start to the season. Bud break on our vines was almost three weeks later than it was last year. Thankfully we are specializing in sparkling wine and don’t have to worry about our grapes reaching high brix (sugar) levels. This shorter season will likely have an impact on that!

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On the positive side, the delayed spring left us ample time get all the pruning done. As this is our ‘experimental’ plot, we decided last year to spur prune to see if there was any differences in the vines’ production. What we found was last year, we had exceptionally lower yields. While this may have been attributed to a number of reasons (for example, the fertility in the soil; the heavy rains during flowering, etc.), we decided to go back to cane pruning this year to see if this will help our situation.

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We found that in our climate and with these vines, cane pruning seems to work quite well. After the pruning was done, we then tied all the cordons along the fruiting wire so they would be ready to go once the weather finally warmed up.

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Once that was done, and the weather did begin to warm up, we began working the land for out new 2.5 acre plot. In this plot, we have decided to plant more Acadie Blanc (as we have fallen in love with this vine and wine) as well as a few rows of Dornfelder. Dornfelder is a German red variety, which we think may grow well in our climate. We intend to use this for our rosé wines, or perhaps a sparkling red (!).

After a couple rounds of tilling, the transit came out and we began measuring and staking each of our future rows.

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Then, it was ‘all hands on deck’! We had basically one month to get everything done before the vines arrived.

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Once all the stakes were accurately placed, we had a collective sigh of relief, and could then move on and begin to pound the posts in.

But… problems with the post pounding machine began (of course). We were delayed even more. After some time it was finally working and we were able to get the posts into the ground.

After all of this, we basically had one week left to dig approximately 3000 holes before the vines would arrive and need to be planted. While we attempted at first to dig the holes ourselves, we learned rather quickly that we would never get it done in time. So, we hired the machine to do it for us. But… this led to more problems and even more delays. The vines had arrived and needed to go into the ground, but we only have half of the holes dug.

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Planting day came and thankfully the machine began to work again and we were able to get all the remaining holes dug and everything planted in that one day! Amazingly, we actually did it!!

And within a few weeks, they have already begun to spring to life. This marks the next phase of this crazy adventure for us….We have just doubled our vineyard (and workload) to 5 acres!

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First days of summer

With the long summer days, our vines have burst to life, filling the vineyard back up with their lush greens. Although this June has been a little cooler and wetter than last year, the vines look amazing with everything on track for an excellent harvest this fall.

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These past months, we’ve been busy managing the canopy  – selecting and removing excess shoots and gathering and positioning them into the trellis system as they grow.

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Pinot Gris – shoot selection

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Seyval – shoot positioning

After flowering last month, the grapes are slowly beginning to develop. We have noticed, however, that due to a rather rainy period during the flowering of our Acadie, these vines have experienced the outcome of coulure. Coulure is the dropping of flowers, often due to rain or wind during the flowering period. As each flower is potentially one grape, this leads to some clusters not developing as they should. They end up being rather loose, with some grapes either missing or very small.

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L’Acadie coulure

This is not as bad as it looks though, as although the yield will be reduced, the loose clusters allow for increased air circulation making the grapes less susceptible to rot in humid conditions. Also, as there are fewer grapes, those that are left will ripen more quickly and have a more concentrated flavor, which is all better for wine making.

Aside from the Acadie, all our other vines are looking great.

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Now, after a cool June, all we can do is wait and hope that the hot summer sun will come back to us and start ripening our grapes!


Wiring the Trellis: Part II

When we first planted our vines back in April of this year, our fingers and toes were crossed hoping our vines would grow to maybe reach the fruiting wire that had been set at 3 feet. All the information we read said we would only need to worry about installing this single fruiting wire in the first year… We never expected this!

Not only did our vines reach the fruiting wire, but they grew to the top of our posts, with some reaching even beyond that! We knew that they needed some extra support so in August we began to install the other foliage support wires for the trellis system, which were decided to be set at 4 feet and 51/2 feet from the ground. The wire clips were nailed into place accordingly.

We then ran the wire along the rows, clipping it in along the way.

The next step was to attach the wire to the end posts. But because the purpose of these wires is to support the future canopy of our vines, they need to be moveable allowing us to remove the wire and then pull it back into place while gathering all the foliage. Doing this keeps the canopy in a tight row, allowing the sun and wind to easily reach the entire vine, and most importantly, the grapes growing below.  So, to attach the wire to the end post we decided to use a chain so that we can remove the wire and also tighten or loosen it as well. To attach the wire to the chain, we used a crimping tool to crimp the end of the wire looped through a chain link.

Then the chain was simply attached to the end post with a nail. Et voila! Now we just need to do this on the other side of the posts for this row, and then only 25 more rows to go…