Monday, June 21, 2021

Dry and early start to the Season


It's been an early start to the season.  Bud break was in the first week of May (about a week earlier than average, and 2nd earliest in 18 years.   The vines are happy and healthy with very little disease pressure due to the dry weather.   Bloom completed by June 19, and even the Rose Chafer pressure was lower than in the past.

We have not used any Round Up/herbicide for over 5 years, so the drier weather has helped us keep down the grass and weeds beneath the vines, but I think even the mature vines could use a drink.   We also planted a small block of Itasca this year, so we are having to give those little guys a drink fairly often in this dry weather using buckets and hoses where they reach.

Crop load looks very high this year.   I think the vines went into the winter in the best condition in years after an excellent weather year in 2020.   The 2020 vintage while small, was perhaps the best quality since 2012.  By the way the 2020 Wisecco Rosé and 2020 Pet Nats are in high demand, so if you want to get your hands on one, order soon.

Very late Friday night, my son and I were out in the vineyard trying to capture some astrophotography pictures over the vineyard using my cheap smart phone.  It's amazing what these little devices can do, check out the pictures below.  There were no enhancements, or recoloring by me, just using the default astrophotography settings.



Tuesday, June 16, 2020

A Rose Chafer by any other name ... (would be just as bad)

Sampson Valley Vineyard,  Frontenac Blanc block on June 13, 2020

We are in growing year 18!   The vineyard is as active as ever.   We have made lots of changes in our practices since the first planting 17 years ago.

 We are at about 3 acres in size now.  Most of our grapes are Frontenac Blanc, LaCrescent, and Petite Pearl, but there several other cultivars as well.  Including LaCrosse, St Pepin, Prairie Star, Frontenac and Marquette.

We have changed our training practices and trellis a few times.  We went from Top Wire High Cordon, to VSP (vertical Shoot position), and now back to high cordon.  We are now using a modified HBrace trellis for the newer vines.

We have completely eliminated glyphosate (RoundUp) about 5 years ago. Some of the motivation for this were studies in California that have found glyphosate in wine (although probably harmless), I thought we can eliminate it.  In doing so, we have significantly added more labor into our grape production.

Right now we under the annual attack of Rose Chafers.   Since they come out during grape blossom, they are very difficult to control.  (sprays ... even some organic sprays could affect honey bees)  The most safe and effective control is manual removal.  So for the last week, we have been removing rose chafers by hand!

Some of our changes over the years have added a lot of cost, but we want any wine made from our grapes to be grown in an environmentally sustainable way.   These changes add to the price of the final product, but we think it is worth every penny.



Monday, July 09, 2018

Another year at Sampson Valley Vineyard

Sampson Valley Vineyard on July 8, 2018
It has been a while since the blog has been updated, but things are going very well at Sampson Valley Vineyard.

We are currently at 3 acres of vines.   Our newest vines are Petite Pearl and Frontenac Blanc.   They are already in their 5th year, and should both have a nice crop this year.
Frontenac Blanc

2 years ago we started Odilon Ford Winery.  So now all of Sampson Valley Vineyard's grapes now go to Odilon Ford Winery to make sparkling wines! (and a couple of non sparkling wines).

We have a few other updates as well. 

  • We have been moving to single high cordon for our grape vine training from Vertical Shoot Positioning (... aka VSP).  About 2/3 of the vineyard is now single high cordon.  Research shows it tends to provide larger crops, requiring less labor, with no significant quality impact compared to VSP.
  • We are no longer using any glyphosate (RoundUp) under the vines (or anywhere in the vineyard.)   It is a little more work to maintain, but eliminating, a likely, unnecessary pesticide is a good thing.
  • We are removing Rose Chafers by hand!   My nieces removed 10s of thousands of Rose Chafers by hand this year.   They shook them off onto tarps, used hand held vacuums, and squashed them individually.   Last year these critters (along with grape flea beetles) wiped out almost my entire crop.   This year with a lot of work, the grapes were mostly spared.
After a crazy spring, (30+inches of snow in April), we have had excellent weather in the vineyard.   Disease pressure is the lowest I have seen in several years.  Grapes are a little behind this year,  I expect harvest to be in late September, or early October.

If you are interested in trying out our sparkling wines, they are available online!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

One of the reasons Harvest is later than usual this year

This picture kind of says it all.   For the first 8 months of 2014 the coldest anomaly on the planet is over Wisconsin.

At the same time, it is a bit scarey how much red and pink there is, and how little blue is on that image.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

That doesn't look good....

A lot of rain is predicted over the next 5-7 days.

updated (precip from Aug 23- Sept 22 2014)

That is not something you want to see at this time of the year.   This may cause berry splitting, and other damage.   

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Congratulations to Leigh's Garden Winery!

Leigh's Garden Winery Logo

Leigh's Garden Winery went 5 for 5 at the 6th International Cold Climate Wine Competition.   A very prestigious honor!

Sampson Valley Vineyard is proud to say it provided Leigh with many of the grapes in his wines.


Veraison almost complete, first somerset seedless grapes

Somerset Seedless
Veraison started about when predicted, and is nearly complete.   Marquette began veraison on Monday, August 11, and was 95% complete by August 16.   Frontenac was 50% done by August 16.

Harvest is now anticipated to begin the first weekend of October.

A random cluster was left behind on the two year old somerset seedless.    Beautiful looking grape!   After tasting a few berries, it is probably only a week or so from being able to be harvested.   Good to know for future years!   I did notice a slight residual seed, but not too much.   It already has a nice taste.   I heard rumors that it makes a decent wine ....... hmmmm?