Thursday, August 28, 2014

That doesn't look good....

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

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?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

2014 Bloom has begun

Frontenac and Prairie Star have begun to bloom. ( Unfortunately Rose chafers have emerged too.) This puts us about 2 or 3 days ahead of last year.   Bloom has been one of the best early indicators for predicting harvest date.   Based on bloom, I think harvest will occur no earlier than the last weekend in September for LaCrescent, and Prairie Star.    The next two weeks I would likely plan on picking Marquette and Frontenac.  Weather during the season can still shift those dates later, but earlier dates are unlikely.  Crop loads look high right now, so I may need to do some crop thinning.    We are seeing almost zero bud loss on LaCrescent, Marquette, Prairie Star and Frontenac.    Foch is the only cultivar that had significant damage, It looks like 50-80% primary bud loss.    

Friday, May 23, 2014

2014 Bud break

As expected bud break is later than average this year.   Somewhat surprisingly, this date is not that unusual.  Below is a table of bud break dates at Sampson Valley Vineyard over the last 9 years.

Growing Year
Date of bud break
GDD at Bud break *
2014 5/21/2014
2013 5/17/2013
2012 5/6/2012
2011 5/21/2011
2010 5/3/2010
2009 5/22/2009
2008 5/22/2008
2007 5/4/2007
2006 5/4/2006
* base 50, GDD since April 1.

Note that the bud break average date is May 13.   Average GDD at bud break is 134.   So bud break this year is only about a week behind the 9 year average.

Based on forecasted temperatures and average temperatures after the extended forecast period, bloom is estimated to begin on June 18.

So far most vines look like they survived the severe winter quite well.   The one notable exception so far is foch.    Looking at the foch buds during pruning, we were seeing significant bud damage.   We are seeing good bud growth now, so hopefully there was no major trunk or vine vascular damage.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Baby it's cold outside .... or will be.

We are expecting the coldest temperatures my vineyard has ever seen over the next several days.   Highs on Monday and Tuesday may not get out of the minus teens Fahrenheit. Low temperatures will approach -20° F to -25° F (-29° C to -32° C).

NWS forecast
Mon Jan 6 forecast from NWS on Friday Jan3.
 While most of the grape cultivars I have planted should be okay, some will be on the edge of having some damage.

Below is a table of cultivars I grow, and the listed "hardiness temperature".  Hardiness temperatures are from this page.

Cultivar Hardiness Temperature
Foch -25° F / -32° C
Frontenac -35° F / -37° C
Marquette -35° F / -37° C
PetitePearl* (non producing) -32° F / -35° C
LaCrosse -25° F / -32° C
St Pepin -26° F / -32° C
LaCressent -36° F / -38° C
Prairie Star -40° F / -40° C
Frontenac Blanc * (non producing) -38° F / -39° C
Seedless Concord* -25° F / -32° C
Somerset Seedless (non producing) -30° F / -34° C
*The source for the hardiness temperatures for these varieties were found elsewhere.

Several things will determine how my vines pull through.  Including but not limited to:
  • Grape cultivar.  (obvious one, some vines are genetically better adapted to surviving cold.)
  • health of vine going into dormancy ( a sick weak vine will not be able to tolerate cold as well.)
  • age of vine   (younger trunks and cordons may be injured, and may need to be trained up from the roots.)
  • temperatures/weather immediately proceeding severe cold.   (Warm temperatures immediately preceding cold will de-acclimate the vine, and make vine more susceptible to damage. )
  • severity, and duration of the cold weather (another obvious one)
  • previous years crop load  (vine puts too much energy into ripening crop load, and may not store enough energy to come out of dormancy well in spring)
  • harvest time  ( a late harvest does not give the vine much time to put energy away before dormancy)
Of these factors,  harvest time and crop load last year may be impact my vines the most.   Crossing my fingers that everything goes fine.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

First ice wine grape harvest at Sampson Valley Vineyard

Ice wine grapes Thanksgiving 2013
Early Thanksgiving morning (11/28), while the temperatures hovered in the upper teens and low 20s, I harvest about 125 lbs of ice wine grapes.   This is the first ice wine grape harvest in the ten year history of the vineyard.    It was an experiment, (somewhat forced).   The grapes looked beautiful.    In this round of harvest, I picked primarily st pepin which I still had netted.   They were about 20 brix at the end of the growing season, but came in at about 29.5 after crush and press when I picked them for the ice wine.   There is about another 400 lbs of lacrosse, but unnetted.   But even though they are not under nets, they look good.
Cold calm day at Sampson Valley Vineyard

Lacrosse grapes

Since I was harvesting for myself, and not a commercial winery, I processed them too.    I was not entirely sure of the whole process, but was somewhat limited by the equipment that I had.   Since the temperatures were not in the single digits, the grapes were more of a snow cone/milk shake consistency, not hard marbles, like many ice wine makers deal with.   This was probably a good thing, since my crusher-destemmer and wood basket press would probably not have worked.

 I easily picked 125 lbs in about an hour (3 lugs full).   I probably could have picked a lot more, but had to get back for Thanksgiving dinner at 3:00.
St Pepin grapes

A very friendly black and white cat came out to help.... it hung out the entire time I was picking.   It even climbed a trellis pole to get a better view.   Maybe he was guarding the grapes for the last couple of months?   I probably didn't need the net!
St Pepin grapes with their guardian cat

Ready to pounce?
Crushing went slowly, and the destemmer sieve got pretty caked with the frozen must.   Unfortunately, the picture is slightly blurry and doesn't do the golden must justice.   Very little juice was visible as I crushed.
Thick ice wine slurry/must

Must before pressing.   Just a bit of juice after crushing.
At the end of pressing, I had a total of 3 gallons of very sweet juice.  The taste was wonderful!   Juice yield was probably a bit higher than it should have been.   I attribute that to the temperatures warming to the low 20s as I crushed and pressed.

I added a bit of potassium metabisulfite, and let the juice sit until Saturday morning.   I inoculated the juice with KV-1116 yeast.   Fermentation started slowly, but is now humming along well.   I plan to pull about 1/2 gallon of wine out early before fermentation is complete, and bottle it in small sparkling wine bottles, and try to make a sparkling ice wine.   The rest will be a more traditional ice wine.

There are another 400-500 lbs still in the field, and if I don't sell them, hopefully I will be able to pick them while they are still prime.

This will definitely become an annual tradition!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

2013 harvest round 1 ... done

Picking Marquette grapes at Sampson Valley Vineyard
September 28, 2013

What a great day for a harvest! ....  What a spectacular turnout!  ....   The harvest party at Sampson Valley Vineyard was  incredible this year.    We harvested over 6,500 lbs in about 7 hours.   The weather was almost perfect.  We worked like crazy, and got a lot done.

Most of the grapes were taken by Leigh's Garden Winery, and some by Vines and Rushes Winery.   Definitely check out these two wineries.   Top notch wines and great people.

We still have to harvest Frontenac for Leigh's Garden Winery on Saturday, Oct 12.   The rest of the grapes are destined for home winemakers, and maybe a few for myself.

I added a bunch of other pictures from the weekend below.