Monday, December 17, 2007

December 2007 weather update

A missed St Pepin cluster

It has been a cold snowy December. Our low temperature in the vineyard hit -7 F on December 6, but for the most part, we have been hanging out in teens and twenties. We have had a good 8" of snow on the ground throughout, so everything should be good.

The inside of the high tunnel has been as low as 15F so things are exceeding my expectations on that front.

Monday, November 12, 2007

End of year Wrap up and goals for next year

A successful season has come to a close. As is usual during this time of year my posts will decrease significantly until spring. I may post the occasional weather update if we hit a cold spell. I may also post updates on how well the high tunnel is performing.

2007 milestones
-Planted 300 more vines
-harvested 1500 lbs of grapes
-sold my first crop to a commercial winery
-finished high tunnel for experimental vines
-48 Lacrescent vines trained and ready for first small crop
-1st crop from St Pepin
-1st crop from LaCrosse

2007 challenges
- late spring frost took out over 1/3 of the foch. (it didn't kill them, but set them back 1 year)
-drought caused severe stress especially on the over cropped foch it may lead to little or no crop next year on those vines.
-drought also may have killed between 10 and 15 % of new plantings.
-unfinished high tunnel allowed deer to impact the experimental vines
-Early light frost reduced cold hardiness going into winter

Goals for 2008
-Plant 200 Marquette vines.
-Have a Well drilled in between vineyard 1 and 3 for irrigation and frost mitigation
-put in a trellis with steel endposts in Vineyard 3
-Increase foch yield from 900 lbs to 1500 lbs
-Maintain or slightly increase LaCrosse and St Pepin yield ( about 600 lbs - 900 lbs)
-get first harvest from experimental vineyard ~100 lbs
-start a foliar feeding program
-buy new pull behind sprayer
-finish trellis in high tunnel

The High Tunnel is DONE!!!! It took a lot of weekends, but it is finally done. I finished it on Saturday with help of my brother Jon, my sister Ann, and my bro in law Dave.



Monday, October 15, 2007

First Fall Frost/freeze

I'm posting this a bit late. We had the first significant frost/freeze in the Vineyard Friday Morning (10/12/2007)

There are still a couple of things to do in the vineyard before the snow flies. I need to fertilize the vines with some potash ... since low potassium is a big problem in the vineyard. I also need to bury any graft unions on the grafted vines.

Posts will definitely slow down until Spring when pruning starts in March. I will probably only post a few reports through the winter. I will probably post a Season summary and goals for next year in December.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Maiden Voyage at Captain's Walk Winery

This past Friday I got to visit Captain's Walk Winery, the winery where my Foch grapes are being made into a wine. The winery just opened in spring of this year. It is housed in a gorgeous Victorian aged home in downtown Green Bay near the Fox River.

The winery is definitely a unique experience. The wine essence garden along the pathway to the winery was a unique idea. I definitely got the feel that the winery was very much about wine education.
Plaque near the essence garden.

Inside the winery you enter the receiving room, and just beyond you immediately see the production room, where the magic happens. I took a picture of fermenter #3 ... where the Foch grapes from my vineyard were just finishing their primary fermentation. The winery already had that wonderful winery smell from the fermentation. The wine in this lot will be made into a blush wine and named Maiden Voyage. They will only be making about 75 cases. The wine will be bottled in a very unique "ship shaped" bottle. They hope to release it very early next year.

SVV grapes fermenting in fermenter #3.

The tasting room is also a unique experience. The decor is as gorgeous as the rest of the winery. But what is really cool is the big square plexiglass covered hatch which allows you to look at the barrel/aging cellar. Very cool.

Well this is a vineyard blog .... so I want to update the vineyard status a bit. We've had as much rain in the last week as we have nearly had all summer. The last of the Saint Pepin was sold. All that remains is some LaCrosse. It's holding at about 18.5 brix, and has a lot of "bad" berries. I'll probably pick it in the next week, for my own use.New plantings

I also did an assessment of the new plantings. The Rose chafers and the drought has been hard on them. I planted 100 vines each of Frontenac, LaCrescent, and Prairie Star. I went through and looked for signs of life. Prairie Star fared the best, I only see one with no life signs. The Frontenac had 5 vines not make it. All in row 11? LaCrescent had it the worst ... I lost 24 out of the 100 planted. It's not unlikely to lose a few more over the winter. Note: last year, I never lost a single laCrescent vine.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Grapes have been delivered and are ready for pressing

The grapes have been put into the winery warehouse and will be crushed
and pressed tomorrow. Almost 900 lbs.

Grapes made it to the winery

We just got to Algoma where the grapes will be processed.

All the grapes are picked

Here is an empty Foch vine .... All the Foch are picked.

Trailer is Full!!!!

I guess I had a good crew. We filled up the trailer by noon. And all
are picked.

Last row to pick

We are down to the last row.

A lot of hands make quick work

My brother-in-law Dave and his parents tackling a bunch of Foch.

Grandma and Treva sorting through the grapes

Grandma is getting lots of help from Treva.

An early morning start to picking

Rains just went through, so it will be a wet early start to picking.

Live Blogging from Sampson Valley Vineyard Today

Today is picking day for the Foch. I'm going to try to blog
throughout the day from my phone. Hopefully add a few pictures too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Foch Picking on Tuesday

The foch will be picked on Tuesday. My number aren't stellar .... brix ~18 and ph about 3.00, but the yellow jackets are beginning to cause damage, and the Winery will be crushing and pressing on Wednesday, so it is time to get them in. I'll send an update with Tuesday or Wednesday with final sugar and acid numbers and hopefully some pictures.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Surviving a frost .... barely

It was a tense weekend. Due to the drought, and overcroping my foch, I need to let the foch grapes hang longer to ripen. As of Thursday, they were still under 18 brix. The forecast for Friday night had us on the edge of a frost warning, so I decided to spend the night in the Vineyard.

I got to the vineyard at about 9:30 pm. I checked my max min thermometer, which is in the upper part of the vineyard. It already read 38 F!!!! I had to hustle. The skies had quickly cleared, and I knew it would only be a matter of a couple of hours before I reached freezing.

My pump for my sprayer had broken a couple of weeks ago, and I brought up a replacement. I got the sprayer working by about 10:30 pm. I filled my sprayer tank with filtered warm pond water. I also added some potassium bicarbonate to the tank ... an organic mixture to kill powdery mildew. It also has some frost protection ability.
ATV with Sprayer.

I made the first run without incident. I put another thermometer in the bottom corner of the vineyard where the cold air pools. by the time I finished my first spraying, the temperature in the bottom corner was about 33F. I went back to the pond to refill.

I brought a sleeping bag and gear to take naps between vineyard runs. I decided to abandon any sleeping plans when I found that the temperature was dropping so fast.

I made about 8 to 10 total runs between the pond and the vineyard. The temperture at the top of the hill in the vineyard made it down to about 30F. The lowest temperature I saw in the bottom corner was 25.3F ....

By sunrise most of the vines had a thin coat of ice (see the picture at the top) The thickest ice was in the bottom corner.

In the end all of the foch with fruit survived the frost with minimal leaf damage.

Foch with grapes made it.

The foch in the bottom corner did get quite a bit of frost/freeze kill, but some of the upper leaves made it through. None of these vines had any fruit, and their survival through the frost was less critical.
Frost damaged foch vine.

The projected harvest of Foch, is now Tuesday, September 25. The folks at Captain's Walk Winery are planning to make a blush style wine from it .... that is if it survives until I can pick it :) The yellow jackets have discovered the grapes, and have begun to damage some fruit. Hopefully the lady bugs don't find them too.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Some Heat, some Sun, maybe a bit overcropped?

Well we have had a solid week of sun and a few days of some pretty high heat (a high of 92 F!). As of last night the foch brix are about 17.3, the St Pepin are 17.1 and the LaCrosse pulls up the rear at 15.6.

I made a little plot of the Brix and Ph over the last few weeks. I have only been taking the Ph readings the last couple of weeks, and put it in a spread sheet. The solid lines are the brix (scale on the left) The dashed lines are the Ph(scale on the right.) What's interesting, is that during the cool rainy period during the second week from the end of August, brix did not change much. It really climbed during the sunny moderately warm period, the next week, but then slowed again when the sunny and very high heat arrived this week. The Ph in general has not changed much at all, with the exception of the foch ph going up substantially over the last few days. I think I will be picking the Foch the weekend of September 15.

The LaCrosse seems to be progressing the most steadily, but it seems to be the variety with the most significant disease problems too. I may pick these next weekend, no matter what their brix. They seem to have a thinner skin and are less durable than the St. Pepin. Any I don't sell will be chapitallized (sugar added) and made into a dry white wine.

The St Pepin have reached a little over 17 brix, and will probably make it to 18 by next weekend. Any of those that don't sell will probably be allowed to hang, and be harvested for a late harvest sweet wine.

The foch are by far the most healthy looking, but also a bit overcropped. If I would have anticipated the drought this summer, I would have thinned the crop, so the vines could more easily ripen their load.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ripening has slowed

St Pepin

I was out at the vineyard on Satruday (Aug 25). I did some mowing, since grass began to grow again with the inch and a half of rain we got over the last week. The ripening at the Vineyard has slowed. The cold misty weather of the last week has kept the grapes from doing too much. The LaCrosse and especially the Saint Pepin have begun to take on a beautiful amber color. The grapes definitely taste fruity and sweet. The brix are about 14.6, and p.h. is 2.82. I expect that they will be ready to harvest in about 2 weeks. The LaCrosse have actually ripened the most in the last 2 weeks they are now at about 12.9, where two weeks ago, they were down near 9.7.


The Foch look very good, but sugars have not changed much in the last 2 weeks. Still coming in in the mid 14s. P.h. is about 2.7. I am worried that they may be a bit overcropped. We really need some dry sunny weather to get them near 20 brix. Still have a few berries that haven't changed. Not sure if that is due to the dry stressful summer, or overcropping. Disease pressure has been higher in the last week, but I see little signs of it.
Foch vine loaded with clusters.

I have a few clusters of seedless concord. Very nice taste. Very "grapey". The ripest berries show a brix of about 14.4. I also have a fair number of Landot Noir clusters. I may end up yanking these at some point if their performance doesn't improve. They are sitting at about 13.4 brix.

I also spent a good chunck of the day preparing the vineyard for next years Marquette vines. I have 200 ordered. I Measured and staked out the rows. 10 rows 8 ft apart 6 ft between vines. This is a bit closer than my other varieties, but I thought I would try it out.

Prepared and staked out area for next years grapes.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Okay, now I want no rain.

Ripening has slowed significantly over the last week. It has been cool for most of the week, and then hot and muggy the last few days. Luckily the heavy rain has been avoiding the vineyard so far. I've been keeping tabs on the total precipitation using the New Noaa precipitation site.

Here is the total precipitation over the last 3 months (This continues to update, so may not make since at the time you are reading this.) What it shows is that in the location of the vineyard, we have had only 2-4 inches total in the last 90 days. Here is a link that shows the departure from normal over the same period; over 8 inches below normal!. The vineyard is located in that dry spot just North West of Green Bay.

At my house in Madison, I have had about 8 inches in the last 2 weeks.

The vineyards and the folks here really want some dry weather.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Veraison is almost complete

Veraison is about 80% complete. And I would swear they went from 80% in the morning, to 95% complete by the time we left. I took a few sugar reading in the vineyard with my refractometer, here are the numbers

On Sunday 8/12/2007

Foch 14.7 brix
St Pepin 13.7 brix
Lacrosse 9.8 brix
(brix ~ % sugar)

I tasted a few of the berries. The Saint Pepin already tasted quite good. Acid levels are much lower than last year. The Foch acids are also noticeably lower. I would guess, that by the time we pick the TA (total acidity) will be near .75 g/l (last year it was very high, about 1.1 g/l !) The weather in the next few weeks will be important in determining what the final values will be.

If I had to guess I would say the Foch will be ready to harvest Labor day weekend, give or take a week. I may adjust this depending upon the customers needs. Unless I let the St. Pepin hang for an Ice wine, they will be ready to pick about the same time. I think The Lacrosse will need a couple weeks more than the Foch or the St Pepin.

By the way .... if anyone that reads my blog is interested, the Lacrosse will be available at $0.75 a lb "pick your own." I'll post more details as I know them.

Bird Netting on the Foch.

Karen and I spent most of Sunday in the vineyard. Since the foch was ripening fast, and the dark berries are very tempting to birds we put bird netting over all of the foch. The Saint Pepin and Lacrosse being green/white grapes are far less tempting, but we may net those too in a few weeks.

We actually got a bit of rain Saturday night. The guage showed about .4 inches. This is the only rain in about a month. We decided we better still give the new plantings a drink, so we hauled water to them, and gave each of the 300 vines some water. Also, since it had been humid the last week, I sprayed the older Foch and Lacrosse vines with Armicarb (an organic Potassium based fungicide.) I don't see too much disease, just a lot stressed vines due to the lack of water. I did see what I think may be some anthracnose on some of the Lacrosse. I'll double check some of the literature to see if that is indeed what it is. Mydormant (pre-budbreak) spray of lime sulfur(also organic) is my primary means of controlling anthracnose. I have read that it can still show up, if there are a lot of nearby wild grape vines. Which there are lots near the vineyard.

Oh, .... One More Thing .... I asked Karen to marry me this weekend while we were at the vineyard. She said yes.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lots of rain, but not in the vineyard.

Lots of rain in Wisconsin so far this week. I have had nearly 3 inches in my backyard in Madison, but not a drop in Sampson at the vineyard. I'm sure all of the rain will come the two weeks just before I am ready to pick .... the worst possible time.

We are getting a lot of heat and humidity. I may hit the vines with some Armicarb this weekend. (Armicarb is an potassium carbonate based Organic approved fungicide to kill powdery mildew and blackrot.)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Very Dry

Vineyard on August 4, 2007

It has been very dry at the vineyard. This is great for reducing disease pressure, but the vines are definitely under stress. We have had about 1.5-2inches of rain since May. We have been watering the new plantings, but they are struggling. Even the more mature vines never developed the canopy that is required to ripen the grapes.

Veraison has barely begun. About 5-10% complete. I thought I would be a few weeks ahead of last year, but it looks like I may be about the same now. Rain and humid weather is expected this week. Hopefully I will get more rain than just the humidity. I think harvest may be the Labor day weekend or the weekend after depending on the weather over the next few weeks.

The vines in the lower South east corner that got frosted out this spring have recovered nicely. That are is a bit lower, and moisture is not quite as scarce.

The high tunnel vines are growing very well, but they have better moisture resources.

The saint pepin and lacrosse crops look good, but they certainly could use the rain too.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Things look pretty good

I spent the weekend working at the vineyard. Things are looking pretty good over all.

For the last two months, it seems like every major rainfall has missed the vineyard.
We've had about 2.5 inches total over the last 2 and one half months. The older vines are doing well, but the one year old vines and new plantings are struggling a bit. We have watered the new plantings 3 times since planting. Memorial day weekend, at the end of June, and about a week ago. We finally got an inch of rain last Wednesday, but that hardly made a dent in our water needs.

The dry weather has been great for disease control however. I see absolutely no signs of powdery or downy mildew. Since we had the rain Wednesday, and have a had some higher humidity days lately, I did hit the vines with the Organic fungicide Kaligreen on Sunday.

Here is a synopsis of vine/grape status.

Vineyard 1 (Park Vineyard)
-5th year Foch.
Large crop. Maybe 700 + lbs. No disease signs. No obvious stress due to drought. Need more severe prunning and tying next year. Probably about 2-3 weeks from verasion. (when the grapes turn from green to bluish black)

-4th year foch
No crop this year ... retraining due to late frost. Coming back strong.

-5th and 4th year Lacrosse

Nice first crop. About 400 - 500 lbs some retraining needed. Fairly healthy

-4th year St Pepin

Very nice first crop. No retraining needed. 300-400 lbs

-4th year Landot Noir
No crop ... can't handle even mild winters. Good growth, but have had good growth in the past, and it hasn't recovered. May pull them next year. ( the info I read, said they should survive the winters, but even the mild ones take them out?)

-3rd year Concord
Having some trouble training these guys. They need more rain. Afew clusters here and there.

-2nd year Lacrescent
Started out strong. A few got hit by the rose chafers pretty hard. They could also use a good shot of rain or two. Pulled the grow tubes off them a week or so ago, to give them time to harden off.

Vineyard 2 (high tunnel.)
-All types
Doing pretty well. Need major training, but will have to wait until next year. Little disease, and good growth. Deer have been in there, but damage is not too bad.

Vineyard 3 (new plantings)

All types really need some water. The Prairie Star seem to be doing the best, followed by the Frontenac. The LaCrescent are spotty some doing well, others are strugling.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Vineyard Status on the 4th of July

Up to do some basic maintenance. Things looks good, but definitely could use some rain especially for the new plantings. I will be in Greece for the the next couple of weekends, so I won't be back untill the end of July.

In the mean time the berries have swollen and are looking good.

5th year Foch

4th year Saint Pepin

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Chafers still there, but things are improving

I still have a few chafers, but they are for the most part leaving the 1 st year and 2nd year vines alone.Overall things look good. We got about 1.3 inches of desperately needed rain this week. We got the vines in the lower right "frost" corner started retraining.

Here are some other pictures of the latest in the vineyard.

This is the 2nd year LaCrescent. I'm going to train them VSP (Vertical shoot position). This means they will have a lower cordon with the fruiting zone, and the canopy will be trained up into catch wires.

Lacrosse will have a small but decent harvest.

St. Pepin didn't pollinate very well.

Training of the St Pepin is going pretty well.

Foch looks pretty good.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Vine status

Things are looking pretty good. Karen came up on Sunday and helped me with the pruning and retraining of the foch in the "frost corner" of the vineyard. I also got up the bottom wire for the 2nd year LaCrescent ... I think I am going to train those using VSP training/trellis method.

We are getting very dry ... rain predicted for Monday ... my fingers are crossed. Disease pressure is very low. The vines look very healthy.

The high tunnel grapes are also looking very good. I plan on spending time training them next weekend.

Karen and I sprayed some of the retrained foch and all of the new plantings and 2nd year Lacrescent vines with Sevin, since the Rose chafers were still thick on some young vines especially the retrained foch.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rose chafer damage .... spraying

I got to the vineyard and found that a few of the 2nd year Lacrescent had major damage. But it most were minor damage. The new plantings got hit harder.

Since None of these vines are in bloom, and wind was very calm (and most of the other grapes were done or very close to being done blooming) I sprayed Sevin on the 48 second year LaCrescent and the 300 new plantings.

Here is my estimate of damage.
(my criteria)
4- Defoliated
3- Severe damage (some green left)
2- moderate damage (half the leaves show some damage)
1- Light damage ( ~ 1/4 leaves show damage)
0- No damage (no visible damage or so few, that it is barely noticable)

2nd year lacrescent (48 total)

#vines Damage
2 ----4
4 ----3
15 ------1
12 ------0

3rd year Concord (23 total)

Number of vines Damage
0 ----4
0 ----3
4 ----2
9 ----0

1st year Frontenac (100 ..25 only have shoots, 4 showed no life)
Number of vines Damage
6 ----4

1st year LaCrescent (99 total - 9 showed no life)
Number of vines Damage
8 ----4

1st year Prairie Star (100 .. 100% have leaves!)
Number of vines Damage
10 ----4