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.