Monday, October 19, 2009

Vinifera in Wisconsin? Yes We Can! almost .....

Karen and Jack picking the Cabernet Franc.

Saturday October 17 we picked the vinifera grapes in the high tunnel. We picked at sugar levels much lower than ideal. We had a very hard freeze the weekend before (20F,) and the high tunnel got to 29 F, so ripening had pretty much stopped.

The vines were hit pretty hard with powdery mildew this year, due to some poor vineyard management by yours truly. The ripening on the cab sauvignon, cab franc and merlot was just creeping along over the last month and a half. Only the chardonnay escaped the full brunt of the powdery mildew. The Cab franc and Cab Sauv were very under ripe. (not quite 16 brix) Merlot made it too almost 19 brix, and chardonnay did best of all, getting to 21.2 brix before the freeze.

I will definitely have to be more aggressive with my spray program next year. I think that in a normal year, with better viticulture practices, I should be able to reach the low 20's in brix.

Monday, October 12, 2009

20F on Oct 11. Hard Freeze

The vineyard got down to 20 F on Oct. 11. Needless to say we got our hard freeze. Despite my best attempts to keep the high tunnel from freezing we got down to 29F the same night in the high tunnel. I plan to harvest those grapes this weekend.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Foch and lacrescent picked

early start

I picked Foch and Lacrescent on Sunday. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to measure the final brix on the foch. The Lacrescent was at 23.3 brix. I hope to measure the ph and TA tonight.

I also checked the lacrosse and st pepin.
st pepin was 18.8
lacrosse was 16.2

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brix numbers .... ripening before frost will be close

I took berry samples from all of the grape varieties in the vineyard. Here are the sugar numbers Measure 9/15/09 ( I haven't measured acids yet)

Foch 17.3
LaCrescent 21.8
St Pepin 17.6
Lacrosse 15.1
Seedless Concord 16.1

*Marquette 21.1
*Frontenac 22.3
*Prairie Star 18.9

Chardonnay 16.8
Merlot 15.3
Cab Franc 14.1
Cab sauv 12.5

(*only a few pounds each of these)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Veraison finally happening

St Pepin at Sampson Valley Vineyard Aug 28, 2009

Wow things are late this year!! I think we are about 3 weeks behind 2007. Foch is about 80% through veraison. Vinifera is just starting (merlot, cab franc, and cab sauv)

The first grapes ready will probably be La Crescent. Based on taste alone, I think those will be ready in about 2 weeks. The rest are at least 3 -5 weeks away.

Looks like I will have a nice harvest of St Pepin, and LaCrosse. LaCrescent will be not as much as I thought due to rose chafers eating the blossoms during bloom. In general those three white varieties look like they will be good quality grapes. I still have a few hundred pounds available for sale that aren't already spoken for.

Unripe Foch, from crop thinning in mid August.

I will have a small foch harvest, but last year, this year, and next year look to be a rebuilding years. I already picked about 70 lbs of green foch grapes prior to verasion a couple of weeks ago. I didn't want to over stress some of the vines.

This year the vinifera experiment in the high tunnel will go a long way of telling me if it is feasible to grow grapes this way. Right now harvest looks like it will be Early October.

Friday, July 10, 2009

3rd year in a row with very dry conditions

We haven't had any measurable rain since early June. Luckily we got about 3 inches of a nice slow rain at that time to give the vines a good start.

One benefit of the dry weather, has been very little disease pressure. Even the humidity has been low, so powdery mildew hasn't been much of a problem either. As of July 5, I finished putting my irrigation system is in place. So I should survive lack of rain much better than in the last two years. However, I think the farmers in the area sure could use an inch or two of rain right now though.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Video update coming

It has been very busy in the vineyard this year. I haven't kept up very well with the blogging. I will post a video update shortly. In the mean time check out the 2009 grape prices. For the first time I will have Vitis Vinifera grapes available!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jack and the Grapevine

And so, another vineyard season begins. We had a few days of good weather last weekend, so I was able to get a start on the pruning. I only got a few rows done, so I'll be back pruning again in the next few weeks.

Things looked good so far. As expected, I didn't see an serious bud damage on the LaCrescent. There was a bit of damage on the LaCrosse, but not as much as I thought I would see. LaCrosse is more tender than LaCrescent.

I was lucky enough to be joined in the vineyard by wife, Karen, and our 3 week old son Jack Ford. Jack was named after his grandfather Jack and his great grandmother . (Ford was her maiden name)

No big warmups expected for a few weeks, so I should have time to get the pruning done.

Monday, January 19, 2009

2009 Goals

Once again I am putting my goals down in writing. It will be a challenge to accomplish these. Last year I had several misses on my goals. I'm sure getting married, moving out of my house, selling my house, and preparing for a baby all contributed.

This year has a lot of distractions too. Our first baby is due in February, and we are in the process of looking for a house. But how much work can a new baby be? :)

Here are my Goals for 2009.

-Pull out Landot Noir. I only had 24 vines, but they could not hack the weather here. They should have been hardy enough, but they just kept dieing back. I think I'm yanking those.

-Replace Landot noir with St Pepin. The St Pepin have shown to be disease resistant, and very hardy. The demand for st pepin seems to be good. They seem good candidates to replace the landot. The draw back is that they are pistilate, and need other grape vines for polination. They will be right by the lacrosse, so hopefully that will not be an issue.

-Pull some of the foch from the low areas. One spot in vineyard one (aka the park vineyard) has had frost issues. St pepin has been reliably the last to vines to break bud in my vineyard, so I plan to replace about 50 vines with st pepin, and maybe a few Front gris.

-Put in the IRRIGATION. This will happen this year. Two drought years in a row has convinced me. Even if I don't see a drought again for several years. I will be able to use the water for frost prevention.

-Continue using the rose chafer trapping, and suppliment with Surround (kaolin clay). The rose chafer traps were effective last year. But the rose chafers continue to be a problem. I plan to use the traps again this year, but I will also use surround wich is organic.

-Aquire a pull behind Sprayer. Ideally I would get an air blast sprayer, but the size of the vineyard would not justify the expense.

-Begin a foliar feeding program. I read that it is debatable how effective this is, but I will experiment with it this year.

Yield Goals
I'm going to be very conservative here, since many of the vines are recovering from the previous year droughts.

- -Experimental vinifera .... 250lbs.
- park vineyard st pepin, lacrosse, lacrescent. 500 lbs
-total yields about 800 lbs. I think 2010 will be the year my yields return to more reasonable numbers i.e. 2000lbs+

Goals for 2008 the hits and misses

14 months ago I layed down my goals for 2008. I had a few hits, but also had some misses. I like to hold myself accountable, so here is the low down ....

2008 goals status

-Plant 200 Marquette vines.
status: done. All 200 planted and doing well

-Have a Well drilled in between vineyard 1 and 3 for irrigation and frost mitigation
status: not done. I wish I would have had this done, but most of the funds I had allocated to this were used to help fix up my house for selling it, and went toward the wedding expenses.
This will be on the list for next year, but at a higher priority level.

-put in a trellis with steel endposts in Vineyard 3
status: Partial. Steel prices got too high, and I ended up using treated end posts. I would have really like to use steel, but it just wasn't economical this time. I will definitely consider these in the future.

-Increase foch yield from 900 lbs to 1500 lbs
status: Major FAIL. Due to the drought, overcropping in 2007, and severity of the winter in 2007-2008, the foch were set back a couple of years.

-Maintain or slightly increase LaCrosse and St Pepin yield ( about 600 lbs - 900 lbs)
status: Minor miss. Yields were down, but I did get harvest.

-get first harvest from experimental vineyard ~100 lbs.
status: Minor miss, I dropped most of the fruit, but still got about 20-30 lbs off the vines.

-start a foliar feeding program
status: miss. No excuses, other than my priorities for resources changed.

-buy new pull behind sprayer
status: miss. I used the ATV sprayer that I already had. Again it was a question of the best application of my resources I had.

-finish trellis in high tunnel
status: done. VSP.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Late Fall and winter High tunnel update

The vines did very well in the high tunnel this summer. I did have some powdery mildew and downy mildew issues, but this was probably due to the fact that the cover was not in place for most of the summer due to early summer wind damage. Luckily the vinifera varieties in the high tunnel are not sulfur sensitive, and a organic bordeaux spray should take care of it in the next season.

In another mini-experiment, it was showed that you can not simultaneously grow grapes and tomatoes in the same high tunnel. One of the more traditional high tunnel crops are tomatoes. it became obvious why after my brother decided to plant a half dozen tomato plants among my grape vines. The tomatoes did well... very well. Each plant grew to be almost 10 feet in diameter. It got to the point where you could not walk down the row without stepping on a tomato.

A hard frost occurred a few weeks later in the high tunnel as expected. This was the first year that the cover was in place before first frost. The two pictures above were taken in late October. For the entire summer the sides were rolled up. They were lowered starting in October.

Snow came early in often. We had a few inches of snow in November, but then got a deep blanket in December. By mid December, we had several feet of snow.

By mid January we hit some of the coldest weather since I planted in the vineyard in 2003. The lowest temperature in the past week reached -22 F. This is 5 degrees colder than what I had seen in the previous 3 winters, and probably the coldest in 8 years. We went about 3 days without even getting above 0F. The good news is that the coldest it got in the high tunnel was +5F. This is well above the critical temperatures for any of the varietals that I am growing.

Catching up on the latest activiies

Late October 2008

A lot of vineyard reports to catch up on. Yes, Sampson Valley Vineyard is alive and well; I've just been a little behind on my vineyard updates. I'll have several posts catching things up. Here is the run down on the remainder of the season....

The season ended pretty dry. This was the second year in a row of drought conditions in the vineyard. If the vines had been more mature and healthy, the lack of rain would not have been that big of a deal. Unfortunately, the new plantings from 2007 are still way behind where they should be. The 2008 marquette plantings did well due to the early season rains. The overcropped foch did not recover as quickly as I would have hoped. They are still a couple of years from returning to full production.

The season ended with a hard frost in mid October. Total production this year came from LaCrescent, LaCrosse, and St Pepin. And that was significantly down from 2007.