Monday, May 27, 2013

Pruning done, New vines planted, anniversary, bud break and frost

It has been a crazy busy month.   Since I haven't had time to write in weeks, I'm cramming 5 blog entries into one.

We finally finished pruning April 27.   That is about 1 month later than usual.    Only a week and a half earlier we still had a few inches of snow in the vineyard.   The vines looked very healthy.   We saw essentially no winter kill.   This was not surprising since the vines went into the winter very healthy, and the winter was not very severe  (although it was long).   The buds were just barely swelling on April 28.
Marquette Bud swell on April 28.

I ordered 500+ vines for planting April 27, but I had to delay the shipment a couple of weeks.   The vines arrived the week of May 6-10.   I got 240 Petite Pearl, 240 Frontenac Blanc, and 66 sommerset seedless.

Petite Pearl is a red wine grape.   There has been a lot of buzz surrounding this new cultivar.    I haven't decided if I am going to train as VSP or Single High Cordon.   The grape is fairly new, but I thought I would give it a try since I have been a bit disappointed with Marquette, both with its behavior in the vineyard, and as a wine.   The Marquette vine tends throw a lot of lateral shoots, and requires a lot attention to keep it in check.   It has also been surprisingly susceptible to black rot.   Wines made from Marquette have not impressed me so far, but I have talked to several growers who have said they have had great bottles.   I need to find some of those before I plant any more Marquette.

Frontenac Blanc is a white wine grape.    I planted it because I needed a more productive hardy white wine grape in the vineyard.   Viticulturally it is suppose to be very similar to Frontenac (or Frontenac Noir as some people call it), from which it is a single bud mutation.   I have liked Frontenac in the vineyard, but I am not a huge fan of the wines, unless it is made in a port style, or as a blush/rose style.

Sommerset Seedless will be the second seedless cultivar in the vineyard.   I have been growing Concord seedless for nearly 9 years.   The flavor profile of Sommerset seedless will be very different from the concord seedless.   It will have little or no Vitis labrusca flavor.  (that foxy Welches grape flavor).   I plan on planting several other seedless varieties in the next few years.   I currently grow Marquis, Reliance, and Himrod, at my house.   I may try some of these at the vineyard.  I've only had fruit from Marquis so far, but should have fruit on all three this year.   Bud break at my house was on Cinco De mayo.   About a week and a half later than normal.

I planted the sommerset seedless and Petite Pearl on the weekend of May 10-12.    The remaining Frontenac Blanc vines were planted May 18 and 19.   All vines were dug using a 12" auger and were dug about 4 feet deep to get through the hard pan.   Since the holes were so large, I was able to keep the roots intact and did not really need much trimming.
grape vine planter (12" auger)

Sampson Valley Vineyard is 10 years old!!!   May 10, 2013 marks the 10th anniversary since the first vines were planted at Sampson Valley Vineyard.   The exact day in 2003 came somewhat as a surprise to me, since I didn't remember the date the first vines were planted.   A few weeks ago, I went through my old emails to figure out the date.   I was surprised to discover that the first vines were planted May 10, 2003!    Although my wife doesn't believe me, it was entirely a coincidence that we got married 5 years to the day that the first vines were planted (May 10, 2008).   Since I had to delay the planting two weeks this spring,  the latest vines begun to be planted on May 10, 2013.   So I spent my 5th wedding anniversary planting grapes at the Vineyard .... or as my wife calls the vineyard .... "the other woman".

Bud break on most of the grape cultivars occurred May 15-17.   This is about 1 and a half weeks behind last year, and about 2 weeks later than normal.    This is still earlier than the latest bud break over the last 10 years, which occurred on May 21 one year.   Based on bud break, even with a hot year, I am looking at a harvest date in late September at the earliest.  A cold summer, may mean an early October harvest.
You would think we would be safe from frost by May 24, but that morning we had a frost.   Luckily, most of the damage was minor.   May be a few leaves of the foch in the lowest row.   We estimate about 10% damage.   The temperature on Friday morning got to 33.6F at my weather station.   The west vineyard is about 10-20 ft lower, and the the max min thermometer actually read about 25F.  Another vineyard about 10 miles East North East of my vineyard saw little damage, with the exception of their Frontenac Blanc which saw severe damage. 
Sampson, WI Weather Station Chart from May 24.

I will have a more in depth look at the frost event in a future entry.