My girls working in the Brianna vineyard!
A Good Year...
It ended up being a fantastic year in the vineyard! This was our fourth growing season, so we were looking forward to a "full" crop/harvest in much of the vineyard. We didn't have any issues with early growth+frost or late frost, which was our biggest problem last year (2012), where we saw early bud break on our acre of Marquette and acre of La Crescent in late March early April. Shoots were 1-3" long and had already sent out their flower buds... Knowing we can receive a frost up to the first week in May, this was cause of concern. We received a frost April 10th and 11th which caused us to loose the growth and flower buds that we had as well as completely killing some of those buds. This set our Marquette and La Crescent vines back at least one year and we spent time replacing cordons with shoots that had come from the trunks.
We started pruning in late winter, finish early spring and had a great start to 2013 with a decent amount of moisture in the spring of which we missed out on in 2012, with little rainfall in the summer, good for vineyards - they don't like wet feet! and this also reduces disease/fungal pressure. We spent many hours in the vineyard thinning flower buds and shoots to the amount we thought the plant could ripen the grapes to their full potential. Combing, combing, combing... We also took time to position the growth of the top growing wire downward which allows for better sun penetration to the foliage and fruit, air circulation, easier harvest, and in the end, easier to prune - still looking forward to that. ;) Weeds... It is starting to become easier to keep the row free of "weeds" as the vines continue to have a hardier, more woody trunk.
We allowed our half acre of Brianna, half acre of Frontenac Gris, and acre of Frontenac to have a full crop, leaving most of the flower buds but keeping the amount per plant to 72ish flower buds giving us 72ish grape clusters, ideally. Because of the issues we had in the Marquette and La Crescent vineyard in 2012 spring, we kept those to half a crop, removing half of the flower buds.
We harvested our Brianna August 17th at 17 brix. Brianna is harvested a little less ripe to keep the fresh, fruity flavors - that pineapple, banana that we love in the wine!
A huge thank you to everyone who came out to help with harvest this year! We could not have done it without you! After 4 years of growth - the training, the thinning, the combing, the pruning in the bitter cold... It was so rewarding to see such beautiful berries. Looking forward to tasting the 2013 vintages! Cheers!
Pruning is going great! Done with the Frontenac and the Frontenac Gris- I have gone through and cleaned up the Marquette, (they had a rough and messy year last year from the early growth/frost last April). I will be going through again when we are closer to bud break and chances of frost have past to do the final pruning. I am now going through the La Crescent, and then on to the Brianna!
I began pruning today with the Frontenac vines. Hoping for a "normal" spring, and to not see green until May! If you are curious how we decide what to prune, click HERE to see a great step by step video about we decide what to prune put together by our Viticulture Instructor from DMACC. Enjoy this sunny day!
We had our first hard freeze a couple nights ago- so things are a little crispy in the vineyard! The vines have had a chance to harden off pretty decently the past couple weeks with nighttime temperatures gradually lowering so they were ready for it. (stems became more woody rather than green) Happy Fall!
It was a beautiful morning to start our 2012 harvest! This was the first year we let our vines produce --- the past two years we picked off the flower buds before the flowers opened so that the vine could focus on root growth. Brianna grapes are usually the first to be picked in vineyards --- they tend to get foxy if they hang too long. (Foxy : A tasting term for the musty odor and flavor of wines made from Vitis labrusca grapes, like Concord or Catawba, native to North America, usually a negative term.) We want our Brianna to be fresh and fruity! and it all starts with the grapes!! We will be getting many more Brianna grapes within the next couple weeks from the vineyards we work with, and will be keeping track of the sugars and pH on our Frontenac and Frontenac Gris. These tend to have a higher acidity/low pH, so we want to let them hang in order to increase their sugars/lower acidity/increase pH, for a more balanced wine.