This all began with a few vines of established seedless Concord vines. These vines were decades old, never pruned and neglected. Little did we know that caring for these vines would turn into a fun-filled hobby. After caring for and learning how to get these vines back in order, it was decided to expand these few vines into a Vineyard capable of producing quality wines.
The Vineyard began in the Spring of 2004 as a small variety of the already established Concord along with the new plantings of Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Chambourcin, Frontenac, Marechal Foch. All of these vines were purchased as cuttings and rooted in pots indoors. With some success, the vines were planted in the Vineyard rows. After learning much more about the care of these vines and having good success, we decided to expand and try our hand at French vinifera varieties in the remaining rows where the cuttings did not take.
We added Merlot and Chardonnay to the Vineyard and removed the Chambourcin. The vines grew well in 2005 with the Vidal Blanc being the most successful at propagating pruned cuttings. These vines will be ready for a harvest in 2006.
In the spring of 2006 we added more rows to the Vineyard and planted additional Merlot and Chardonnay, along with new plantings of Cabernet Franc. The now two year old Frontenac and Seyval Blanc vines were removed and sold. The current vineyard contains 80 vines which includes 9 Concord, 9 Vidal Blanc, 12 Merlot, 12 Chardonnay and 38 Cabernet Franc. They exist in 7 rows, 72 feet long and spaced 10 feet apart.
|The trellis consists 6" pressure treated round posts, purchased at a local Amish mill, buried in the ground two feet. |
High tensile 12.5 gauge aluminum clad wire is used for the main fruiting wire, catch wires and wires connecting posts to the 30" earth augers that are in the ground and help keep the posts vertical.
Tension is applied to the main fruiting wire using wire ratchets on one end. High tensile wire attached to galvanized chain at each end is used to move and position catch wires above the main wire.
All wires are fastened together using the Gripple brand of wire joiners which are simple to use and require no special tools or crimpers.
Just about all of my trellising supplies were purchased from Orchard Valley Supply. Check them out for anything you might need!
|I use the Blue-X vine shelters for starting all of my vines. Not only do they help the vine grow faster (I've proved it!), but they protect the vine from whitetail deer that frequent our field, and any herbicide sprays used to keep the weeds away.|
When it comes to accelerating vine growth, they do indeed work! I've left a couple of "extra" vines that were not in grow tubes and I can say with certainty that the vines grow nearly twice as fast within the shelters!
We use bamboo cut into four foot lengths to keep the vines growing straight (cut from the property), and tie a vine shelter to each slipping it over the vine. Then just a bit of mulch is used to cover the bottom of the tube, as the directions say to do. At around $1.00 each, they are definately worth the cost.
The only disadvantage is that once the vine has grown cordons, you can no longer use this vine shelter. But at that point, they are no longer necessary anyway.
I purchased my Vine-X vine shelters from Orchard Valley Supply.
We harvested the 2006 Vidal Blanc's on September 21, 2006 and immediately crushed and destemmed them. Bottling took place on August 7th, 2007! Now I have to get a label created.
In 2007 we'll have a full harvest of Concord and Vidal Blanc in the vineyard. We'll have our first harvest of Merlot and Chardonnay, with twice the number of vines able to be harvested next year in 2008. Next year will also be the first harvest of our numerous Cabernet Franc vines.
It looks like harvest of the Vidal Blanc will be near mid-August, with Merlot and Chardonnay following a couple of weeks later.
Below you'll find photos of the Vineyard. Enjoy!