Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Winemaker Magazine Article

I've been very remiss in updating the blog this summer, that will change soon. In the meantime I'm happy to say that I've written my first full-length article in Winemaker Magazine! Te article is entitled "Ripening Techniques For Cool Climate Vineyards" . You can find it in the August-September 2009 issue of Winemaker Magazine. Checkout the website at: www.winemakermag.com

The vineyard this year has been a real challenge. We are experiencing what seems to be the worst summer weather we've had since I planted in 2001. Non-stop cloudy, cool and rainy weather here in the Northeast US. July has been terrible and I've been fending off downy mildew and rot all summer long. I've been trying to keep the canopy very thin but it's been difficult. I'm still keeping up hope for a hot sunny August and September. I hope your vintage is going well in your vineyard. I'll post some pictures and updates soon.

19 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear about the weather. We've had similarly dreary weather up here in Ontario. Great news about the magazine though. :)

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  2. Thanks Eric!

    I still have hope for a good vintage though. If worst comes to worst and the grapes don't ripen well enough for red wine, I'll make lots of good rose'.

    -Dave.

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  3. Jeremiah PattersonJuly 25, 2009 at 8:49 AM

    Hi David,

    I read the article last night and it was wonderful. Great job. It was a nice break from trying to battle this daily deluge of rain.

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  4. Jeremiah,

    Thanks! I'm with you on the rain. I'm keeping my canopy very thin this year. We'll see what happens. Let's hope for a hot dry August-October. All the best!

    -Dave.

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  5. Hi Dave,
    I just noticed downy mildew on a couple of my vines. I have thinned their canopies, but it wasn't too crowded bad to begin with. Do you think I should spray at this point? What happens if I don't? The leaves and canes don't appear to be suffering too bad, and I'm not concerned about the crop this year, although I don't see any problems with the grapes. Also I seem to have some foliar phylloxera, but I understand there isn't much I can do about that. I appreciate your advice.
    - Eric

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  6. Eric,

    you should spray. If you don't the mildew will continue to spread and cause damage. Moisture and humidity will cause downy mildew to spread and downy usually shows up before other diseases like black rot or powdery mildew. I don't like to spray and do it as little as possible, but in a year like this if you put it off you can have problems that will continue on because these diseases overwinter and will show up again next year.
    Don't worry about the leaf galls, sometimes I squeeze them flat to kill the phylloxera larva, but I don't know how much that helps if at all. But it makes me feel better!

    -Dave.

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  7. Thanks Dave,
    I went ahead and sprayed. Have a good week.
    Eric

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  8. Hi Dave,

    Great article! I have already referred back to it a few times. I am in the first year of establishing my backyard vinyard and am running into my first few problems. 1) I seem to be getting some black rot developing on my riesling and vidal. I have young children so want to use the least toxic spray. I have heard that a milk based spray can be effective - any recommendations?

    I have also noticed that despite ensuring that the graft union is at least 4 inches above the ground some of the roots are starting to break through the wax. What is the best way to address this issue?

    Thanks
    Peter

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  9. Pieter,

    Thanks for stopping by!Black rot is a problem and can be very prolific if you don't control it. I don't have any experience with milk based sprays but I do understand how you feel as I have two young daughters myself. I have experimented with organic controls and did so for a whole season one year. Unfortunately they did not work for me and I had a very poor crop that year and a lot of damage. I have since worked to find the minimum amount of spray I can use and compensate with a very open canopy. My girls also know that the vineyard is off-limits for two days after a spray and I monitor that. That may be extreme, but I feel better that way. And I never spray on windy days.

    As for the scion roots, just cut them off or pull the off with your fingers. That wont harm the vine at all. Make sure you do it though, you don't want to defeat the purpose of your grafts. Best of success on your vineyard!

    -Dave.

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  10. Dave,

    Are your grapes starting to ripen yet? I have my first concord I started a couple years ago ripening and I am going to have a pretty good harvest. Well for one vine anyway. Oh well the others are growing well.

    Joel

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  11. Its been terrible here in MN. Cold and rainy. I had a question about winterizing. I noticed that you hill up your vines. Can I accomplish this by using potting soil, only seven vines. Our ground is mostly clay and hard to dig up. Can grass clippings be used for insulation or would this cause more damage than good to the vines. Thanks and keep up the great blog.

    David

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  12. David,

    Sorry for the slow reply. The grass clippings and potting soil could be used. The thing is you need to make sure you get the graft union covered well with a good 5-6" of soil, etc. That's why I use the sod around my vines. It is dense and thick so it has a good r-value. Best of success!

    -Dave

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  13. Hi Dave! My husband and I are starting a small winery with our farmland in north Jersey. Thank you for your blog! I am going out shorty to hill up our 1st year grafted vines. My concern is the winter wind effect on the canes. The are so precisou to me! :) My babies! haha The wind by us is pretty constant and the west to east curent can be very strong at times. We decided not to use tubes, and I thnk it is too late for them now. Any thoughts?? Thank you kindly in advance!

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  14. Kelly,

    Congratulations on starting your winery! Well, I have never had wind affect any matured canes in may vineyard. Usually ambient temperatures are the concern. However, I don't get the kind of wind you are describing, so I really can't say what might happen.
    What i have done in the past though with first year canes is this: Since they are so small, they are very flexible. You can easily just bend them and lay the cane on the ground. Us some wire to make a "pin" to hold them down and cover them with soil or other insulating material. Or you could just use soil to hold them to the ground since they are not very rigid. I describe the procedure in more detail here in this post: http://www.backyardvineyardandwinery.com/2008/01/2007-villa-ruzzo-cabernet-franc.html

    Just be a little careful of the graft union, don't bend the vine there. But they should be fine, I've done it many times and never had any problems. Then just remember to uncover the vine in early spring, as soon as the threat of damaging winter lows is over.

    Hope that helps! I Wish you lots of success!
    -Dave

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  15. Thank you for your response! Before I posted here I had already tied the canes (which some reach the 3rd wire already) to the trellis. Your suggestion is interesting and I now recall someone who does something similar. I am soooo afraid of the bend near the graft like you mentioned being careful about. I fear one heavy snow with a thick crust layer would snap it. I also read about straw bags, but that is alot of work for 70 vines. This grape business is quite stressful! :)

    So, you, in the past, have let your 1st year canes stand straight up with a hill of dirt at the base and no problems during the cold NE winter?

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  16. Kelly,

    Sorry I missed your second question. I have left canes straight up, but I usually bury them. I have yet to lose any vine to cold, but I know it coul dhappen at any time. All the best and keep me posted on how it's going. Thanks,

    -Dave.

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  17. I hill up my vines in Missouri. I purchased a Green Hoe from a company in the Finger Lakes. It works great, I broke it three times by hitting some roots but took it off and had it welded for better.

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  18. Sorry, my url is www.amigoni.com and i am winemaker for urban winery in kansas city, labels: Inland Sea, and Amigoni Estate wines.

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  19. I grow Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Chard, and Viognier. We had some really low temps lately like 9 below, I will probably get a little bud damage so I will have to deal with it.

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