Wednesday, 31 July 2013


The last few posts have really been all about our vines that we planted and a few hopes we have.  While planting was a really big chore and feels like it should be  the end of all our work, it is not.  In fact it is really only the beginning.  Volunteers have been quite busy since June with a number of chores and tasks.

Irrigation: we are a fairly damp climate, and hopefully once the vines have been established we will not need to irrigate too much, but now when they are young, we do.  We went with a drip system as it is the best method and pretty simply to install.  Built-in emitters spaced every 18" and providing 0.5 gallons of water per hour.
We broke the vineyard into three zones so it takes a full day to water it all.

Bark Mulch: Plenty of volunteers showed up on mulching day and it went surprisingly fast due to the assistance of small bobcat that was able to scoop and dump strategically along the rows. Thanks Allan and Barbara!  We ran out towards the end, so we still have a few more partial rows to finish off.  I fear the mulch chore will be a yearly event, but for now it provides great weed control and moisture retention.

Weeding/Mowing:  The mulch works really well, evident by comparing the areas without to area with it.  But it is not perfect, so weed control around the vines and mowing is an on-going chore.

Vineyard Maintenance: - as the vines grow they tend to bend, twist and attached to just about anything so we have to continually "tie" the vines up to our stakes to ensure we get a nice straight stock, growing where we want them to.  This is also an going chore, with some vines really taking off and others a little slower.  Out of the 900ish vines we planted only 6 failed to produce shoots, which is amazing success rate.

This year we are all about root development and less about vigour.

So far all look healthy and green with no nutrient or disease concerns.  It may be a bit biased to say, but is there anything more wonderful to look at then a healthy looking vineyard after three+ years of research and planning?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Research Plot - Blattner Varieties

If you have been following along with the previous posts, there have been short discussions on 15 of the varieties we planted in our research plot.  The remaining 6 are part of the "Blattner" species, 3 white and 3 red.  This represents a new breed of grape that was created by Swiss grape geneticist Valentin Blattner by crossing Vinifera and other sub species.  The goal was to create a disease resistant plant and from all accounts this has been a success with varieties now grown in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, and Canada.  
The Blattner vines are really the domain of Omega Vines on Salt Spring Island and as they are quite new to vineyards, there is not a lot of information out there except what they have published.  Kudos to them for the great work.  

Petite Milo -  a complex cross of Cabernet Sauvignon, the American species Riperia and the Asian species Amurensis.  A very early ripening pink grape well suited for areas with high moisture periods. The grapes can achieve quite high sugar levels while retaining good acidity.
Epicure  - a complex cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and a number of Asian grape varieties. A mid season ripening white grape, with large clustered vines with small leaves and exceptional disease resistance. 

We also planted a new research white, simply called 48-05-49.  I tasted this before and if I recall it was quite similar to a viognier style. 

We planted Cab Libra, Labelle and another research type, 48-05-83.  All are early to mid-season ripening and with the same disease resistance consistent with the Blattner vines in general.  

That is what we planted.  Stay tuned over the next few years as we chart our progress with these varieties and offer tidbits of info that you may find interesting, useful or just laughable.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Research Plot - Vinifera and Hybrid Red Vareties

Okay It has been a while since my last post, but never the less here is a brief summary on some of the reds we planted.  We planted seven Vinifera and Hybrid types.  For those counting from the last post, that makes only 15 of the 21.  My next post will explain the remaining six "Blattner" types.

Baltica - a hybrid of four different species of grape VitisAmurensisLabruscaRiparia andVinifera.  Baltica ripens exceptionally early and is quite disease resistant, although it can suffer from post harvest powdery mildew in poor weather.

Baco Noir - a hybrid of Vinifera and Riparia with French origins.  An old species that dates back to to the late 1890's.  Originally brought to Canada in the 1950's, most of the vines were pulled out in the 1980s as part of a "vine pull" program.  Does quite well in cooler climates, with wine similar to a Pinot Noir.
Leon Millot - a hybrid of Vinifera and Riparia, created in early 1900's in Alsace, France.   Leon Millot ripens quite early, has good growth vigour and is highly resistant to fungal disease.  The grapes are quite small, making it difficult to harvest, but it can produce big flavour wines (compared to Syrah).  A relative to Marechal Foch.

Marquette - a complex hybrid, meaning many crosses of Vinifera and other Vitis species.   Really a new variety, only introduced in 2006.  Cold hardy, resistant to powdery mildew and black rot.  Produces a high sugar, moderate acid berry.  Some early wine entries have received rave reviews and we see this as a very promising red variety for the area.

Pinot Noir  - a Vinifera species.  We selected Clone 115 for our research as it consistently produces wines of impressive aroma, structure and balance from many different locations.  It tends to like cooler climates, but is fairly susceptible to most diseases, wind damage and frost.   Pinot is such a great wine we could not resist trying it in our research plot.  This vine is on root stock SO4, which makes it slightly more resistant to frost.

Regent - a hybrid of Vinifera and other Vitis species with German origins.  Has very good resistance to fungal diseases as well, but can susceptible to flower rot which can prevent fruit set if there is a lot of spring rains. Similar to Pinot Noir  in that it will require some management in the vineyard, but the potential it has might make it worth it.

Zweigelt -  a Vinifera species.  Developed as a cross between  Saint-Laurent and Blaufrankisch with German origins.  Zweigelt likes cooler temperatures and buds late so is ideal for areas with late spring frosts.  Personally a favourite red of mine that pairs real nice with turkey dinner.