bcgrapes

The vineyard 411 with Robin - less is sometimes more

Cab-Foch vines with lots of healthy looking clusters of grapes on them.

Cab-Foch vines with lots of healthy looking clusters of grapes on them.

So one of the big tasks that need to be done on all of our vineyards is shoot thinning, and yes it does mean that we are going to each vine and taking off shoots of the vines that do have clusters on them. While it may seem backward that we are taking off potential product for the coming harvest, we are actually going to increase the volume and ripeness in the grapes when we pick them.

The grapevine itself needs a careful balance of shoots per length of vine, that will ensure there is enough energy to fully ripen the berries. If there are too many shoots the vine will ripen every cluster partially, it won’t swell the berries to full size, and you are left with little juice and under-ripe berries (not what a winemaker wants to turn wine into).

By taking off some of the shoots, we are ensuring that the vine has enough energy to fully grow and ripen the berries in the next few months of summer and autumn. By taking off extra shoots and clusters we will end up with more volume and riper grapes-so sometimes less is more!

When we are going through the vineyard, the shoots that we are looking to take off are:

  1. Shoots with no grape clusters

  2. Shoots that are smaller in length than the average of that vine

  3. Shoots with smaller clusters of grapes

  4. Shoots with clusters of grapes with poor fruit set

fruitset.jpg

Fruit Set

So when I say fruit set, I am taking about the grapes that have been self pollinated like this cluster here.

This cluster is an example of good fruit set. There are grape berries evenly spread around the main stem, there are no big gaps in berries in the cluster, and the grapes are all increasing size at the same pace.

When we are looking for clusters that are poor fruit set, which happens all the time in the vine, we are looking for all those things mentioned and then removing that cluster so that the vine can focus on ripening a better set cluster.


Isn’t that beautiful?

Isn’t that beautiful?

My last photo I will leave you with this week is a shot from our Cab-Foch showing just where they are at. With our trellising system at the winery, we actually start the grapes at 5 ft up and let them hang down. This means no tucking the vines and very little maintenance.

Our grapes are almost touch the ground now so we have between 4-5 ft of growth which is the perfect length for them to start ripening at. While this vineyard doesn’t look as tidy as our others, I love the feeling walking through this vineyard. So enjoy one of my favourite work views.

Cheers,

Robin

The vineyard 411 with Robin - back again

Hello again!

I know it’s been a few weeks but I’ve just gotten back from a trip to Ontario with the family to go to my convocation! I officially can say that I have a Bachelor of Science in Oenology and Viticulture from Brock University! I just had to include a photo from the CCOVI (Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture) Research Center where I did my thesis. And while we were away we did in fact get to “research” some of the Niagara wineries, which was interesting to show a different part of Canadian wine.

That is one of my thesis Gamay Noir wines that I made in October that I’m holding. We got to go into the very limited access and alarmed cellar of commercial and research wine.

That is one of my thesis Gamay Noir wines that I made in October that I’m holding. We got to go into the very limited access and alarmed cellar of commercial and research wine.

cabfoch.jpg

In the vineyards we’ve gone from pre-bloom to fruit set in our experimental vineyard and bloom in the others. It is really interesting to see how spread out the vineyards get from each other depending on weather, grape varietal, and soil. Of our three vineyards our estate vineyard is by easily the most advanced in the growing season. The picture here is our Cab-Foch hybrid with tiny grape berries that will start swelling from now until mid-summer. This is the stage of fruit set in which we can see which flowers have successfully set the fruit which will be our harvest for the year.

capfall.jpg

Then about a week behind that vineyard is our Mountain Road road vineyard which is roughly a ten minute drive from the winery. When we came back from Ontario we went and checked all the vineyards and that one was in full bloom and it smelled so amazing. This picture to the left is a cluster right in the middle of cap-fall. On my fingers are the caps that the florescence give way to expose the flowers in the cluster. Those caps litter the ground below and then the vineyard blooms.

hugeflowercluster.jpg

My last photo is an example of hopefully the difference between pruning and what a difference it can make. For the last few years in our estate vineyard we have been doing a method called “spur-pruning” where you leave the cane from last year on the fruiting wire and cut back each shoot to two buds. This method is fast, easy and doesn’t have a chance of ripping off the buds when the wood is getting pulled. Think of it like giving the vine a hair cut. But lately we’ve been finding the grape clusters from the years getting smaller and less fruit.

So this year in hopes to get bigger clusters and more grapes we switched over pruning methods to “cane-pruning”. This is the method where you find two long, healthy looking shoots near the crown of the plant and cut everything else off and lay down those canes for the next year. This changes the cane every year, but you can have more shoot breakage as you lay them down and knock off buds as you tie it down. There’s a lot more effort; but looking at the clusters so far it looks like cane pruning was a success in getting the vineyard up in production. Just look at the cluster, it’s as big as my whole hand! Now we just hope that the grapes swell up nicely in the next months and the crop this year will hopefully our biggest yet!

So there was the vineyard 411 for this week. Next week another update and the decisions we make.

Cheers,

Robin

BSc. Oenology and Viticulture ‘19

The vineyard 411 with Robin- different grape varieties

The vineyard 411 with Robin- different grape varieties

As promised I have a few of our different grape varieties from our vineyards to compare and show just how different grape vines can be from each other and the methods we use to determine that. As well I have an update from the progress of the vines and what the jobs/steps that are next this week. And finally I introduce my main partner in vine (see what I did there?) Tawny the golden retriever.

The vineyard 411 with Robin

The vineyard 411 with Robin

Your 411 on all things vine! Every week I’ll be taking you through the vineyards of Rocky Creek and explaining exactly what stage the vines are at, what we are doing in the vineyard to ensure the best quality grapes will be grown for our harvest this year, and as well as the considerations we take and some of the decisions that are made. Fresh from my degree at Brock University for winemaking and viticulture I’m excited to let you into the world of wine, as great wine can only be made from great grapes!