Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Potted vineyard... for now.

Hi all!

Seems like an eternity passed since my first post.  The past few weeks have been quite busy since my wife and I are in the process of selling our house and buying a new one.  With a lot less free time, it has been difficult to keep up with things in the vineyard (and this blog) but I figured it was time for an update anyway. 

Here are this year's newborns! 

Temporary vineyard...  waiting for a new home.
All of those were started from cuttings and most are own-rooted hybrids.  But a few varieties ( Reisling and Chardonnay) were grafted to a disease resistant rootstock.  This is my first successful attempt at grafting after having failed miserably last year.  I had ~80 % take/survival rate this year ( none of the grafts took and/or rooted last year). 

Grafted Chardonnay vine.
Grafted Reislng vine.

The rootstock I used is a wild riparia variety that grows everywhere around here and seems to thrive even in very poor locations.  The reasoning behind this was that these wild vines are so well adapted to this environment that they would be good candidates for rootstock.  I guess time will tell... 
One thing I find interesting is that, even though the plants are only a few months old, I can already see a big difference between grafted and own-rooted plants of the same variety.

Grafted Reisling vine (3 months old).
Own-rooted Reisling vine (1+ year old).

Note that the plant on the right is a second year vine started last year from a rooted Reisling cutting.  Seems like my rootstock (left picture) added tons of vigor to a normally low to medium vigor variety.  Another factor could also be that the riparia is a very early budding variety.  That would have given the grafted vine a head start since it would have started growing way before the other. 
Just the beginning...  It will be interesting to compare both vines at the end of the summer, and a year or two from now.

Wild Riparia (rootstock) vine.
Another wild Riparia clone.
I will be experimenting with rootstocks and grafting a lot more because it really seems to make a big difference in growing habits and vigor.  Even with hybrid varieties, even though they don't really need the disease resistance they could benefit from other characteristics of the rootstock like early or  delayed budding, early fruit set and harvests, shorter hardening period, etc.  These are all things you read about but that are difficult to visualize until you can actually see them growing side by side. 

Here are a few more pictures of what I have going on...

Merlot or Cabernet??
(if someone can tell, please help!)
Started from seed 3 years ago.
''Cab-erlot'' leaf.
(again, please help...)

5 year old Pinot Noir flowering.
More flowering Pinot.
Thanks for visiting! 

P.S. I will post a detailed description of my grafting method shortly.  Just sorting out the pictures...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Budding out!


Here are a few pictures of the vineyard in Osgoode.  These plants were planted last spring so these are one-year old plants.  The trellis posts were added at the end of the summer, and the wire earlier this year in april. 

                       Budding out!

These are two of the rare canes that survived the winter.  The first is a Marquette vine that is very winter hardy (to approx. -35 degrees C).  The second one is Sabrevois, another hardy variety.   Most of the other vines died to the ground but are still budding.  They look more like this. 

                       A little bruised but doing ok...

The idea was that I would train one cane the first year to become the main trunk for the following years.  Because of this year's results, I might change strategies and wait for the second year to establish the trunk. This will allow the vine to focus on establishing a good root system in the first year.  It seems that, although the growth was spectacular last year ( almost 7 feet of growth for some...), the shoots might not have been strong or hardened enough to survive winter.  Another factor could have been the very warm weather we've had in March ( a whole week in the 20's... ).  That could have brought the vines out of dormancy just enough to make them very vulnerable to the cold temperatures.  Needless to say, I still have a lot of experimenting to do.  I'm just happy the're all alive and budding!

Trellis pictures...

                                     Whole trellis system.

This is the trellis system I will be using.  I plan on training the vines on a VSP system (vertical shoot positioning).   My main wire is approx. 28-30 in high and will support the cordons or the canes.  I will experiment with both spur and cane pruning but either way, the growth will be trained upwards through a series of catch wires (not installed yet) .

                             End post.                                                                             Earth anchor.

For my posts, I used those pressure treated "mini ties" they sell at landscape or garden stores.  I found them on sale and they were my cheapest option as money was tight.  I put gravel in the bottom of my holes to improve drainage and we also have very sandy soil so they should last a few years...

                                     Just eyeballed the angle... Turned out pretty good!

So for now, I have six 100 ft rows and my spacing is 6 ft between vines and 8 ft between rows.
That means 100 vines give or take.  The whole area is not planted yet but I have a whole new batch of plants that I've started from cuttings this year to fill the empty spots.

Here are the varieties:

 Planted last year:
 Marquette, Frontenac Gris, Frontenac, Marechal Foch, Sabrevois, Baco Noir and some wild Riparia vines (to experiment with and perhaps for breeding).

 Coming this year:
Seyval Blanc, De Chaunac, Landal and some Reisling and Chardonnay vines that I've grafted (first attempt at grafting, more on that later...) on wild riparia rootstock.  Also, a vine started from seeds that came out of batch of wine my father and I made.  It is eather Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot (the seeds got mixed up during winemaking).  I was just curious to see what would happen but the vine actually survived two winters so I'll give it a shot.

Also, a few eating varieties: Steuben Blue, Niagara.

As you can see, busy summer ahead!

Thanks for visiting.

(Next time: New Plants!)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The beginning ...

Hello everyone!

This blog will be about sharing my experiences in building a vineyard from scratch.  All that in Osgoode, Ontario - where the climate is... marginal to say the least.  Everything from building a trellis and starting grapevines from cuttings, to cold climate grape growing, to hopefully making good wine with these grapes one day. 

So stay tuned, more to come soon!