Discussions and questions (vintages, winemaking, etc) for those ITB. All are welcome to post.
Here's a link to an analysis of our weather forecast for the next week: http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php ... hlight=off
In short, it looks like we are in for a potential 2.5 inches but the heaviest rain should be east of here. At best the vines will see no sun for at least a week. Red grape harvest is getting pushed later and later. We're going to have to have one heck of a bright and sunny October because November is usually a cold and wet month and when the season ending killing frost arrives.
I am glad I am not doing this for a living and its just a hobby as I am starting to think I could loose my entire crop this year. Brix are low, flavor is bad, rot in increasing, and more rain on the way. In a funny twist, seeds are very brown but don't taste ripe at all. Berries are so swollen that if I get a harvest I am going to have to bled a lot. Sangio grapes are the size of Thompson Seedless.
Well, we dodged another big wet bullet yesterday. All of the heavy rains passed well east of here and we only received .25 inch. But we also had another day without sun, although it peeked out briefly late in the evening. This system has now stalled and so there is a 30 to 50 percent chance of a passing shower for the next 4 days. Then maybe we will see some continuous sun...we need it. We are still working our way through the Merlot dropping damaged berries. In some places half of the cluster was lost. Most are okay though. Will walk the vines later today. Discovered yesterday that our primary red grape sorting table's electronics control panel did not make it through the winter so a new one is in route from Michigan. Glad we caught this before grapes were on the crush pad.
About another inch of rain on Friday. The Vidal had already started cracking and rotting from the aftermath of TS Lee, now it is underway again. This is definitely the worst vintage since we started growing grapes in 1974. In less than a month we have had over 16 inches of rain. We are closing in on our rainest month ever, June of 1972 with over 18 inches from Agnes. I have to laugh when the west coast berserkers have a topic titled "Winemaking in a Difficult Vintage." They don't have a clue what a difficult vintage is. I would love to see their response to 16 inches of rain at harvest. Sugars have been going down since August, acidities going up and pH remaining stable. What was left of the Seyval was picked at 18.7, but had been up to 19.5 in August. I didn't even bother with Pinot Noir. It was and is a total loss. Still hanging on but totally shot. From the Lancaster Valley, Pennsylvania.
Life's a bitch and then you marry a vineyard.
No it's not quite that bad but it is raining again. One day of sun and three with rain. Hard to get happy. And now there's talk of frost.
So Merlot. After being quite surprised with a sudden flavor development in both of our older planting blocks we grabbed a little over 3 tons from 1.1 acres on Monday. Crushing it today. Sugars are a tad low but the flavors are ripe and ready. Yields were also a bit high but that's what you get after 6+ inches of rain over the last 30 days. Also about 5% botrytis but most of this was shook out during picking and the rest will be sorted out today. Will bleed about 13% for Rose. Very surprising was the fact that 3 young plantings are not ready yet but they did have some flowering issues back in the summer.
The wet weather this past week did a number on my friend's grape vineyard. Went out today to help pick chardonnay, malbec, & riesling. The going was slow because each bunch had armies of wasps, hornets, and bees. Many pickers got punctured, lost their nerve and headed home. Yellow jackets predominated but there were European and Baldface hornets along with honey and bumble bees. We brought the malbec and riesling in but the chardonnay will have to wait until tomorrow. Didn't get stung but many others were hit 5-7 times before they quit. Not fun but it is what it is. My friend mentioned that a week ago their were no issues but after a week of muggy weather the grapes deteriorated quickly and the flying friends came in for the sweet juice. Bummer.
I'm currently in a holding, molding pattern. The forecast for the last 2 weeks has not changed: 3 days of rain followed by 3 days of sun. Only problem has been that it never changed, the fourth day out becomes the third day out and it rains. Right now it's forcasted to be cloudy and cool with showers through Monday and Tuesday being this glorious sunny day. Nope, it will be Groundhog day.
We still have a little Merlot hanging which is looking pretty sound and tasting ripe and our Cabernet Franc has turned the corner but has around 50% Botrytis. Both will be picked whenever we can get back out into the fields. Most of it will be left under the vines and sorting tables. Cabernet Sauvignon is just showing signs of Botrytis infection but is way under ripe. Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng look great. We will make some "good" wine and not much of it, too. What a drastic downward change this year took. During September 2011 in Virginia you count the time the sun was visible in hours not days.
Unbelievable ! I didn't believe it at first but when I looked at the weather maps they show areas in WV with 3-6" snow projected. Yikes what a year.........
3/4s of an inch in the gauge this morning with another 1/4 inch forecasted for tomorrow. Highs today in the 40's and 30's overnight. We cannot get a break. Hasn't been this bad since 2003, the worst year in Virginia viticulture ever. Grapes were just showing some nice flavors, too. Will inspect tomorrow but pretty sure Merlot and Cabernet Franc will come in later this week as a high pressure is "supposed" to dominate. I do not think the vines are taking up much water anymore as it's been so cool and without any sunlight for so long but I'm sure Botrytis is flourishing and probably some downy at the top of the canopy.
Great seasonal vine updates on this thread...keep up the good work everyone.
I'm a hobbiest grower from southeastern PA growing merlot, cab sav, cab franc, chardonnay. The season sure took a bad turn since Irene...swollen berries and low Brix. Before Irene things were going just great. Since late August we get two days of semi-sunny weather and three days of off and on rain and clouds. Now, can't seem to maintain any Brix above 19. Harvested the Chardonnay two weeks ago (18.5 Brix) as it was showing signs of 20% - 30% Botrytis and sour rot. Dropped many clusters but hopefully the Botrytis will add some additional flavor to the wine. Raining again today but supposed to improve this wednesday through the weekend. I may be forced to harvest the merlot and cab franc this weekend with the dryer weather pattern. I don't see additional hang time improving any sugar levels at this point, and wasps are taking a major toll on berry damage this year. Don't want to delay harvest any longer. Cab Sav is unharvestable at this point - wasps and rot made a quick mess of the clusters in the last two weeks, and Brix levels are still low (17.5).
Don't worry about low sugars, we are not California. If you have any sound CS just pick it and try making the wine. Add a good dose of yeast to get the fermentation going rapidly. Acidity and pH levels are now good although the sugars are low. It's easy to add sugar. Our Chambourcin on September 24 was less than 18 Brix, yet the acidity was .77 and the pH was 3.24. Many years our chambourcin is at 1.00 to 1.2 TA. We will picking that later in the week. It is supposed to stop raining on Tuesday Oct 4. I picked some Merlot on September 24 at 15.5 brix. It will not make a great Merlot but so far its not too bad. from the rainy Lancaster Valley, PA
Been a little busy here since the sun came back out. Brought in 3rd leaf Cabernet Franc with 4th leaf vines coming in tomorrow. Nice ripe flavors, moderate sugars and lots of botryis, but most of it was cut out in the field and also sorted out before crushing. We did end up dropping on the ground about a quarter ton of Merlot from 2 acres of 3rd leaf vines. Sunny days and cool nights in the forecast until Tuesday of next week. Should get most everything in and crushed except a little old vine Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot by then.
Lovin this dry warm weather. Harvested the merlot yesterday. Numbers aren't bad considering all the wet days through summer... 19 brix, 3.5 pH, .70 TA. Bringing in the cab franc tomorrow evening before the rain starts again on Wednesday.
Since for me its just a hobby made the decision on Saturday to not havest at all this year. Everything is still below 20 brix with Barbera being the closest at 19. Usually harvest Barbera at the end of Sept at about 22 brix. Not only is the sugar low but I just don't like the flavor that is there now so with another rain on its way, its time to say wait til next year. Crop was way down with rot and going to take a lot of work to make a small amount of wine that I don't think I was going to like anyway given the flavors of the grapes.
Still having a problematic vintage here in the east. After 5 days of sun, 1 to 2 inches of rain for today with a little more on Thursday. But then we are to have another 5 or 6 days of sun. Cabernet Franc came in last week. Lots of culling in the field and sorting on the crush pad but results are good. Flavors are red and ripe, brix in the low 23s, acids right where I want them. Still have a little over 6 acres hanging, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon plus an acre of Petit Verdot and some Late Harvest Petit Manseng. Pressing Merlot today and adding yeast to a barrel of Cabernet Franc Rose.
Well Cab Franc was worse than I thought. Harvested last night but after weaning out the best clusters from the overall rot problem, probably ended up with a 25% harvest. 19 brix and acids were okay. Oh well...already thinking of next year. Can only get better, right? I'm thinking of trying a different strategy to obtain smaller berries thus better flavors, especially considering this years water swelling situation. Typically I cluster thin to one cluster per shoot right before flowering. Next year I am considering leaving both clusters and then thin to one cluster just before veraison. I'm thinking two developing clusters will cause the berries to remain even smaller. Anyone have any thoughts?
2 inches in the gauge from the last 2 days and it's still raining. Supposed to be sunny later this afternoon, Saturday, Sunday and Monday before another wet cold front arrives on Tuesday. I still have Cab and PV hanging...barely.
3 inches in the gauge here at 9:30 am Fri. with some 3rd leaf CS, CF, PV and Tannat still hanging. Looked at it yesterday afternoon. Not good. I wonder if it's
worth picking at all? We also buy fruit from several other NoVA vineyards and the situation everywhere seems to be all the same.
Still drizzling and sticky here. I've noticed that a number of the 4" pressure treated row posts have rotted out at the base. The ground has been damp for two months and has taken a toll on them...the posts are only 5 years old. It gives me a December project to replace them.
I live in the DC area but only just today spent time reading the last two months of the East Coast vintage thread. Geez, a really bad year for rain in the mid-atlantic region, particularly the last two months when weather is cricical for final maturation before harvest. Thus, very sorry to hear all the bad news - best going forward.
Good posts should last longer than 5 years. Also the heavier the post the better. A larger circumference post has less surface area for the total amount of treated wood. When buying posts you must check the amount of preservative. Some treated wood is actually only for above ground use (0.2 lbs preservative per cubic foot of wood). Below ground vineyard posts must be 0.4 lbs per cubic foot. Posts from the same batch will differ in how long they last. Some of our posts have been in for 36 years while others have broken. If 4 inch posts rot in five years something is wrong. Don't buy from that supplier again. Do not try to save money on thinner posts. The extra expense for heavier posts is well worth it. Most treated vineyard posts should last for thirty years.
Brought in our 3rd and 4th leaf Cab yesterday, 3.2 tons from 2.7 acres, sadly leaving behind half the fruit. We only picked the pristine clusters. Many had already given up the ghost during the last rain event. By waiting, we gained just a little more sugar accumulation, I believe the brix to be in the 21 to 22 range, but a lot of mature red fruit flavors. They'll make a pretty wine with low alcohol, enjoyable young but probably not long lived wines. Today we're bringing more Cab fruit from some much older vines planted on less steep slopes that did not fair very well either. Petit Verdot is still hanging tough and will be brought in late in the week. When blended, it hopefully will save the 2011 red wine vintage.
Quick update. Harvested .5 ton from a .8 acre block of Cab. Another ton, estimated, was left on the ground. Our 1996 planting of Cabernet Sauvignon is still not ready...not sure it will ever be. The clusters are either beautiful but under ripe or ugly and full of rots. Another rain event with 1 inch potential is coming here Tuesday night. Will probably bring in the PV, the star of the vintage, ahead of this weather.
The only thing we have left hanging is some Petit Manseng both here and at a vineyard in Round Hill, VA.
We plan to bring it all in Sunday and Monday. Then we're done and all we have to deal with is the under-ripe
greenness that characterizes this (mostly) miserable vintage.
Been a busy week. Brought in all but one of our plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon. 2/3s was left in the field but the 1/3 we picked was clean with some nice red fruit flavors. Brix around 21.5, pH around 3.8 and TA around 4.5. I won't complain. Unfortunately our oldest Cab planting is a total loss. Planted in 1996, this is the first year that it will not be harvested. This hurts. We also brought in all of our Petit Verdot, again the star of the red grape harvest. Completely clean, no fruit left behind and juice samples taken before the 4 day cold soak show Brix from 23.5 to 24 with tons of dark red color and great flavors. PV will be a major blending componet. Food for thought for those who may be thinking of farming grapes in the Mid-Atlantic. If I was going to become a wine grape grower in the east, I'd plant lots of Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng.
So it's pressing grapes and filling barrels for a few weeks and also a little Late Harvest Petit Manseng after the first killing frost. Then Thanksgiving and lots of sleep.
All in all, given the September we went through I'm happy with what we have to work with. Although I thought I'd be working with much more. But I think the wines will be lovely. Fruity, low alcohol, easy drinking. Not to be aged, but quite quaffable young. And quite representative of the year. Exactly what wine should be.
Taking a half day today, first since the rains stopped. Did my punch downs. Fed my yeasts. Walked the old Cab vines one last time to confirm it's over and also walked the late harvest Petit Manseng...tasty. Wife Kelly, dogs and I are heading into the Park forest for a hike and nap under the falling leaves. More punch downs this evening.
It's late October and I'm glad to see the vine leaves are still green, though looking a little ragged, but creating some good carbohydrates to survive the long cold winter. My spray schedule seems to have worked well throughout the season despite the challenging soggy weather. First hard frost is probably soon to arrive in the next couple weeks...
4 to 9 inches of the white stuff coming tonight and Saturday. My Late Harvest Petit Manseng is going to look the part in the morning.
Here's our current radar: http://www.intellicast.com/National/Rad ... imate=true The blue is expanding as it moves north and will pass right over us.
2 inches of snow covering the ground with another 4 to 8 expected today and already I can hear the echoing sounds of tree limbs cracking under the weight. Vines still have their leaves too. Could be the exclamation mark to a disastrous vintage.
Winery had to close yesterday. Roads blocked by snow and fallen tree limbs, plus no power for 12 hours. Just back from a hike up to 1,300 feet where our Petit Manseng is planted. Everything looks good but strange seeing green leaves and white ground. Got down to 28F last night and leaves are frozen solid, so some sun and a little breeze and they'll be all off. PM will probably be harvested later in the week. Sweet, maybe 30/32 Brix. Pressing some Cab in the morning.
With snow, heavy wind, and freezing temperatures I can only hope that most of the vines in the northeast had enough time for sufficient sugar storage before this last weather event and the soft tissues survive for warmer weather this week to continue hardening off. Parts of CT saw 18-24 inches of snow. Eventhough we had only freezing temps in my region the wind gusts will hit >50 mph today...bye-bye leaves.....Gary