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Articles and blogs

Date: Thu, Apr 24, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

_ Wines and Vines has an article on the Oregon wine industry. Especially interesting: 53% of the state's crop is Pinot Noir. I wonder what that means from a marketing standpoint, relying so heavily on a single varietal. I'm anxious to learn more about the industry once we're settled out there. I'll put a Web 2.0 spin on wine marketing in an upcoming post.

_ The Godfather now has his own blog. Missouri vinifera will still have an online reference after I'm gone.

_ UM's ICCVE launched its first issue of the Midwest Winegrower.

_ Oregon State's April wine research newsletter is also available. I'll look forward to learning more about the OSU Wine Institute.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Articles and blogs

Date: Thu, Apr 24, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

_ Wines and Vines has an article on the Oregon wine industry. Especially interesting: 53% of the state's crop is Pinot Noir. I wonder what that means from a marketing standpoint, relying so heavily on a single varietal. I'm anxious to learn more about the industry once we're settled out there. I'll put a Web 2.0 spin on wine marketing in an upcoming post.

_ The Godfather now has his own blog. Missouri vinifera will still have an online reference after I'm gone.

_ UM's ICCVE launched its first issue of the Midwest Winegrower.

_ Oregon State's April wine research newsletter is also available. I'll look forward to learning more about the OSU Wine Institute.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

We have budbreak

Date: Tue, Apr 22, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

Here it is at last, a full three weeks after last year. This is budbreak on a classic, #2 pencil-sized spur on a traminette vine. We didn't have an ultra-mild February and March this year.

I don't know how I'm going to keep up a viticulture blog after we move to Oregon and I no longer have even a test vineyard to photograph, though I hear there's a few vines in the Willamette Valley. I'll have to do more interviews and spend some time in other folks' vineyards. I'll figure out my blogging niche once I get out there. Until then, I'll keep posting about grapes and wine with an emphasis on the vines.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

We have budbreak

Date: Tue, Apr 22, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

Here it is at last, a full three weeks after last year. This is budbreak on a classic, #2 pencil-sized spur on a Traminette vine. We didn't have an ultra-mild February and March this year like we did last year, causing our early budbreak and subsequent disaster.

I don't know how I'm going to keep up a viticulture blog after we move to Oregon and I no longer have even a test vineyard to photograph, though I hear there are a few vines in the Willamette Valley. I'll have to do more interviews and spend some time in other folks' vineyards. I'll figure out my blogging niche once I get out there. Until then, I'll keep posting about grapes and wine with an emphasis on the vines.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Final pruning

Date: Sun, Apr 20, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

I thought it would be demoralizing, pruning the vines of my test vineyard for the very last time. Pruning is an exciting time because, through the principles of spare parts viticulture, you can correct problems and redesign each vine with an eye on making it better this season and beyond. You can replace trunks, improve shoot distribution, train new cordons, eliminate long spurs. On every single vine you can strive for that elusive goal: perfection. Sometimes you get closer, especially as your skill and knowledge improve. Often you do not. But each vine you touch is an opportunity.

This year, however, I won't be able to view the fruits of my labor. I won't be able to see what affect my pruning has had on this year's crop and next year's winter survival. Last year was a weather disaster in our region, so I was really looking forward to this year to wipe the slate clean. Signs are good...this time last year we had four-inch shoots on the traminette. We're at least three weeks delayed this year on budbreak...a good thing.

So, for all these reasons, I thought I might be a little depressed pruning these vines that I've been watching over for seven years knowing that I won't be able to bring them to harvest, suspecting that whoever buys our house might even decide to rip them out and plant ornamentals.

But as I finished pruning this weekend, I looked back and realized that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. I took a few risks, being more aggressive in trunk retraining, saving fewer spare buds knowing that whoever takes over the vineyard will not likely know enough to do any shoot thinning. When I was finished, the vines were tidy, the buds on the verge of swelling, the whole vineyard ready for what may very well be the most exciting time in the vineyard.

There is a Zen quality to pruning. You get in a zone and things become automatic. So instead of feeling disappointment over the fact that this was my last time pruning the vineyard, I instead experienced a sort of reprieve from the anxieties of wrapping up one job, starting another, packing up a house and moving a family 2,000 miles toward an uncharted future.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Final pruning

Date: Sun, Apr 20, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

I thought it would be demoralizing, pruning the vines of my test vineyard for the very last time. Pruning is an exciting time because, through the principles of spare parts viticulture, you can correct problems and redesign each vine with an eye on making it better this season and beyond. You can replace trunks, improve shoot distribution, train new cordons, eliminate long spurs. On every single vine you can strive for that elusive goal: perfection. Sometimes you get closer, especially as your skill and knowledge improve. Often you do not. But each vine you touch is an opportunity.

This year, however, I won't be able to view the fruits of my labor. I won't be able to see what affect my pruning has had on this year's crop and next year's winter survival. Last year was a weather disaster in our region, so I was really looking forward to this year to wipe the slate clean. Signs are good...this time last year we had four-inch shoots on the traminette. We're at least three weeks delayed this year on budbreak...a good thing.

So, for all these reasons, I thought I might be a little depressed pruning these vines that I've been watching over for seven years knowing that I won't be able to bring them to harvest, suspecting that whoever buys our house might even decide to rip them out and plant ornamentals.

But as I finished pruning this weekend, I looked back and realized that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. I took a few risks, being more aggressive in trunk retraining, saving fewer spare buds knowing that whoever takes over the vineyard will not likely know enough to do any shoot thinning. When I was finished, the vines were tidy, the buds on the verge of swelling, the whole vineyard ready for what may very well be the most exciting time in the vineyard.

There is a Zen quality to pruning. You get in a zone and things become automatic. So instead of feeling disappointment over the fact that this was my last time pruning the vineyard, I instead experienced a sort of reprieve from the anxieties of wrapping up one job, starting another, packing up a house and moving a family 2,000 miles toward an uncharted future.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

The next chapter

Date: Sat, Mar 29, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

I haven't posted in over a month. Ordinarily this would not be excusable for anyone trying to retain traffic on a blog about any topic. But I've found myself subject to extenuating circumstances.

Readers of this blog, who have been increasing steadily over the past year, already know my story. I was bitten by the vine bug more than eight years ago, and after seasons of growing a backyard vineyard and working in other commercial vineyards on the weekends, I decided to buy property and plant a small commercial operation. I was due to plant this April. The site has been prepped and the vines have been ordered. I was about to become a member of the Missouri Vinifera Society, a stubborn group determined to make good wine in our challenging climate.

But life has a habit of changing plans. I happened across an opportunity for a fantastic job at Oregon State University in Corvallis. It was a position too good to turn down and now I find myself up to my elbows in bubble wrap as we pack up the house.

It kills me to halt this project when I was on the verge of taking it to the next level. I can't look at a bottle of wine without experiencing a spectrum of emotions. While this is a brilliant career opportunity for me, it is surely a setback to my grape growing plans. But it will only be a temporary setback. Many of you may have heard that Oregon also has a few vines in the ground.

And as for my vines...I've worked out a deal with someone locally who plans to get into the business. If this goes through, they'll still go in the ground soon and there will be a new vinifera grower on the charts in mid-Missouri.

In the meantime, my blog will be on hiatus while I move. After that, it may take on a definitively Oregon-centric tone. So check back in the future, and thanks for reading. Oh, and if anyone is interested in a lake house in the Columbia, Missouri area with a mature hybrid vineyard, or a twenty-one acre vineyard property with great building sites, views and also its own small lake, drop me a line!

Cheers,

Dave

Read Full Wine Blog Post

The next chapter

Date: Sat, Mar 29, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

I haven't posted in over a month. Ordinarily this would not be excusable for anyone trying to retain traffic on a blog about any topic. But I've found myself subject to extenuating circumstances.

Readers of this blog, who have been increasing steadily over the past year, already know my story. I was bitten by the vine bug more than eight years ago, and after seasons of growing a backyard vineyard and working in other commercial vineyards on the weekends, I decided to buy property and plant a small commercial operation. I was due to plant this April. The site has been prepped and the vines have been ordered. I was about to become a member of the Missouri Vinifera Society, a stubborn group determined to make good wine in our challenging climate.

But life has a habit of changing plans. I happened across an opportunity for a fantastic job at Oregon State University in Corvallis. It was a position too good to turn down and now I find myself up to my elbows in bubble wrap as we pack up the house.

It kills me to halt this project when I was on the verge of taking it to the next level. I can't look at a bottle of wine without experiencing a spectrum of emotions. While this is a brilliant career opportunity for me, it is surely a setback to my grape growing plans. But it will only be a temporary setback. Many of you may have heard that Oregon also has a few vines in the ground.

And as for my vines...I've worked out a deal with someone locally who plans to get into the business. If this goes through, they'll still go in the ground soon and there will be a new vinifera grower on the charts in mid-Missouri.

In the meantime, my blog will be on hiatus while I move. After that, it may take on a definitively Oregon-centric tone. So check back in the future, and thanks for reading. Oh, and if anyone is interested in a lake house in the Columbia, Missouri area with a mature hybrid vineyard, or a twenty-one acre vineyard property with great building sites, views and also its own small lake, drop me a line!

Cheers,

Dave

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Help choose a vineyard name

Date: Wed, Feb 27, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

Now's your chance to participate in our little vineyard project. Since starting this process last year we've come a long way. We should put our grapes in the ground in April, barring any suprises, crises or opportunities that would throw a wrench into the works.

The next question is what to name our operation. At this point I don't have any plans to start a winery. I'd like to sell the grapes to a local grower, but I would also like to establish some marketing equity in the vineyard, especially if I manage to grow the premium grade of vinifera grapes that I'm shooting for. So one way to do this is to work with a winemaker willing to put the vineyard name on the bottle. From folks I've talked with, this seems like a fairly reasonable expectation, even given the small amount (1/2 acre) I'm starting with.

I'd like readers of this blog to vote on the poll on the right-hand side of the page. Let me know if any of these options have a ring. Some are pretty obvious, but they all relate to historic, geographical or geological features of the area.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Help choose a vineyard name

Date: Wed, Feb 27, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

Now's your chance to participate in our little vineyard project. Since starting this process last year we've come a long way. We should put our grapes in the ground in April, barring any suprises, crises or opportunities that would throw a wrench into the works.

The next question is what to name our operation. At this point I don't have any plans to start a winery. I'd like to sell the grapes to a local grower, but I would also like to establish some marketing equity in the vineyard, especially if I manage to grow the premium grade of vinifera grapes that I'm shooting for. So one way to do this is to work with a winemaker willing to put the vineyard name on the bottle. From folks I've talked with, this seems like a fairly reasonable expectation, even given the small amount (1/2 acre) I'm starting with.

I'd like readers of this blog to vote on the poll on the right-hand side of the page. Let me know if any of these options have a ring. Some are pretty obvious, but they all relate to historic, geographical or geological features of the area.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

February vineyard calendar

Date: Sat, Feb 23, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

I really should have had this month's calendar up at the beginning of the month rather than the end, but there are still a few days left in February. Here's the list of tasks I hope to have finished by Friday:

1) Sharpen pruners, loppers

2) Measure pruning weights for your upcoming season's balanced pruning plan.

3) Begin pre-pruning on more cold hearty varietals

4) Trellis repairs

5) Prepare sprayer for early season sprays of soybean oil and lime sulfur in late February and early March.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

February vineyard calendar

Date: Sat, Feb 23, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

I really should have had this month's calendar up at the beginning of the month rather than the end, but there are still a few days left in February. Here's the list of tasks I hope to have finished by Friday:

1) Sharpen pruners, loppers

2) Measure pruning weights for your upcoming season's balanced pruning plan.

3) Begin pre-pruning on more cold hearty varietals

4) Trellis repairs

5) Prepare sprayer for early season sprays of soybean oil and lime sulfur in late February and early March.

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Pruning weights

Date: Sat, Feb 23, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

Now is the time of year to head into the vineyard and grab a sample of pruning weights. Larger growers will already be well into pruning. But smaller growers in our region can, and should, wait until as late as possible to prune their vines as this is a way to delay budbreak in an attempt to lessen the risk of early season frost damage to young buds and shoots. I won't be pruning in earnest until mid-March. Our early budbreak happened last year around March 30, so this is the last two weeks of the pruning season. I can afford to wait until the last minute with my small test vineyard.

Pruning weight samples can be taken before you start your serious pruning push, however. If you get this task out of the way, you won't have to worry about it slowing you down later.

You will only need to prune a small random sample of vines to get an average pruning weight. In order to take this measurement you will need only two items in addition to your pruning shears: a bungee cord and a small, hand held fishing scale.

What you need to do first to get this measurement is prune vine down as you normally would. Maybe be conservative and leave some extra buds so that you can trim the vines down later to keep it in balance with the other vines in your vineyard. It's always easy to remove buds down the road, but up to now I've heard of no way to add buds to a pruned vine.

Next, bundle up all of the trimmings from that one vine and wrap them with the bungee cord. Hang the bundle on the fish scale and note the weight. That's all there is to it.

Once you have your measurements, write them down in your permanent record. You will be able to compare your pruning weights from year to year, and from bloc to bloc of the vineyard. You can then use those pruning weights to guide your decision of how many buds to leave on each vine in the vineyard. Most extension programs and growing guides offer suggested pruning formulas that tell you how many buds to leave that season based on your pruning weight.

I recently weighted my Nortons and came up with an average of 3 lbs of cane prunings. The suggested bud count formula for Norton is 50+10. The first number in that formula refers to how many buds should be left for the first pound of prunings. The second number indicates how many buds to leave for every additional pound of prunings. So for 3 pounds, I should leave 70 buds on every Norton vine. That could be 14 5-bud spurs, or 25 2-bud spurs or any combination that arrives at a total of 70 buds. Every vine is a different creature.

You will find out if this formula works for your trellis system and vineyard site. You might need to adjust it once you see how it works for you. Maybe you'll find 70 buds is to many. Maybe you'll find that it's not enough, especially if you have wide spacing or a GDC trellis. Maybe next year you'd want to try 40+10 on Norton and see what the difference is. But at least you'll have a baseline to begin with.

Here are formulas for other varieties that I grow: Chambourcin 20+10, Vidal 15+10, Traminette 20+10, Cabernet Franc & Mourvedre 20+20.

There are a number of reasons to perform this measurement. It gives beginners an idea of where to start. It gives you a way to begin to predict the next upcoming harvest and growing season and evaluate what impact freeze events and damage have had on the health and vigor of your vine.

Here's more info on balanced pruning:

http://www.farmwest.com/index.cfm?method=pages.showPage&pageid=303


http://viticulture.hort.iastate.edu/info/pdf/prunecanopy.pdf

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Pruning weights

Date: Sat, Feb 23, 2008 Winery Blogs Wine Business

Now is the time of year to head into the vineyard and grab a sample of pruning weights. Larger growers will already be well into pruning. But smaller growers in our region can, and should, wait until as late as possible to prune their vines as this is a way to delay budbreak in an attempt to lessen the risk of early season frost damage to young buds and shoots. I won't be pruning in earnest until mid-March. Our early budbreak happened last year around March 30, so this is the last two weeks of the pruning season. I can afford to wait until the last minute with my small test vineyard.

Pruning weight samples can be taken before you start your serious pruning push, however. If you get this task out of the way, you won't have to worry about it slowing you down later.

You will only need to prune a small random sample of vines to get an average pruning weight. In order to take this measurement you will need only two items in addition to your pruning shears: a bungee cord and a small, hand held fishing scale.

What you need to do first to get this measurement is prune vine down as you normally would. Maybe be conservative and leave some extra buds so that you can trim the vines down later to keep it in balance with the other vines in your vineyard. It's always easy to remove buds down the road, but up to now I've heard of no way to add buds to a pruned vine.

Next, bundle up all of the trimmings from that one vine and wrap them with the bungee cord. Hang the bundle on the fish scale and note the weight. That's all there is to it.

Once you have your measurements, write them down in your permanent record. You will be able to compare your pruning weights from year to year, and from bloc to bloc of the vineyard. You can then use those pruning weights to guide your decision of how many buds to leave on each vine in the vineyard. Most extension programs and growing guides offer suggested pruning formulas that tell you how many buds to leave that season based on your pruning weight.

I recently weighted my Nortons and came up with an average of 3 lbs of cane prunings. The suggested bud count formula for Norton is 50+10. The first number in that formula refers to how many buds should be left for the first pound of prunings. The second number indicates how many buds to leave for every additional pound of prunings. So for 3 pounds, I should leave 70 buds on every Norton vine. That could be 14 5-bud spurs, or 25 2-bud spurs or any combination that arrives at a total of 70 buds. Every vine is a different creature.

You will find out if this formula works for your trellis system and vineyard site. You might need to adjust it once you see how it works for you. Maybe you'll find 70 buds is to many. Maybe you'll find that it's not enough, especially if you have wide spacing or a GDC trellis. Maybe next year you'd want to try 40+10 on Norton and see what the difference is. But at least you'll have a baseline to begin with.

Here are formulas for other varieties that I grow: Chambourcin 20+10, Vidal 15+10, Traminette 20+10, Cabernet Franc & Mourvedre 20+20.

There are a number of reasons to perform this measurement. It gives beginners an idea of where to start. It gives you a way to begin to predict the next upcoming harvest and growing season and evaluate what impact freeze events and damage have had on the health and vigor of your vine.

Here's more info on balanced pruning:

http://www.farmwest.com/index.cfm?method=pages.showPage&pageid=303


http://viticulture.hort.iastate.edu/info/pdf/prunecanopy.pdf

Read Full Wine Blog Post


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