Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cool Climate Viticulture in Practice

On the last day of September of vintage 2007 the weather is slate, charcoal and death shroud grey but not yet raining. Today we intend to harvest a tiny bit of Merlot, the first red of the Township 7 vintage, from our own property. Some challenged third year vines that, despite nets, are big favourites with the robins and some smaller birds.

We had a deer kill in the vineyard the other night. Probably coyotes but with only half (front) of a carcass left by dawn there was considerable speculation about bears, cougars and wolves. Not every wine region has this range of fauna to contend with. I recall a conversation I had in New Zealand about the differences in our two regions and one of the Kiwis wondered, with the vast expanse of land in Canada, why we didn't have more sheep? I told them that the roaming carnivores would have a field day. He responded by asking, "Do you mean these animals are just running around loose?".

But I digress . . .

Growing grapes for wine north of 49 degrees will always have it's obstacles to quality. Most of the time it's going to be the short growing season. This is turning into a year where the short season is going to play a little larger than it has in the past few years when we've been treated to warmer, longer growing seasons. This is the year when things like greed (too many tons per acre) are going to turn and bite you in the ass. This is a year when heads-up, intelligent grape growing is going to win out over lassiez-faire vineyard behaviour.

Good management from the start of the season will produce exceptional wines this year. If you're waiting for Merlot to ripen at 6 tons or better then you might have some difficulty.

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