First Cuts

A note for Internet Explorer users

Grape growing throughout the world is a challenging endeavor.  Grapevines, being a perennial plant, are not replanted from year to year and this has implications for the farmer.  Annual crop rotation is a good pest management tool.  Those bugs and diseases that attack last year’s crop might not thrive as well with this year’s planting.  You keep shifting the ground beneath the critters and they don’t  go forth so easily and multiply.

Pest management is one challenge to growing perennial grapevines; the weather, specifically the winter (which we in the Finger Lakes have in spades), is another.  Grapevines have to ride out the winter as best they can.  Generally the varieties planted can withstand fairly harsh winter conditions, but each variety has a different level of cold tolerance.  While it is hard to kill a grapevine, it is easy to make them unproductive.  Cold weather, specifically sub-zero weather, can damage grape buds, and the shoots, leaves and most importantly the fruit emerge from these buds.

One of the tasks we perform in the winter is pruning.  Most of the growth from the previous year is pruned away, leaving (hopefully) fruitful buds that produce a crop that is small enough to ripen for high quality wine and large enough to be economically viable. Before we prune though, we assess the vineyard for winter injury, specifically we test bud mortality. (more…)

Written by Tom Prejean in: Wine and Grape growing |

A beginning

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

Ernest Hemingway

Well, I now have this to look forward to.

If you face east out into the darkness, this fall morning shows your tired eyes, little of the landscape. The birds, beginning to sing, are perched somewhere in the space before and on either side on dark blotches of formlessness.  The sun begins to reach over the hills across the expanse and abruptly fractures into shards of orange and gold.  The wind, and there is always wind, begins to dance with shadows.

The forms of treetops are the first born, standing 60 feet tall or so and a quarter mile away. They are in a grove of trees that decades previous had humbly began as a hedgerow and is now, slowly growing back into forest.  The sun rises higher and boundaries emerge, uneven geometries that corral a length of shadow.  Slowly, outlines appear, the daubes of night fade and the sunrise glides upon a field.  Forms of posts emerge, and the glint of wire.

There is movement now, a dance of wind and golden green.  You can see the texture of bark lashed to the wire.  The birdsong, which had been growing louder, suddenly is overwhelmed by the clatter of a diesel engine.  Looking back you see grapes, golden and translucent mostly, but not all.  This vineyard isn’t quite ready to pick.  Seneca is visible before you, textured with whitecaps on dark blue cobalt.  The lake is why this vineyard is here.

The harvester is warm and you are ready to follow it down the lengths of rows past vines and grapes and under overhanging canes.  The leaves on the vines sway in the sun and as the day progresses and warms, they begin to gather light.

Wine is about geography.  It is about earth, water and toil.  It is about people, history and commerce and it is about light.  Hopefully, this blog will shed some. Though, the word ‘shed’ implies that is there is light already present and I can’t make that presumption.  Perhaps I’ll reveal and sometimes, though hopefully not often, distort.  At the very least I’ll chronicle what life is like at our winery.

It is winter and things are quieting down.  Not much to report, so you’re stuck with my philosophizing.

Poor you.

Written by Tom Prejean in: Uncategorized,Wine and Grape growing |

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