Observations from the vineyard this season

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askins3097

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Some observations from my vineyard this year, located in Southwest, Pennsylvania at the base of the Laurel Highlands:

-Niagara- does not do well with the humidity and we’re having another record rainfall year in Pennsylvania. For as much work as I’m putting into spraying and preventing mildew, I could have just planted a vinifera like Riesling or Cabernet Franc. I will be making a tough decision after this season about whether to rip this row out or not.

-Frontenac - good grower. Disease resistant. The beetles do not bother it too much. It does not like the heat. The one week we were in the high 80’s for 5 straight days, they had almost no visible growth. Since it went back to normal summer conditions, they’re growing really well.

-maracel foch- bulletproof. Doesn’t seem to matter if it’s rain, sun, 90 degrees, 60 degrees, they’re growing like crazy. No signs of disease. The only challenge is keeping up with the growth and beetles. I’m assuming the grape quality is not very good, or this variety would be a lot more popular for as easy as it is to grow. Time will tell. I have 3 rows that will be in their third season next year, so I should get a small, partial crop to sample.

-Sabrevois - slow grower. Doesn’t like the heat either. The beetles don’t bother it but it does seem susceptible to some kind of mites. Otherwise no problems.

It definitely has been a learning experience. Maybe this info will help someone in my area that is considering planting a vineyard. There’s not a lot of info out there for Southwest Pennsylvania and the handful of local winery vineyards don’t seem too eager to share information, in my experience. Most of the available information is about Concord grapes, or Erie and the eastern parts of the state.
 
We live on the west side of Wisconsin and have ~450 sabrevois vines and they are pretty JB and mildew resistant. My vines are prolific growers and I have to hedge twice a season or would have a veritable jungle.
 
We live on the west side of Wisconsin and have ~450 sabrevois vines and they are pretty JB and mildew resistant. My vines are prolific growers and I have to hedge twice a season or would have a veritable jungle.

Since I posted this my Sabrevois have taken off. I think the excessively hot, humid, 90+ weather we had early in the summer stunted their growth initially.

Mine are also beetle and mildew resistant. Low maintenance for the most. What is the quality of grapes like? Mine are only on their second season...
 
There is quite bit of Chambourcin, Marechal Foch, Leon Millot that was planted ~25-30 years ago down south of me in Albuquerque. As far as I can tell, they can't give it away. They produce a boatload of grapes but the wine made from them nobody seems to want it. They really should rip it out and start over with some of the new hybrids developed in the last 10-15 years. Day and night better wines. Heck Gruet winery (very well known for their sparkling wines across the US) has contracted with one of the local pueblo's to grow Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier just on the north side of town. Its growing like crazy for them. Bottom line is just because you planted something if its not doing well or making a decent wine why stick with it.
 
Since I posted this my Sabrevois have taken off. I think the excessively hot, humid, 90+ weather we had early in the summer stunted their growth initially.

Mine are also beetle and mildew resistant. Low maintenance for the most. What is the quality of grapes like? Mine are only on their second season...

Depends on the year. Last year a flea beetle got the primary buds and I was down about 40% on my yield. Had whole rows of just vine and no clusters. This year looks promising. Verasion is slow but coming along. I pinched my fruit off the first 3 years. It’s hard that third year but all vines are doing great. Making wine with Sab is tricky and some guys are better at it than others. I had some in a carboy for 5 years before I bottled and was pleasantly surprised with the result. Good luck.
 
Some observations from my vineyard this year, located in Southwest, Pennsylvania at the base of the Laurel Highlands:

-Niagara- does not do well with the humidity and we’re having another record rainfall year in Pennsylvania. For as much work as I’m putting into spraying and preventing mildew, I could have just planted a vinifera like Riesling or Cabernet Franc. I will be making a tough decision after this season about whether to rip this row out or not.

-Frontenac - good grower. Disease resistant. The beetles do not bother it too much. It does not like the heat. The one week we were in the high 80’s for 5 straight days, they had almost no visible growth. Since it went back to normal summer conditions, they’re growing really well.

-maracel foch- bulletproof. Doesn’t seem to matter if it’s rain, sun, 90 degrees, 60 degrees, they’re growing like crazy. No signs of disease. The only challenge is keeping up with the growth and beetles. I’m assuming the grape quality is not very good, or this variety would be a lot more popular for as easy as it is to grow. Time will tell. I have 3 rows that will be in their third season next year, so I should get a small, partial crop to sample.

-Sabrevois - slow grower. Doesn’t like the heat either. The beetles don’t bother it but it does seem susceptible to some kind of mites. Otherwise no problems.

It definitely has been a learning experience. Maybe this info will help someone in my area that is considering planting a vineyard. There’s not a lot of info out there for Southwest Pennsylvania and the handful of local winery vineyards don’t seem too eager to share information, in my experience. Most of the available information is about Concord grapes, or Erie and the eastern parts of the state.
Thank you! I was actually looking for more information on Sabrevois and Foch. The more information we share, the better the experience for everyone! We are in Massachusetts 5/6 and there is so little info locally it feels like we are reinventing the wheel...
 
> I’m assuming the grape quality is not very good, or this variety would be a lot more popular for as easy as it is to grow

It's tricky to make good wine from, the trick is to cold soak and don't allow to ferment to dryness before pressing. Old vine Foch can make excellent wine, I've heard that wine from younger vines isn't as good. There used to be a lot grown here in Ontario, but much of it was targeted in the early 90s in a vine pull scheme where it was largely replaced by Vinifera
 
I have tried Chardonel wine and liked it almost as much as Chardonnay. And it was developed in New York. Maybe worth consideration if you like whites.
Good advice. I planted Chardonel because of its disease resistance and although I'm not (or at least I thought I wasn't) a huge fan of whites, I was pleasantly surprised with it. My only dislike with it is that it is a grafted vine and I was not thrilled about burying the union in the fall. I left a few uncovered through the winter after year 2 as a test. We did get frost damage that year but it had nothing to do with the graft so I no longer cover the graft. The wine itself was better than I expected.
 
I have tried Chardonel wine and liked it almost as much as Chardonnay. And it was developed in New York. Maybe worth consideration if you like whites.
We are going to try it!
Good advice. I planted Chardonel because of its disease resistance and although I'm not (or at least I thought I wasn't) a huge fan of whites, I was pleasantly surprised with it. My only dislike with it is that it is a grafted vine and I was not thrilled about burying the union in the fall. I left a few uncovered through the winter after year 2 as a test. We did get frost damage that year but it had nothing to do with the graft so I no longer cover the graft. The wine itself was better than I expected.
Interesting. What zone are you in?
 

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