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GalleonsLap

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Hey winemaking forum! I've got a 1 acre vineyard in northeastern Missouri. I'm unusual in that I'm growing my grapes organically and have been experimenting for years with varieties and methods to grow grapes organically. I've been doing homemade winemaking for decades but just found this forum. I'm hoping to get suggestions from grape growers and winemakers out there.

I've got several varieties I've found perform well in most seasons here in my climate and soil. We've got heavy clay soil on rolling hills and a lot of it was washed away from corn being planted for decades. Some spots had almost no soil left. So it's been a about 12 years of testing varieties and methods for our soil and climate and building the soil. The pH of the soil started out at about 4.5 and with lime, chickens, sheep, and livestock and green manures I've been able to get the vines going and bring the soil back into production. But birds and raccoons are always trying to steal whatever I grow and late frosts and disease are other factors that can really cut into the harvest. It takes a lot of work as I'm sure you all know, but I get a harvest every year and I make a few different wines.

I've got a few Concord types that I make into a semi sweet red or white wine and would like to experiment with this year for hard seltzer. I've got Frontenac Gris, Price (which is not very disease resistant but does well in our soil), Prairie Star, and some St Pepin that I make into off dry fruity to semi-sweet cold fermented white wines. And then I've got Norton, Frontenac, and Leon Millot that I make into a full bodied red wine. I used to make a Bordeaux type nouveau wine with the Frontenac but gave up on it because I was never very pleased with it and it didn't last long in the bottle. High acidity is often an issue in making good wines since I'm growing hybrids and American grapes. And since I've got many things wanting to get my grapes, I often have to harvest early to get any crop at all, meaning lower sugars than ideal, and higher acid than ideal. I'm pleased with most of my wines, but it does take about 5 years for my reds to get really good.

Seems like even though I've been growing grapes and making wine for decades, every season throws a new curve and there's always more to learn. I'm sure it's better to learn from the collective experience of a bunch of people doing the same thing and who have already made the same mistakes. Maybe I can provide some advice to others from my years of experience.

Cheers!

Dan
 

Rice_Guy

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Welcome to WMT

Organic is a good goal, if I could I would never spray mine, my opinion is that better varieties are out there waiting in the gene pool. , , , , I too experiment with the occasional seedling that looks healthy.
 

GalleonsLap

Junior
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Welcome to WMT

Organic is a good goal, if I could I would never spray mine, my opinion is that better varieties are out there waiting in the gene pool. , , , , I too experiment with the occasional seedling that looks healthy.
I always look at my Norton, which produces perfect clusters in any season we have and I know the genetics exist for organic grapes even in the high humidity of the east. But the vines take a while to get established and aren't easily propagated from cuttings. You can't win em all, I guess.
 

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