Grape Crushing Season Napa Valley

Umbrella Kniffin System for Growing Grapes

David Handley: I'm David Handley, with theUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension, and we're here to talk about pruning grapes.Very simple system for farnorthern production. Here in Maine, we need to protect the vinesas best we can through the winter, but at the same time try to get enough light andexposure to the canes that we're going to get good fruit set, and good fruit quality. One of the systems you can use for labruscatype or concord type grapes, which are the ones that do best here in Maine, which isthe umbrella kniffin. As opposed to the four arm kniffin, the umbrella kniffin puts allof its canes up at the top, or the first year

growth that's going to fruit. What we're talking about with cane growthhere is one yearold growth that has a chocolate brown color, and nice smooth bark with budson it. We're going to be saving four canes, plus the permanent trunk, to give us all ofour fruiting structure. Everything else is going to be coming off of here, and that includesanything that fruited last year. You can tell the two yearold canes, or thecanes that fruited last year, because they'll be thicker, and they'll have gray, peelingbark. All of these are going to come off, and we're going to save the one yearold canewith the chocolate brown color, and the smooth

bark. The first step in pruning is to look at ourpermanent trunk and remove all of the two yearold growth, the growth that fruited lastyear, saving a few canes that we'll be using for fruiting this year. Our first step isto cut some of these off, looking at that older bark there. We just cut that out, getit right out of there. This will open up the planting, and that twoyearold wood is not going to fruit. Unless we take it out, we'll find that our fruitingwood gets further and further away from the trunk. Part of the reason we're pruning isto keep that fruiting wood concentrated right

near the trunk. With the umbrella kniffin, which is what we'repruning to here, we're only going to maintain four of those fruiting canes. We want themall concentrated near the top of the trunk, or the top wire on our twowire trellis. We'regoing to take each of the canes that remain behind. As you can see here, here's my nicefruiting cane, smooth bark. All these are buds that are going to breakand give us long, green shoots that will have bunches of grapes on them. We're going todrape them over the top wire, and then we're going to attach them to the bottom wire, togive you that kind of quot;umbrellaquot; look, thus

the name of the system called the quot;umbrellakniffin.quot; Then we're going to cut off the ends of thecanes, so that there's only about 10 buds on each one. We just count those from thetrunk. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. If I need to leave one ortwo on there to make it reach the bottom wire, that's fine. I'll just go to where I can attachthis to the bottom wire, like that. I need two for the other side, to completeour umbrella. You can see this leaves me with several other fruiting canes, and I need tosave some of those as well, but they don't need to be as long. What I'm calling theseare quot;renewal spurs,quot; because we need the buds

from these shoots to come out and give uscane that we'll be able to put up on the wire next year. For every fruiting cane that I'm leaving behind,I also need to cut some renewal cane, or renewal spurs, to provide us with fruiting wood fornext year. I just cut these back to one or two buds, and if they're not where I wantthem I can cut them off completely. But for every fruiting cane, I need to leave at leastone renewal spur. I tend to leave a couple of extra renewalspurs here in Maine, because I'm very sensitive to the fact that I'm likely to get winterinjury almost every year.

Do Wine Makers Really Walk Over Grapes With Their Feet

Do Wine Makers Really Walk Over Grapes WithTheir Feet Perhaps no image is more synonymous with theact of wine making than that of a person smushing grapes with their bare feet to extract theprecious juices contained therein (in the grapes, not the inevitably sweaty feet). Butdid winemakers ever commonly do thisé The answer to this question largely dependson who you ask. Today, certain winemakers, usually ones that have some sort of a financialinterest in it, (at least publicly) maintain that grape stomping was an integral part ofwinemaking history. However, historians tend to think it was a relatively rare practise.To be clear, nobody is saying that ancient

people didn't crush grapes with their feetto extract the juices; rather, it is known that man has had a much more efficient alternativeto this method for at least 6000 years. We know this because in early 2011 archaeologistsuncovered the remnants of an archaic winery, complete with a wine press dating back to4000 BC in Armenia. Wine itself can be traced back to at least5400 BC, which would suggest that early man must have had a more rudimentary method ofcrushing grapes before someone invented a wine press; and, indeed, probably involvedthe use of feet. This is supported by the existence of numerous pieces of artwork andother references from history illustrating

people curb stomping piles of grapes whilethey stood in giant vats. Perhaps the most prominent pieces come from ancient Egypt whereit's largely believed that stomping grapes was a common part of winemaking, as evidencedby numerous pieces of artwork depicting exactly that. However it's important to note that thiswas by no means the only step in the juice extraction process. You see, treading grapesis a remarkably inefficient method of extracting juice from them, and up until very recentlyin history, humans were all about not wasting anything food related (See: A Brief Historyof French Toast). After stomping grapes, the

ancient Egyptians would then put the leftoversinto a large sack, at which point: “Poles were tied to the sack's four corners andby turning them the rest of the grape juice was squeezed out.� A thing to keep in mind is that pressing grapesis a deceptively difficult task and the amount of pressure you use to squeeze grapes mustbe closely monitored to avoid accidentally releasing bitter tannins from the seeds, whichcan, obviously, negatively affect the taste of the final product. With this in mind, pressinggrapes by using simple bodyweight seems like a good way to avoid applying too much pressure.However, it's just too inefficient to be

used on a mass scale unless you were earningEgyptian Pharaoh levels of money and had a fleet of slaves or workers to do it for you. Not surprisingly, in almost every civilisationin which wine presses were used, there appears to be little evidence that they also stompedwine; they simply didn't need to and had a much more efficient process in the winepresses. An exception to this can be found in Ancient Rome where grape stomping was commonto extract the initial juices from grapes, which they believed to have special propertiesthe rest of the juices did not. Even in this case, the Romans are still noted to have usedpresses to extract the bulk of the juices

after this stomping took place. As for why treading grapes seems to be sosynonymous with winemaking in general, despite being inefficient, unsanitary, rarely usedin history, and timeconsuming, that may have a lot to do with the winemaking industry itselfplaying up to the allure of romanticised old timey imagery. If there's one thing thewine industry is great at, it's making wine seem grandiose, when, in the end, it's justfermented fruit juice. Beyond the mystique, there's an entire industrybased around selling people vacations during which they will stomp grapes to make wine“the traditional way�, even though it's

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