How To Grow Wine Grapes In Washington

Four Arm Kniffin System for Growing Grapes

David Handley: I'm David Handley, vegetableand small fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Today we'regoing to be talking about a simple system for pruning hardy grapes here in Maine. The pruning system I like to use is very simple.It keeps the plant open, so it gets light in the summer time, but it also protects theplant a little bit in the winter. This system works best with concord type or labrusca typegrapes, which are the grapes that tend to grow best in Maine. There's really a couple of systems that willwork well for labrusca type grapes. The first

one I want to talk about is the four arm kniffin,and that's what we're going to prune first. The four arm kniffin consists of a perennialtrunk, which goes from the ground right up to a top wire, which is set at about fivefeet. Coming off of this trunk, we will have four arms, or canes, oneyear old growth.Two on the top wire, running each side of the top wire, and two on a lower wire. Thislower wire should be set at about two and a half feet off the ground. Every year, we're going to come in and pruneit so we continue to have a perennial trunk, but only four one yearold trunks to producethe fruit.

Here is our permanent trunk. You can see here,this is a cane from last year. Two yearold cane, this was our fruiting cane last summer,and you can see the difference. Here's this year's cane, that nice chocolate brown colorand smooth bark, and here we go with the older cane, the two yearold cane. The bark is startingto peel, and has more of a gray look to it, so we know that this particular shoot isn'tgoing to fruit again. It's the one yearold shoots that come off it that will fruit. This is going to get pruned out, so that wecan keep our fruiting wood closer to the trunk. We'll just take that back to a good fruitingshoot, and we'll start to cut it out. This

is where it gets fun. We need to wrestle thisout of the trellis, and of course, all these little tendrils have tied it up and aroundmost of the growth that's there. It takes a little bit of cutting, but be careful notto break the fruiting canes that you want to leave behind. Pull it off, and that will open the plantingup so we can see what we have left for good fruiting wood for this year. We've taken offthe four fruiting canes that we left last year, and you can see pretty much all that'sleft, at this point, is the green shoots from last year, that will provide us with goodfruit for this year.

Now we need to choose which four we want toput up. We're going to have four canes. One, two, three, four. Two for the lower wire,two for the upper wire, each heading off in different directions. What I want to look for in this case is canethat's got this nice chocolate brown color, and is about 38 of an inch in diameter. Aboutthe width of your little finger. If it's thinner than that, if it's very weak, it won't producegood fruit. Thin stuff like this, less than 38 of an inch in diameter, we'll just cutthat right out. Here we've got one that's going to go in thisdirection, that looks very nice. I'm going

to count, remember we want about 10 buds onit, so we'll count our buds. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. ThenI just cut out beyond that, because the weaker stuff at the very end isn't going to producevery good fruit. I have my four arms, but you can see I stillhave some leftover canes. What I'm going to use these for are what we call quot;renewal spurs.quot;I'm going to cut these back so that they just have one or two buds on them. What I'm goingto use these buds for, the green shoots that will emerge from these buds and grow out,will be the canes that I'll be putting on the wire next year for fruiting. We call thesequot;renewal spurs.quot;

Northstar Winery winemaker discuss Washington wine grapes from various Washington estates

2011, harvest! It's a Friday at AnnemarieVineyard. it's getting really close to being ripe so Iquot;m out tasting. And this what I'lldo at all at our vineyards we source from. Ready to go! Let the games begin! This isa very special place because we source the fruit from all over the state. The best thebest of the estate and vineyards and they all bring their own personalities and allbring something different to the table add something different to the wine, that we enjoy. These are building blocks, theses are different components from these different AVA's. From Horse Heaven to Walla Walla to Red Mountain. Each vineyard is so different. There's manyvarietals that do really well in Washington

State. I believe that Merlot does the best based on the climatethat we have and the free draining soils. There's nice warm days kinda like a desertbut then it'll cool off at night. The fruit stops ripening and locks in its acidity whichis key to grape growing regions. I do believe this one the best growing regions in the world.We work with some spectacular growers that are trying to make the best fruit in the world. We focus on Merlot. Merlot does very well in this state. It has to be minimum the seventyfivepercent Merlot. It varies from vintage to vintage with seventy five percent up to ninetyfivepercent Merlot. this is one of my favorite vineyards. The fruit definitely expressesits very dense and lots structure. Lots of

fruit. In Hore Heaven AVA is Mike Andrewsso it's a lot of Sun there it's a very warm side intense barries clusters unique flavorcomponent coming site black fruit characteristics like blackberry black cherry. This is silkyand soft. there ia lot more silk quality in the Walla Walla Valley There is this earthyquality to it herbal characteristics that come from this area So this Cabernet fromAnnamarie is very fruity its gonna have lots and cherry and raspberry and it's gonna be verybright, fresh and crisp. What i'm looking for here Northstar when we are making wineis layers of flavors I don't want one component of wine standing out more than other. whenyou taste the wine, I want the fruit up front

maybe some spice and some chocolate comingfrom the oak and then I want a mid palette that's nice and full and then I want a niceand long finish. And i just like balance. This smells delicious. I wish you could tastethis at home!.

Growing Grapes for Wine

The way that Remember when we were standing out in the vineyard, we were looking at all these clusters and we were saying quot;this is too much fruit we're going to have to thin thisquot;é The person who created the system for figuring out how much that fruit was going to weigh when it was harvested long enough in advance, i.e. now,

so that we could do something about it to get the crop right, was Steve Price in the Hort department at OSU in the 80s who came up with this simple system that is used all around the world now to predict crop level. Well the system is You'd think that somebody would have

figured this out in advance of 1980s Corvallis, but nobody had. You basically wait until the sort of one to two week window when the grapevine shifts gears. It's been sort of building the cluster weight and growing all at the same time, so that the

are still growing and the clusters, the berries, the individual berries, are still getting bigger. And they'll continue to do that until sometime in late July basically, maybe early August. But then there's this window where the vine kind of changes what it's about to do, because from then on it's going to be all about

making sugar and growing the grape size. But for the two weeks, sometimes only a week and a half, the grapes don't change weight. It's a lag growth phase. And if you weigh the grapes at that point, and do a good job of estimating how many grapes are out there

and you double it, you basically know what the weight of that block that you just estimated. Obviously it depends on grape estimation skill and it depends on, to some extent, on the year because not every year does it double. There was a year a couple years ago where it didn't really double.

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