Thursday, April 19, 2007

Last field trip for my class; we headed to the Crown Valley Champagne House in Farmington, Missouri. This is a picture of Bryan Siddle showing us the equipment they plan to use when they make their methode champenoise style of sparkling wine. Right now they use the charmat process. The Crown Valley Champagne House just opened last month, and there are some excellent pictures of the opening day event on the Missouri Wine Country website. Thank you, Bryan, and winemaker, Daniel, for an excellent tour.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Red Raspberry is a winner!

More good news streaming in from the Wine Competition world; our Red Raspberry won another Gold medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. The results are here. The Cranberry also won a bronze.

In my humble opinion, I find that wine competition results are much more accurate than the number system that one editor from one magazine puts on a wine. I could be biased because I am a wine judge, but when you have 2126 wines entered, and being drank and tasted by top wine professionals, sommeliers, winemakers, etc, that is much more reliable and note worthy than any other sort of wine rating system around. So, if you are truely interested in drinking excellent wines, look for the wine competition results- those are the ones that count.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Damage Control?

On Friday, Keith Striegler, director of The Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture and Enology came out to survey the frost damage to the vines. Keith was one of my teachers and mentors from Fresno, and now he works for us here in Missouri. He cut into some buds with a razor blade to see if they were green in the middle, to see how much bud damage we had. If a vine looked really bad, he shaved a small piece of the bark to see green to tell if the vine was even still alive. The Concord and Vignoles are not good at being fruitful on secondary or tertiary buds, so if we get any crop on them it will be a miracle. The Norton and Vidal look about the same, with about 60% damage, and the Seyval is supposed to be one of the most fruitful on secondary and tertiary buds, so he thought we would get a full crop from those vines. He said a frost of this much devastation, from Oklahoma to North Carolina, has not been documented in 118 years.

The next 6 weeks are the most critical, to see what if anything comes back and buds and sets fruit. Our hearts are heavy, our babies are sick, and we will have to be patient for their recovery. As Keith says, "this is a learning experience."

Friday, April 13, 2007


I am very pleased to tell you that our Red Raspberry wine won both the Gold and Best of Class medals at the New World International Wine Competition. What this means is that not only did it win a Gold (an award I have only won one other time) The Best of Class part means that it was the best berry wine in the competition. Yay. Go us!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Remember those healthy looking new Concord shoots I showed you last week? The story is not the same this week. Mother Nature can be cruel. As soon as you feel like you've got the whole growing grapes things figured out, you've mastered your spray schedule, you've pruned to perfection, you've picked a perfect trellis system, something comes along the next year and throws a wrench into your wheel. Is that how the saying goes? The good thing for us, one of the many reasons we grow French hybrids here in Missouri, is that fact that secondary buds are fruitful. How fruitful is the question at large. I'll keep you updated on this dramatic turn of events.

Sad, frost damaged grapevines

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Baby chives waiting for a new home; maybe yours?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Concord grapevines this morning. I was so surprised to see the amount of growth. They are much earlier than last year. I was posting a picture of a grapevine with much less growth last year on April 12th. They are calling for a frost maybe Wednesday night. Here's hoping the weatherman is wrong.

Seyval blanc grapes at bud break. Actually I consider this a little past bud break.
This is a Vidal blanc grapevine at bud break.