We began harvesting Brianna on Monday, August 17. These vines produced a heavy harvest this year and more important, the flavors are outstanding. Our Brianna will be used to make a semi-sweet white wine. We only have about 0.6 acres of Brianna so we expected to harvest about 1.8 tons. We actually got 3.36 tons which is a record for this variety.
The Edelweiss is another matter. We have 17 acres and theoretically, we should get about 51 tons of Edelweiss. But, this year, the Edelweiss bloomed when it was cold and rainy and we did not get a good pollination and fruit set. We were happy to end up with nearly 35 tons and even happier with the flavors. We harvested the Edelweiss over two days: Wednesday and Thursday. We had some problems on the crush pad and had to stop harvesting early on Wednesday. That meant that Thursday was a long 13 hour day for the harvest crew but they got it all done. With rain moving in on Friday, it was just in time.
Every year at this time, people ask us if we’d like to see some rain. The answer is emphatically NO! A light rain shower probably wouldn’t do any damage but a soaking rain would have two undesirable outcomes. First, the vines take all of the water that lands on the leaves and also that taken up by the roots and moves it to the grapes. The grapes really can’t expand very fast and with enough water, they will split leaving us open to fungus and insects. You’ve probably seen the same thing happen to your tomatoes in your home garden. The second undesirable outcome is that the vineyard is soggy and it might be several days before we can get back in with our harvester and tractors without tearing it up.
Next week, we will harvest the LaCrosse on Monday. If the juice chemistries reach our targets, we will harvest St. Pepin mid-week and St. Croix starting late in the week.
Wind damage in vineyard.
By the way, our vineyard is particularly vulnerable to wind damage just prior to harvest. The vines are at their heaviest with heavy fruit and an entire season of growth. The top wire did not break in this case; however, the staples holding the wire to the posts pulled out, dropping the vines to the ground. With a lot of muscle, we lifted the wire back up into place while one person pounded staples back into the posts. In one row, the stress from the wind was so great that a 6-inch diameter end post just snapped off at the ground. The horizontal bracing post just shattered. We’ve never seen that happen before. It took the entire crew more than an hour to get the broken post out and the new ones installed.