We will have our full, six-person vineyard crew all working on the vines by mid-week after they get some safety and pruning training. We will start by removing the cut canes from the Marquette. The actual cutting was done by the mechanical pruner 4–5 weeks ago. Because we have nine acres of Marquette, this will take at least a week and maybe two weeks.

I met a man at a meeting I attended recently who had recently moved to the Midwest from the West Coast. He was surprised to learn that we don’t grow vinifera varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, etc. here. He looked at me in disbelief when I told him that our climate was too cold in the winter and our growing season was too short for vinifera grape varieties. I told him that Cabernet Franc is the most cold hardy red vinifera grape and that I’d planted about 60 vines as an experiment several years ago. They froze off at the ground every year but a declining number of vines would send up suckers each year that would grow up to the high wire and sprout nice leaves. They never produced any fruit because fruit only forms on second year wood. And, each year, the number of vines that did emerge after winter got smaller.

I thought about my conversation and experiment with Cabernet Franc two weeks ago when I learned that vines in Sonoma County, California had just started to bud out. Our vines won’t bud out until mid-May. Then, we harvest from mid-August to mid-September most years meaning that our growing season is 3–4 months long.

In California, most of those vines that were budding out in mid-February won’t be ready for harvest until mid-September to mid-October or 7–8 months from bud-break. The exception is grapes that will be used to make sparkling wine and those will be harvested in mid-August.