We started the week pruning St. Croix and Frontenac at Newport Lane Vineyard, and we’ll continue by mechanically pruning Maple Woods and Newport Lane. The vineyard crew will spray sulfur on vines that have not yet been treated. While we had some rain days in March, we had more days during which we made good progress with the pruning.

Our Steuben vines produce grapes we use to make a very popular wine. Unfortunately, this variety is not very winter hardy in Iowa and we’ve lost Steuben vines every year. To make matters worse, our supplier of rooted cuttings can no longer source Steuben and we can’t find another supplier. So, we elected to harvest some cuttings and try to grow our own Steuben rooted cuttings. In January, we planted about 100 cuttings in nursery plugs and have been growing them on a heat pad under an infrared lamp.

We are achieving mixed results and it looks like we should get at least 50 viable plants in time for planting in late May. Every additional vine will help. We can use about 1,000 new vines so our efforts this year are just the beginning. Keep in mind that the new vines will not produce grapes until their third year.

The weather has certainly gotten warmer. 70°F days are just around the corner and with them, the ground is warming up. Sap is rising in the vines and buds are swelling. From a weather perspective, we are reaching a critical time of year. A cold snap in which the temperature reaches 28°F for four hours will freeze the primary buds, severely reducing our potential harvest.  So, we’re keeping our fingers crossed.