We are now pruning ten rows of Edelweiss in Block A. These are 500 foot rows with 62 very unruly vines in each row. In addition to pruning, we are also removing suckers and tying the vines up to the trellis. Edelweiss is very vigorous and it grows bull canes that are not fruitful. The bull canes can be quite long (25 feet is not unusual) and we have to be very careful to remove them because if we just pull them out, they snap off fruitful shoots as they come out. This will be a slow and painful process.

We expect the new cuttings that we will plant this year to arrive in the next week or so. The new vines are LaCrosse that will be planted at the north end of Maple Woods vineyard.

So, what are cuttings and where do they come from? We purchase our cuttings from Northeastern Vine Supply in Vermont. Cuttings start out as 18 inch canes that are cut from growing vines in the spring. They are treated with a growth hormone and then planted in very sandy soils. The cuttings are very carefully lifted from soil in the late fall or early winter. The objective is to avoid damage to the cutting’s root system. The root system is usually a ball of roots that can be as much as 24 inches long. When we get them, we will cut off the long roots so that we have about 12–14 inches of roots on each cutting. We then treat the remaining roots with a growth hormone.

Replacing vines in an established vineyard is all hand work. One person digs the holes with a shovel and about three people plant the vines on their hands and knees. After they are planted, we water them in well with water from a tank on a Gator. Each cutting has a well-developed ball of roots about 4 inches in diameter and a cane that is about 18 inches long. The cane will become the trunk of the new vine.

If everything goes according to plan, we expect that during the first year, the new vine will grow up to the top wire or about five feet from the ground. What we can’t see is the growth of the roots which will grow dramatically from what we planted. During the second year, the vine will grow out along the top wire in both directions from the trunk. In the third year, we should get at least a small crop of fruit to harvest.

LaCrosse is made into a dry white wine, but it is also used as a component in the Red, White, & Blue® blend. With the 350 new LaCrosse vines we will plant this year, we will have enough LaCrosse grapes so that we don’t need to purchase LaCrosse from other growers.