We got started planting about 850 new Verona and 850 new Itasca vines this week. Verona will make a red wine with very prominent raspberry notes. This new (to us) variety was developed by Tom Plocher in East-Central Minnesota. Itasca will produce a white wine which we will evaluate as a stand-alone variety or as a component in a blend. It was developed by the University of Minnesota. Both varieties will be planted in 14 rows in the southeast corner of Tassel Ridge Vineyard where St. Croix was planted before. We had more St. Croix that we can use and decided that Verona and Itasca are a better use of this portion of the vineyard.
One of our most troublesome varieties is Steuben. It makes a very popular rosé so we want to keep producing it in our vineyards. It is a Vitis labrusca grape which is native to New England and as such is not quite tolerant of our cold weather. It has other undesirable habits also. In some years, it does not stop growing in September in preparation of the coming colder weather. That leaves it exposed to serious winter damage when the first hard frost hits. In addition, it is not vigorous and we don’t usually get enough grapes to make more than 100 cases of wine. This year, we lost a large number of Steuben vines to winter weather and we will be replacing many of these vines as soon as we have planted the Verona and Itasca vines.
Finally, we will be spraying fungicide when the weather permits. And, we will develop our first harvest estimate for the season later this week.