July Vineyard Checkup
It has been a little over a month since I was in Michigan working on the vineyard. Back in June we pulled off all the grow tubes temporarily to unmound the graft union and check on vine health. All in all I was pretty happy with how things were progressing after only a few weeks.
This trip was all about finishing putting up the fruiting wires and first set of catch wires on the remaining 13 rows in addition to checking the growth progress from June.
My Dad has been making regular checks (and apparently running tours of the property for friends and family) on the vineyard so I knew nothing major had gone wrong. We were also pleasantly surprised to hear that some of the vines were out the top of the grow tubes by the 4th of July.
So last Thursday I packed up Eisa and made the drive back to Michigan to check on things myself. We were hoping to make some progress on the trellis and do some weeding to go along with our scheduled fungicide spray.
Last time I was in town we started to mount the fruiting wires on a couple of rows.
This trip we put up the fruiting wires for the remaining rows and then the first set of catch wires about midway between the top of the posts and the catch wire height. We still need to put the top catch wires on next spring (and maybe another set of catch wires). I imagine in the next couple of weeks many of the vines will reach the catch wires if the deer don’t show up in force that is.
Growth appears to be going fairly well. Chardonnay, Gruner Veltliner, and Pinot Gris especially were doing quite well.
On the edges of the vineyard there are clear signs of deer snipping the tops of the vines off when they come out of the top of the tubes. It is a little disappointing as I think the vast majority would have been out the tubes and nearing the first catch wire if it wasn’t for the deer.
Since the real deer fence will not be installed until next spring we decided to try a few things that work in my dads garden and one local grape grower recommended as well. First off we put up a few rows of fishing line up on the outside rows to hopefully dissuade the deer from walking into the vineyard. In addition to the fishing line we posted some Bounce dryer sheets. Apparently they have a smell that deer do not like and it keeps them from coming near them. Time will tell but hopefully the combination works.
The only other issue slowing down the growth on a few of the vines was some damage done by Japanese beetles. It does appear that they only attacked leaves that were above the tops of the grow tubes. Thankfully for now there were only a few beetles that we saw and leaves that were damaged by them.
While I originally thought that 4 of our vines died after planting there is now only 1 vine that is really dead. Apparently we had a couple of late bloomers…There are a couple of other “weaker” looking vines that I am not sure how they will fair over the winter months but only time will tell.