We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Our first harvest. While there is really not a huge amount of grapes this year we are excited to have made it this far and have something, anything, to show for it. After fighting mother nature, deer, and bugs we’ve reached a finish line of sorts. One of hopefully many better to come.
First up for us was harvesting the Zweigelt after taking down all the bird netting. The Zweigelt vines are on the outside (East) row of the vineyard and as such have taken the brunt of the bugs (Rose Chaffers & Japenese Beetles) so it was nice to see that at least a few of them were still strong enough to produce some clusters for us.
Clusters size for this variety are huge and something that we will need to manage in future years so as not to overcrop the vines.
Much like many of our other varieties there were plenty of vines without clusters (many because of our choosing to drop clusters) but we ended up with a decent harvest and should be able to make a single variety test wine.
While Pinot Noir is notoriously hard to grow our fruit looked amazingly clean and we had brix levels over 21. In the end we ended up with the most fruit coming from the Pinot Noir vines.
This is probably the most exciting red grape we are growing. The vines have come a long way in the past three years. The first year after planting the vines looked weak (and a few died) but they have rallied over the past couple of years and it will be great to see what sort of potential Blaufränkisch holds for us.
Don’t fear the umlaut
While Cab Franc and Pinot Noir get most of the attention for high quality reds in Michigan, we believe that Blaufränkisch can be the best red variety for this state. There are clearly others that are having success with it. Left Foot Charley makes a very nice version that we’ve had and Shady Lane also has had success with the variety.
Lucky for us it turns out we are getting probably the second most fruit of any single variety from Blaufränkisch. And to top things off the fruit was in pristine condition. It was rare that I needed to removed any cracked or damaged berries while picking.
We would have loved to leave the Cab Franc hang on the vines a few more weeks to increase the brix (currently at 17.5) but this will be my last trip back to Michigan this fall so they needed to be picked now.
Not exactly sure what we are going to do with this one. It might turn into a rose or we might try to make some sparkling wine out of it.
Much the same story as Cab Franc, the Riesling could use some more time on the vine but this year it won’t get it. Lucky for us the brix was north of 21 when we picked so we will be fermenting a stand alone couple of gallons of Riesling this fall.
Since many of our white varieties were fairly scarce we decided that a field blend was in order. Small amounts of Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Chardonnay were picked and the plan is to co-ferment them during the winemaking.
As we’ve stated many times we could have never got to this point with the help of friends and family. Lucky for me my friends Shelli and John came out to remove nets and get everything picked in short order. This trip needed to be a quick one and I’m lucky to have friends help me out.
Also a big thanks to John at Jomagrha for letting me use his crusher/destemmer before heading out of town.
In a year, at our next harvest, it will be nice to tell people this isn’t our first rodeo. That was way back in 2013…