Chuck's Monthly Minutes (September '18)

Vintner’s Blog;

2018, the Hail Mary Season

It is September 9, 2018, usually we are harvesting by now. Today, I am taking a break from the preparations, writing this blog. We are in the middle of an extratropical rainfall of three-day duration, possibly over 4 inches, after the wettest summer on record. This is not what we want to see in a vineyard.

Wet seasons bring numerous problems to vineyards, like Downy Mildew on the leaves slowing ripening, Gray Mold on the fruit reducing our harvest. We have had tractors stuck in the mud, repeated spraying multiple times a week now, and either stifling heat or tropical downpours for our workers. If you want to grow wine grapes in the Mid-Atlantic, you need to be able to handle one disaster after another in a season like this. We still have grapes on the vines and leaves on the shoots. And that gives us some hope. If the weather breaks the vines should be able to provide us with fruit for this vintage.

The changes in the vineyard that help us get through this kind of season include; removing fruit clusters with rot, pulling leaves around the clusters to improve air flow, increased spraying with different target zones and pests, and much more labor in the field. Tomorrow we will be back in the field doing everything we can and hoping for dry weather not tropical storms. The motto for this year is “drop, spray and pray”. I say a Hail May every time I pass Mary’s corner of the vineyard.

Chuck's Monthly Minutes (August '18)

The Mid-Atlantic Monsoon

After a beautiful first three weeks of July, we were treated to a remarkable atmospheric river of moisture. The tropical air blew in from the south starting Saturday afternoon and steady rain fell for five straight days. We measured over an inch of rain at the vineyard each day for a total of 7.5 inches. On top of the hill our vines and soils can handle that much water, but the constant wetness is an open invitation to molds and mildew. We did everything we could before and after the rain to keep the canopy healthy. The color change, veraison, will start next week and that is the beginning of the ripening season. All varieties look in good shape. Wine grape growers worry about many weather events. We will have to add flooding monsoon summer rains to that list. I won’t mention the other weather disasters for good luck.

Chuck's Monthly Minutes (June'18)

The vineyard woke from its winter slumber and is back to green and growing! We finished shoot thinning and managing the vineyard floor to get ready for the season. The shoots are growing rapidly, already over a foot tall, and there are small clusters of grapes emerging.

Now that the vines are in their growing season, weather becomes critical! We hope for large amounts of sun, with just a little bit of rain, and temperatures that aren't too hot or humid. However, summer weather in central Pennsylvania doesn't always cooperate with us! Look for lots of flowering and fruit this month as the summer pruduces rapid growth. 

If you have any questions or comments for Chuck, leave them below and he will try to answer them in next months Minute. He loves the interaction despite being away from the day-to-day at Fero, and his monthly Minutes give him the chance to talk about his passion for growing premium grapes in the center of the state!

Chuck's Monthly Minutes (February'18)

The vines are dormant in anticipation of the 2018 season.  It has been a typical winter with our low temperature of -2 degrees one morning.  We should complete winter pruning sometime in March.  This will be the ninth winter for these vines and they have adjusted well to our climate.   

In the winery we are doing our big bottling run this month and are excited to say we have some new additions and more old favorites that seem to sell out every year.  The Dry Rosé was critically acclaimed last year, and I think this vintage is even better.  The Saperavi is back after 16 months of ageing.  In addition to our dry wines we have plenty of wines that sparkle or wines that satisfy your sweet tooth.  We have a new red wine, “Bison Roots Blue” commemorating this beautiful valley and our prestigious university.   

Look in the tasting room for the vintner’s barrel.  We will feature sale prices on some favorites each week.  You may find our best whites or Concord and Niagara or even our reds.  We are doing the finishing touches on our landscaping at our event pavilion and can’t wait for the season.