It was a year of challenges in the vineyard. The grapes had a hard time ripening due to the cold spring, and the lack of heat and sunlight made for grapes that were low in sugars and high in acid. Nevertheless, we harvested 500 pounds late October (after all the leaves on the vines had fallen) and pressed them with the help of Don Grassey and his small vineyard near Gills Rock, and then fermented the juice with Bob Purman of Island Orchard Cider. Bob reassures us that if the juice doesn’t make good wine, it will make great vinegar.
As we look to the future of the vineyard, we anticipate transitioning many of the vines over to Itasca, a variety of white grape that will ripen better in our climate (white grapes ripen earlier in the season than red grapes; and right now we mostly have red). Also, Itasca is very disease resistant, meaning that we will no longer need to battle downy and powdery mildew as we have to with our current varieties. Best of all, Itasca makes Chardonnay quality wine! The transition will take several years as we continue to graft Itasca on as our existing vines and as we plant Itasca plants.
A major hurdle for us right now is our lack of tractor. We are about $15,000 short of the necessary funds to purchase a tractor, and we hope to raise those funds before the beginning of the growing season 2020 so that we can start the season off with the necessary equipment.