Friday, August 27, 2010

Last day to visit Maine Wine Pavilion at the Union Fair

If you're a Maine wine enthusiast and in the area today, take the time to head out to the Union Fair and visit the Maine Wine Pavilion in it's first year. It will be open from 2PM to 6PM today featuring free wine tastings and other giveaways.  Sponsored by Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery and the Maine Winery Guild, the Maine Wine Pavilion is located in the recently renovated Loanna Shibles 4-H Building on the Union Fairgrounds. The Pavilion project is a labor of love by Savage Oakes Winery owner Elmer Savage and his wife, Holly, who spent the last year gutting and renovating it with the help and support of their fellow Maine Winery
To find out more about the Union Fair Maine Wine Pavilion, contact Elmer Savage at (207) 785-2828. Learn more about the Maine Wine Trail or Maine Winery Guild by visiting the organization’s website http://www.mainewinetrail.com/.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Best training systems for Maine vineyards

Grape vines grow in the wild, clinging to other vegetation to support themselves and grow up high enough to expose themselves to the sun. Vineyards, on the other hand, are a man-made creation, the result of much strategy and planning to fine the best way to train, prune, and manage these wild, and sometimes unruly vines so they produce high yields and high quality vines. It is truly an art. Here's what the Midwest Grape Production Guide from Ohio State University Extension has to say:

“Pruning and training are perhaps the most important cultural management practices for grapes. A thorough understanding of the concepts of pruning severity and crop load is critical to sustained production of high-quality fruit.” 

There is no training system that works perfectly for all climates and settings, and it is often true that a variety of methods will get the job done. Still, here in Maine, there are definitely some unique factors to consider and some methods that are clearly better than others.
Vertical Shoot Positioning Training (image from rieslingrules.com)
So far, what we've found makes the most sense for Maine, is the Vertical Shoot Position training system, often referred to as VSP. This is a probably the most commonly used training system for cool climate grapes. The objective of VSP is to create a narrow layer by training shoots vertically so that there will be good sunlight and airflow in the fruiting zone of the canopy. There are a number of variations of this system, but the overall benefit is that it allows air to pass freely through the canopy. The fruit can then dry out quickly after rain and the grapes are exposed to more direct sunlight. No vegetative growth is allowed below the lowest wire.
We then run 3 sets of double strands of wire, also known as catch wires. Catch wires hold the vines and allowed them to be tucked, rather than tied, into position. 

For an excellent overview of various training systems see this presentation below: