Spring cleaning has arrived at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center, and that includes sprucing up our vineyard exhibit. This is the time of the year to walk the grounds and see if any of the older vines have not survived the winter due to pests, diseases, or just plain old age. Because we did have a few vines that didn’t make it through the winter, we have taken the opportunity to add a few new grape varieties to our exhibit.
With the new additions, we’re up to 28 different grape varieties growing side by side.
It is important to get these new plants in the ground as soon as possible in order for the roots to be established during the summer. We will not expect to harvest anything for at least three years because the vines need to focus on establishing roots and a canopy, and not ripening fruit. In fact, we will remove grape clusters formed on the newly planted vines in order to have them concentrate on growing stronger.
There are several methods that help promote growth and vigor in the vines. For example, we will trim some of the roots in order to stimulate new growth as the new plants go into the ground. We also often protect the new vine planting with a milk or orange juice carton placed around the young vine. This helps keep rabbits and other animals from eating the new growth, and will act as a mini green house for the vine to develop.
Our show vineyard is also a great place to see different trellising systems. These extremely important in vineyards because grape vines tend to lack the ability to support themselves, which means a structure is needed to allow the vines to rest on and hold up the weight of heavy clusters.
Right now there are 17 different systems that are installed on our grounds. Modern trellising systems also promote even ripeness and easier accessibility to harvest when compared to the older trellising systems. Grape arbors were first trellis systems used and offered the addition of shade while you harvested. Today, winemakers and vineyard managers realize that direct sunlight on the fruit is a key to yielding quality grapes. Without direct sunlight, the grapes often lack the necessary phenols, tannins and color that are needed to produce quality wine.
Stop by and plan a visit. If you are looking to grow some vines in your backyard and want to get some ideas, any time is a great time. If you want to see the grapes in bloom, mid to late May is the ideal time. Hope to see you soon.