Virginia Winemakers Report On Nature’s Vagrants, Mechanical Harvests, Interesting Vintage

Life amid the vines and wines of Old Dominion can be an interesting one, according to the fall edition of the Virginia Vineyard Association’s quarterly newsletter, Grape Press.


Reports from the north, central and southern portions of the state detail prevention measures, vineyard management techniques and prognostications about the quality of the 2014 vintage.


Willowcroft Farm Vineyards’ Dean Triplett submitted a report about the variety of methods his winery has used to protect his its grapes from birds, raccoons and deer. 


Bird netting is on the rise in vineyards, he said, but winemakers say the winged opportunists have found ways to nibble on grapes despite the protective measures. 


“We have, however, seen a problem with netting that touches up directly against clusters,” Triplett wrote. “Birds latch onto the netting where a cluster is present and proceed to peck on the individual berries they can reach.”

Triplett noted he may transition to nets fixed to trellis outriggers.


Among other measures taken to thwart the foraging of forest critters is electric raccoon netting. The netting provides a quick shock to any masked marauder who hopes to steal a midnight snack.


“We’ve had less predation than we had last year,” Triplett said. “While not meant to be permanent, the netting goes up quickly and can be moved from vineyard to vineyard quickly.”


Willowcroft also used artificial deer distress calls to ward off sly members of the cervidae family.


In southern Virginia, new machinery was the world, according to Sans Soucy Vineyards’ Paul Anctil. 

Anctil said he witnessed a harvester at work at Pinehaven Vineyards.


“This machine uses a combination of shaking and vacuum to strip the grapes from the stems, leaving bare stems minus grapes still hanging on the trellis,” he observed.


Part of the draw of using mechanical harvesters is to avoid the headaches of work crews, he said.


We all know the difficulty and frustration of finding adequate workers to bring in the harvest,” Anctil wrote. “Each year it seems to be getting more difficult and more expensive.”


Veritas Vineyard and Winery’s Bill Tonkins reported on the happenings in the central part of the state. 


Lower summer temperatures contributed to what Tonkins said could be a great vintage.


“The cool weather is preventing the acids from disappearing and the fruit is holding up well,” he wrote. “Overall, we are poised in mid-September for a rare and interesting vintage.”


Via: Snooth – Articles


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