Browsing CategoryNorth Country

Playing Some La Crosse

La Crosse with healthy flowers after a very cold winter.

La Crosse is a grape from the cold climate quiver that is a pet favorite of mine. Having worked with it in the Cornell trial vineyard and in and the home winery for a few vintages, I’m intrigued by what smells and tastes like potential. It’s yet another of the Elmer Swenson-propagated diaspora of hybrid vines which offer options and hope to winemakers who grow and press  in places that are USDA Zone 5 and below. A complex hybrid offspring of Seyval Blanc, and named for the Wisconsin city on the Mississippi,  it offers some improvements upon its parent, and…

Winter Vine Damage Low Down

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Word from the North Country has been relatively good as regards vine damage, based on early random bud samples and their reported survival rates after the deep cold that was delivered this winter. Once we get out into the vineyard to do the pruning, and we visit every vine, that’s when you get a true picture of what is going on. In this particular case, the visual I got was a real shocker. The buds may have held up,  but while working a couple of Lake Champlain Valley vineyards in NY and VT, we found some pretty significant trunk damage.…

Winter Vine Survival & Spring Wine Festival

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The last snow piles are finally melted after a long winter in the North Country, and while the the season may have been oppressive, those intrepid enough to dwell in it are rebounding with a vigor of surprising quality. This exuberance was evident at the Saratoga City Center this past Saturday when nearly a thousand visitors poured into the inaugural Taste of Upstate event to explore what the region has to offer. In a similar vein, good reports have been pouring in regarding the fortitude of the cold-climate fruits planted in these areas, and of how well they’ve handled a…

Northern Grape Project Webinar Series

Photo courtesy of northcountrypublicradio.org

Viticulture and winemaking are not static fields of knowledge. They are continually expanding in scope, breadth and depth. It can take a lot of effort for professionals, hobbyists and curious consumers to educate themselves in the many facets of these studies, and stay abreast of new developments. A webinar series sponsored by the Northern Grapes Project is making it a lot easier for folks to stay in the game without having to leave the farm or winery to do it. I’ve attended a number of these webinars over the last couple of years and have found them very valuable in…

Frontenac: Mutant Vintage

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It was very tempting to approach this subject indirectly through a wine science fiction sort of allegory. The tale of a race decimated by plague and forced to breed with other relative species in order to survive. The social stigmas faced by the viable offspring:  the challenges of relocation and settling of new lands,  the strange and divergent characteristics that began to appear in subsequent generations. It’snot far off, as a version of the inter-specific hybrid grapevine story, and of the unexpected mutants that currently exist among us, in the form of the cold climate grape called Frontenac. The Frontenac grape…

Adirondack Coast Wine, Cider & Food Festival – 2013 Vintage

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Harvest is upon us, and while the North Country vineyards and wineries prepare for the rigors of the season, they are also getting ready for a celebration once most of the field and winery work is done.  On Saturday October 12th from 1PM to 8PM the Crete Civic Center in Plattsburgh, NY will be hosting the second annual Adirondack Coast Wine, Cider & Food Festival which has already grown since last year, in the number of vendors and events, as well as the hours of operation. Most of the Adirondack Coast producers, as well as at least one ice cider producer…

A Toast to the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail and Others

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Reports of veraison are finally beginning to arrive from the North Country, and after such wet weather, both the sunshine and this growth stage are welcome news.  It’s not just the grapes that are growing in upstate New York though — so are the wine trails. Recent legislation makes the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail an official part of the New York State Highway map. It’s just a little trail across sixty-six miles of road, linking seven wineries and cider houses, but it is a major development milestone for a new region that adds to the diversity of wine growing in the Empire State.…

Will Changes in the Cornell Cooperative Extension Program Leave Some Out in the Cold?

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Questions about the pace of global climate change and its effect on viticulture have been frequent topics of conversations in vineyards and wineries around New York. A less talked about, and even less understood change also taking place with another force that has significance to the industry.  The Cornell Cooperative Extension is on a path of reorganization, that while still in the definition phases, might ultimately change the way that folks in the field interface with its services. The Cooperative Extension service of the USDA has for nearly 150 years followed a mission to “help people use research-based knowledge to improve…

Cape Winery Sprouts in the Thousand Islands

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The official opening of the Cape Winery in Cape Vincent, NY is not until Memorial Day, but a recent springtime Saturday “soft opening” saw over a hundred people in the tasting room, more than a dozen cases of wine leave the premises in the hands of happy consumers, and folks joining the infant “case club.” The current version of the New York State Wine Regions map shows expanded areas all around the state, and this latest opening already asks for those boundaries to be expanded even more. Situated on a spit of limestone-based land that has Lake Superior on one…

Marquette Making its Mark in North Country Wine

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The prospect of growing and making red wine in cool climates meets with some well-known challenges — reaching adequate ripening levels, controlling acidity, getting good color extraction, as well as surviving disease and predators. Until just a few years ago, it might have been considered madness to conceive of, let alone attempt to pursue, the table red in places where the winter snow can get as deep as the high trellis wire, or where there can be bare ground on days with temperatures so cold that cars and equipment won’t start until the morning sun has been on them for…