The season is upon us! Anyone familiar with winemaking knows that this is the time of year where the very first steps are taken to create the wines you love. If you’re a little less familiar with the process we’ve gone through and listed the steps us winemakers take, starting with the pruning of the previous year’s vines and ending with your glass full. Take a look below and see how we do it!
This is the process where we remove about 95% of the vines growth from the previous year. Pruning usually begins around during the month of March here in New York but can be done any time after leaf fall. The main trunk and cordon still remain, but we cut back the shoots that grew the previous year down to two to four buds which will become this years shoots. Each shoot will produce 2 to 3 clusters of grapes. The reason we do this is to keep the vine from becoming too large and overgrown, and it also helps with fruit quality as well as to prevent disease.
This is when when the vine starts to come to life. All the buds the were left from the pruning will begin to swell which usually happens during the month of May depending on your micro-climate. It usually lasts only a few days until bud break.
This is when to bud breaks open and the shoot begins to emerge. Depending on how warm of a Spring we’re having, this will take place in a day or two.
As the shoot grows you will see the “flowers” begin to emerge (which look nothing at all like flowers). Most grapes form what we call perfect flowers, which mean they have both a pistol and a stamen (male and female parts). This means they are self pollenating. A little breeze and mother nature takes care of the rest! After this takes place grapes will begin to form from the flower. Not all grapes are self pollenating either, but they all start out green and hard as marbles. This takes place usually in early June (at Fossil Stone Vineyards).
This is the maintenance of the vine. We usually leave a few extra buds on during pruning (EX: 4 when we only need 2). We do this in preparation for a spring frost, which can causes to lose a few shoots. If we don’t get a Spring frost, then we usually have too many shoots which will require a longer period of time for the vine to ripen the clusters. This can push the process later into the season when we may have a fall frost, so we simply cut off the extra shoots. Combing is just a time consuming process where we untangle the vine so it gets more sun and the vine can keep dry. We do this throughout the growing season as it’s very time consuming.
This is a pretty word that is used to describe the process in which the vine begins to drop sugar into the clusters of grapes. Red grapes begin to get their color which is typically what we spot first. It’s much harder to see this in the white grapes. Veraisia usually lasts for about 7 to 10 days (at Fossil Stone Vineyards). The grapes will then begin to soften and come into their full color (around late July and early August).
All our hard work leads to this! In the Northeast, during the Months of September and October we pay close attention to what we call brix levels. This is just a fancy term for sugar levels. We measure it in percentage and use a special tool called a refractometer to do this. Each variety is different. For our Fossil Stone Marquette (red) we like to get the brix to 25 degrees which is pretty high. This means we let them hang longer than the whites (LaCrescent).