Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Planting Regent

The Regent grape vines I ordered from Raintree Nursey finally arrived!  This vine has rootstock 3309, which is different than what I am used to using (101-14).  The biggest difference I could find was that 101-14 can handle "wet feet" better than 3309.  But considering I am planting these vines on a slope, the extra drainage provided should compensate.

The first step was to soak the vines in a bucket of water for several hours to "wake them up."  Next it was time to remove the old Chardonnay vines.  I kept one of them and transplated it to another side of the yard.  Vinefera is not known to transplant well, so we'll see if it survives.  I cut the wires from the trellis so I could more easily access and dig out the existing vines.  Next, I had to form the holes for the new vines.  Planting on a slope is a bit different from flatter areas.  It is important to make sure that water doesn't just run down the hill.  You have to provide an environment where water has a chance to sink in and reach the roots. The hole is dug straight down at an angle to the slope and is a little deeper than normal.  That way when the vine is planted, you have a sharp ledge, a flat area around the vine, and then a wall of dirt before the slope continues downhill. 

After the holes were dug, I performed a quick soil test.  The result was approximately 7.0pH.  I added some peat to the ground at each hole to increase the acidity of the soil.  Grape vines prefer pH's between 5.5 and 6.5.  Oddly enough, the row at the bottle of the slope was on the acidic side and needed lime added.  I believe the reason for this is that when they were bulldozing the ground around my house when it was built (4 1/2 years ago), they moved all the topsoil to the top of the hill.

Finally it was time to plant the vines.  Each vine was placed in a hole, spreading the roots out in all directions.  I sprinkled root maximizer around each of them.  Finally, each hole was filled with a mixture of the displaced dirt and peat.  Then each vine was watered heavily.

It will be exciting to see how this variety does in North Carolina!

Bottling Viognier

I am now the proud owner of an in-line filter for my Enolmatic vacuum bottler.  The Viognier is the first wine I bottled with it.  I used a membrane cartridge filter, which is a true sterile filter (0.2 microns).  It took a bit of time to figure out how to use it properly, but once I got it going, it worked like a champ.

The Viognier was made from a bucket of juice from California that I purchased at a local winemaking supply store.  Now it is a amazing wine that is about 13% alcohol by volume.  It has a very tropical aroma, and I can taste both pineapple and peach flavors. 

I think this wine is going to be really good in the coming months!