Our first blog on the new website focuses on the biggest issue facing Prince Edward County wineries, the unpredictability of climate change conditions and how it is playing out this year.
Even with fears of drought hovering unspoken in the backs of the minds of Prince Edward County grape growers, it is hard not to get prematurely excited about the prospects for the 2016 Vintage given where we are presently.
The County had two cold days on the Valentine’s weekend in February that basically killed off the buds of vitis vinifera vines and even some hybrids that were left above ground. So, as usual we have had to rely on the fruiting canes that we buried last November to produce our harvest this year.
At By Chadsey’s Cairns we took a bit of a risk, based on weather pattern predictions for the spring, and brought our vines up out of the ground about 2 weeks earlier than usual around the end of March. So everything was unburied and the majority of our vines tied up in April. There were a couple of days when the temperatures dropped a little more than was wished for but nothing really damaging took place. As a result, the buds carrying this year’s fruit were out in the air and out of the moist ground early. So the prospect of mold damage under the ground was virtually eliminated.
The number of florets (the flower clusters) was way above average in virtually every variety, with the exception of our St. Laurent. Also the size and health of the florets was exceptional. So, the prospects of a larger than normal harvest are very positive at this point. In many cases we will have to fruit thin, just to make sure that the vines aren’t carrying too many grapes.
In addition, the lack of rain and higher than normal temperatures has meant that the plants are all very far ahead of normal, sprays have been very effective and applied a little less frequently, and the plants are very healthy. I was looking at a picture of opening day at By Chadsey’s Cairns on June 21, 2003. The vine growth is less than half what we are seeing in 2016. So far, it reminds me a lot of the spectacular 2007 vintage, with rain falling every few weeks, lots of sunshine and few molds. Much can go wrong, of course, between now and the vendanges but it is hard not to be excited.
Stay tuned…for more on the impact of climate change in the County. Next blog: Bottling Day June 27