The Big Blue Debut

We're excited to announce the debut harvest using the Big Blue mechanical Braud Harvester. We began the 2017 today with the Marquette grapes as planned. Austin (driving, vineyard owner) says It's a steep learning curve to use the machine but the machine is picking at 95% and leaving VERY little MOT (material other than grapes) in the bins. This makes our customers very happy.

Estimated Harvest times announced

Austin has released our estimated harvest times for Marquette (week of September 11th) and Steuben (week of September 25th).

Unfortunately, we will likely not have any marketable Traminette this season as we had hoped. Despite spraying according to recommendations, Japanese beetles and fungus have removed Traminette leaves. Because of this, the grape clusters on the vines will not mature as they need to. This has been compounded by the fact that summer 2017 has proven to be wet and colder than normal. 

 

 

Nets on Marquettes

With the Marquette fruit ripening early, we have already put the nets on the protect them from our feathered friends. So many animals love the shade and protection of the vines and the birds are no different. Every year at springtime we find loads of bird nests hidden among the vines. But right before the harvest, nets have proven the friendliest way to keep the birds out and the grapes on the vine to fully ripen.

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Dulcius grapes (Marquette, Traminette, and Cayuga) highlighted in radio news

Take a listen!

(Excerpt from the WBOI spot) Indiana’s growing number of wineries and small vineyards want to make the Hoosier state synonymous with wine country.

Yet, a tricky climate limits what grapes they can grow in-state, and complex regulations limit where they can sell the resulting wines.

So these local wine destinations are finding other ways to make their marks.

At Two-Ee’s Winery near Huntington, the barrels and tanks in the production room are full of juice from grapes you’ve probably never heard of.

Wine-maker Eric Harris rattles them off: Tannat, Aglianico, Norton and Dolcetto bought from California, and Marquette, Traminette and Cayuga from Indiana, among others.

Early budding, early spraying... early harvest?

Viticulturists (like myself) are concerned with three levels of climatic effects on the grapes:  

  • Macroclimate (regional climate of an area in Indiana)
  • Mesoclimate (the climate of a specific site – we have several within the Dulcius acres)
  • Microclimate (the climate in and around the vine canopy)

Climate depends on a large number of factors such as sunlight, rainfall, temperature, temperature swings, etc. One part of determining our mesoclimate is collecting data which are used to calculate "Growing Degree Days," a measure of the amount of heat available to grow and mature the grapes, to bring an insect out of dormancy, or to develop a particular fungus.

Most grapes will not grow below 50°F so we don’t want to count the times that we were below 50°F and grape growth stops by 120°F. Temperature changes all through the day and that information is collected by our Crane Lake weather station. That information is sent to GRASSLinks a web-based interface to a geographic information system (GIS), which offers public access to mapped information. Our very own Crane Lake weather station (photo, below left) provides data to Oregon University where it is used to determine growing degree days. 

Dulcius 2017

6 days ahead of 2016

12 days ahead of a 30 year average

Results of this increased amount of heat are:

  • Grapes budded out earlier and were damaged by a late freeze.
  • We began spraying for fungus and phylloxera earlier.
  • Harvest may come earlier this year.

    Outlook Traminette: Great!

    Our Traminettes were later to the bud and burst stage than the Marquettes so they were less affected by that late May frost. Here you can see loads of nascent clusters on these 5-year-old vines. So far so good Traminette!

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    Facing east, the setting sun catches the detail on the Traminette leaves. 

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    Look closely- see the little Traminette clusters? In only a few months they will be ripe grapes. 

    Oh, and here's a blast from the past. Five years ago today, our vineyard had a completely different look: 

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    Baby, it's cold out there.

    Northern Indiana experienced a frosty night last week. We at Dulcius took some precautions creating giant smudge pots to create frost-fighting smoke. Scott and Austin stayed up all night feeding the fires and generally warming up the low areas of the vineyard with their positive attitudes! Some of the vines did experience frost damage, especially our early to bud and burst Marquettes (see April's post below). 

    A Dulcius giant smudge pot- aflame with pruning twigs at 3:00am.

    A Dulcius giant smudge pot- aflame with pruning twigs at 3:00am.

    Our Marquettes felt some of the frost on that early May morning. 

    Our Marquettes felt some of the frost on that early May morning. 

    Pruning complete! Spring cleaning and vine growth at Dulcius

    Spring at Dulcius is about watching wooly grape buds transform into bright green leaves and cleaning up the big mess we made by pruning. Also, Austin and Kyaw Naing have discovered a new, absolutely gorgeous, electric pink variety of Captivator grape. Austin has made several cuttings of this grape to start new plants. 

    Each one of these canes (sticks) was pruned by hand. This is only a mere fraction of what we need to clean up!

    Each one of these canes (sticks) was pruned by hand. This is only a mere fraction of what we need to clean up!

    On April 26, Marquettes were beyond wooly bud stage (E-L # 3 for all you grape nerds out there!) and had burst out 4-5 tender green leaves on each shoot (E-L # 11-12). 

    On April 26, Marquettes were beyond wooly bud stage (E-L # 3 for all you grape nerds out there!) and had burst out 4-5 tender green leaves on each shoot (E-L # 11-12). 

    A sneak peek! Behold the Pink Captivator! 

    A sneak peek! Behold the Pink Captivator! 

    Preparing for harvest... in March

    We are already thinking about harvest time before even one grape has been seen in the vineyard this year. In order for the 2017 harvest to be the best harvest yet, we have purchased a Braud mechanical harvester (that ominous blue machine in background!) and a trailer. Pictured here, Austin (Vineyard owner) gives his granddaughter Eleora a ride on the trailer using the hydraulic lift. This new equipment will afford us the opportunity to get the freshest grapes possible to wineries quickly. The harvester is capable of gathering an acre's worth of grapes in 45 minutes and the trailer has the capacity to haul 5 tons of grapes at once. We're about 6 months away, but I can almost taste the grapes now!

    It's hard to tell who is having more fun in this photo!

    It's hard to tell who is having more fun in this photo!