You can feel the shift in energy in Prince Edward County as the seasons change, but there’s nothing quite like the lead up to harvest. The sleepy, laid back County vibes transition into ones of excitement and anticipation as winemakers patiently wait for the right moment to quite literally gather the fruits of their labour.
The wineries in PEC are small in comparison to those you’d find in other wine regions of the world, and even compared to other wineries here in Canada — Traynor’s vineyard is around 5.5 acres. Small doesn’t mean less work, and 2020 brought its own set of challenges with COVID-19. The team at Traynor is smaller than it has been in previous years, which made it difficult to stay ahead — but they made it to harvest!
How was 2020 on the vineyard?
All challenges aside 2020 was a great year for the grapes “If you’re looking at it from the lens of a viticulturist, 2020 was the perfect year,” says Mike Traynor, vineyard owner and winemaker at Traynor Vineyard. “The summer in the County was long, hot and dry and the rain seemed to be on a timer, perfectly timed every ten days or so after mid-July.” Another big win for the team at Traynor this year was the introduction of a new organic foliar fertilizer (it goes on the leaves.) It worked so well that there was no need to spray any insecticides on the vines.
This year will definitely be an early harvest since the fruit is ahead. Typically the wineries in Prince Edward County wouldn’t start harvest until early October. In 2020 Traynor grew Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Frontenac Gris and Marquette, and will also be getting Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir from growers in Niagara.
How do you know when to harvest?
Every winemaker and grower is different, but at Traynor they monitor sugar and acid levels to ensure the fruit is developing. Some years the grapes begin to breakdown before they are ready and will rot right off the vine, which means they have to be picked before they would be deemed ready. There is one secret that Mike Traynor let us in on when it comes to the timing of harvest: “What I pay the most attention to is the taste. Sugars may rise early, but flavour just takes some sunlight and time to develop.”
All of the harvesting at Traynor is done by hand, and typically the team will pick the Frontenac Gris first followed by Sauvignon Blanc and then Chardonnay. The Frontenac Gris gets picked first because Traynor likes to macerate it on the skins while waiting for the other white grapes to ripen — this grape varietal is also know to be more delicate than others. The last grape to be picked at Traynor is the Marquette, which is a hybrid grape and needs the extra time to fully ripen.
Based off of the interests from wine drinkers this year, we asked Mike to comment on what the wine trends of 2021 are going to look like. “Consumers are going to be more interested in raw wines,” predicts Mike Traynor. “More unfiltered products, more angular wines.” Traynor is already thinking ahead with some new wines in the works, with plans to conferment a red with white fruit, a ripasso pét-nat, and a new rosé on the way — the fruit is already destined for great things.
Now the team waits. It looks like the Frontenac Gris will be harvested the last week of September, and the rest will follow in the coming weeks. Who is coming to help out?
The next vineyard update will be from harvest and we can’t wait to share a behind-the-scenes look into what makes the wines at Traynor Vineyard so special. For real time updates you can follow along at @traynorvineyard.