It’s finally that time of year when you can start to quite literally see the fruits of the team’s labour out on the vineyard — veraison is here in Prince Edward County! For those who are not familiar with this term, it is when the grapes start to change colour and you can get a better understanding of when the potential harvest will take place. You can learn more about what is happening with the grapes during veraison here.
Luckily, we have assistant winemaker, Richard, to fill us in on what is currently happening at Traynor and the outlook for the next few months.
Harvest 2021 Predictions
Earlier this summer the team thought it was going to be a really early harvest — it was dry and the temperatures remained consistently high, but then the County finally got some rain throughout the end of July and beginning of August. The team was slightly relieved since that bit of rain helped to push harvest back to a “normal schedule” and will likely be end of October and potentially into the beginning of November.
How about that humidity?
So, we might have gotten a bit of rain, but what about the humidity we’ve been experiencing all summer? How does that impact the grapes?
Richard was happy to report that Traynor has not experienced mildew issues all year, which is something you have to look out for on the vineyard when there is a lot of humidity. The team tries to take more of a preventative approach versus being reactive when it comes to farming practices, which has allowed for mildew to stay under control.
The last few weeks, however, there has been a bit of mildew, specifically on the Chardonnay, so the team has had to take a bit of action. Since the mildew appeared after veraison, it isn’t as big of an issue and won’t impact the final product of the wine.
You really don’t want to see mildew during bud and fruit drop. One of the main worries during a humid season and the threat of mildew is the health of buds and grapes for the next year, and the year after that. When you’re working on a vineyard you’re always thinking ten years ahead, especially when it comes to the health of the vines.
Is there such thing as too much sun?
According to Richard the grapes have been loving the sun! It’s exactly what the team wants to see to get the sugars to ripen and the development of phenolic compounds. These two factors both contribute to the flavour, colour and mouthfeel of the wine.
In terms of sugar concentration, just a few weeks ago, there was barely anything, now the team is seeing 19° Brix in the Marquette, and still have at least another month out on the vines. For context, 24 °Brix was the ripest the Traynor team has recorded to date.
Each grape develops at a different pace — the Marquette develops quickly earlier on and then takes awhile to complete, while the Chardonnay develops consistently throughout the season, and Pinot Noir develops quite slowly early on and then really quickly near the end of the season.
What’s the deal with leaf stripping? Is it needed?
The Traynor team is already on it and have leaf stripped in the back fields, which are the fruit zones of the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Studies have found that leaf stripping can reduce the amount of secondary characteristics on the final flavours of the wine, and helps emphasize the fruit characteristics. Richard notes this is especially true in Sauvignon Blanc, where leaf stripping helps eliminate green, woody flavours that could overpower the wine’s profile.
Richard notes that leaf stripping isn’t exactly necessary for the hybrid grapes on the property since they will ripen on their own, however it wouldn’t be a day at Traynor without some experimentation. The team has been testing leaf stripping with some of their Frontenac Gris to see how it impacts the ripening. Frontenac Gris is a relatively newer grape, so there are still studies ongoing studies in regards of the best practices for growing it.
So, all that to say the team has been busy with a never-ending list of things to consider leading up to the 2021 harvest which could be in the next month or two!
It’s an amazing time to give the winery a visit and check out the ever-changing grapes on the vines. Check out @traynorvineyards on social for real-time updates and details about how you can visit.