We’re not sure where the time has gone, but 2021 is already coming to an end. On top of the hustle of harvest, the team at Traynor is also busily prepping the vineyard and winery for the winter ahead. Many may think winter means things slow down in Prince Edward County as visitors slowly dwindle with the temperatures, but the truth is there is no such thing as a slow time at a growing family-owned winery. So, what has the team been up to?
One of Mike Traynor’s philosophies with the vineyard is to let it sit after the initial shock of harvest. Working the vines and picking the grapes impacts their health, so the team always makes sure to leave at least two weeks after harvest to just let the vines rest without any disruptions to reacclimatize themselves and deal with the stress of having lost all their grapes. This year it was nearing the last week of October by the time the team was able to go back into the vineyard and begin maintenance for winter.
November was all about winterizing the vineyard, while simultaneously continuing the work from harvest, including bottling, and prepping new releases, holiday sales and shipping and keeping the tasting patio open.
For the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc fields, winterizing is an extremely labour-intensive process. First the team must prune the fields, removing almost 90% of the plant you see during the growing season. They then bring down about two canes to the wires, which will provide growth in the new year. Once that is done, the vines are covered with the geotextiles to protect the vines from the harsh temperatures of Ontario winters.
Pruning can take a few days to get through alone — each plant is assessed separately to decide which canes to keep, and which should be removed to produce the healthiest plant in the growing season. Once the chosen canes have been brought down to the wire, the team rolls out the geotextile blankets, covers the vines and then pin them down. That can take another few days, but then the vines are ready to rest for the winter. This year the team was able to avoid any burying with the use of the geotextiles. Many wineries in Prince Edward County are taking this approach with their vines since it has proven to be beneficial to their overall health and the volume and quality of fruit being produced.
Hybrids like the Marquette and Frontenac Gris require far less work, since they can survive in temperatures as low as -35 °C. The team can essentially leave them as is and let them do their thing. Throughout the winter, when it isn’t too cold, the team will check in on the vines and apply the same pruning practices to them as they did to the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in the late fall. This can happen any time in the winter, as long as it happens before the buds break.
The rest of the plants on the vineyard that are key to the biodiversity found on the property are established for the most part and can survive year-round without little maintenance. When the team was planning which species to plant, they tried to find plants that naturally existed in Prince Edward County, or similar climates so that they wouldn’t add onto the already busy workload around harvest.
In addition to prepping the vines and plants for winter, the team has been hard at work over the last few years to make sure the patio and tasting room can remain open year-round — that includes heating on the patio and maintaining the firepits. The winery will be open every day besides Christmas and New Year’s Day this winter, so be sure to stop by and give the new wines a try for yourself!
It’s an amazing time to give the winery a visit and sit by the fire while enjoying some delicious wine. Check out @traynorvineyards on social for real-time updates and details about how you can visit.