Pruning Concords

Pruning is underway in the vineyards.  The purpose of pruning is to cut away portions of the vine to promote healthy fruit, stop overcropping, and prevent the vineyard from becoming a jungle.  The Niagara patch is finished and we are currently pruning Concords at the Long Shot Farm.


Concord grapes are a North American variety which are used for jams, juice, table grapes, and wine! They are featured in the Concord, Pink Quiver, and Trophy Rack wines and the Concord Slushy.

All of the grape wines at the Long Shot farm are Estate Bottled.  This means that the grapes are farmed, fermented, bottled, and aged on site.  This allows us to have control over every aspect of the wine, from the vineyard to the bottle.

Bird Netting Cleanup

Every major event is a marathon, particularly for those who have to get it together. Take Thanksgiving. The weeks before, you agonize over the menu, because some people think pumpkin pie tastes better with sweet potatoes, and others say that that is an abomination. Days before you hunt through the grocery and markets, to get all the ingredients necessary for the turkey dinner, the dressing, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the green beans, and yes, the pumpkin pie. Then for the 48 hours leading up to the great meal itself, it is nothing but cook and clean, cook and clean, cook and clean for the crew of friends and family, half of whom will love your heterodox pumpkin pie, half will think it blasphemy, and half will not know the difference. And at the end of the meal, everyone clears out but you, and you realize that there is one last cleaning to do. But you are tired and exhausted, and perhaps can be forgiven if things sit till the evening. Meanwhile, you will have another bite of that pumpkin pie.

So to it is with the harvest for the grapes. Since last winter, you have trimmed, dug new rows, planted new vines, fertilized, run irragation, mowed, bottled the old stock, put up the bird netting, harvested the grapes, crushed, juiced, and fermented. So perhaps you can be forgiven if at the end, you let the bird netting lay in the field, though the grapes are gone, the leaves have fallen, and the days are now short. Perhaps it is a bit untidy looking. Yet now, perhaps just one more glass of wine.

But of course it must be picked up. The next cycle is coming soon enough. The trimming must start once more. So as on Thanksgiving, you push yourself from the table, wondering where all the well-fed yet critical guests went, plodding to the kitchen to make things right. For no-one else will. With another glass of wine, of course.

Pruning the Niagara Patch

This month we are pruning in the vineyard.  The purpose of pruning is to cut away portions of the vine to promote healthy fruit, stop overcropping, and prevent the vineyard from becoming a jungle.  We are currently pruning the Niagara patch at the Long Shot Farm.  Niagara grapes are a North American variety which are used for jams, juice, table grapes, and wine! They are featured in the Niagara wine and in the Niagara wine slushy.

An extremely fruit-fragrant wine, Niagara is a luscious waterfall, overwhelmingly powerful.  So pack your barrel tight, as when you plunge ahead, you will find the wine exhibits a strong floral quality, of elderflower and perhaps jasmine, with a moderately acidic lemon citrus finish to balance out the palate.

We are spur pruning the Niagara patch. The vines are trained to have a pair of long canes trained along the trellis in opposite directions.  These create permanent cordons.  Last year’s canes that have grown along the cordons are cut back to a small shoot containing only a few buds.  This region is known as a spur.

These are the before and after pictures.   In the spring, new growth will sprout from the buds on the spur and produce the harvest.

Botrytis Bunch Rot

In the vineyard, we are always subject to the whims of mother nature.  It is true, that we can sometimes outwit her, by irrigating when it doesn’t rain, or covering the vines with netting to deter the birds.  But there are times that we must accept her dominance over us with grace.

This fall was particularly wet.  As as a result, botrytis bunch rot has settled into the Traminette and Vidal grapes.  Botrytis rot can affect the grape in two ways.  The first, which is the result of wet conditions, results in the loss of grapes.  The second, called “noble rot,” occurs when dry conditions are followed by wet.  This actually can produce distinctive sweet wines.  The fungus removes water from the grapes and concentrates the sugars, acids, and minerals.  Noble rot has settled into some of our vineyards.

But it is like a double edged sword.  While it can impart desirable qualities to the wine, it does so at the cost of a depleted harvest.  So while we are excited that the Traminette and Vidal wines this year may be exceptional, the vintages will be somewhat limited.  But don’t worry, other grape varieties, like Chambourcin, have done really well, and we anticipate having a good harvest overall.

Bird Netting

It’s time to protect the vineyard from birds as summer winds down and the grapes begin to ripen.  A flock of birds landing in an unprotected vineyard at the wrong time can be devastating, with tons of grapes being eaten.   We prevent this by encasing each row of grapes in a large net.  The rolls of netting are around half a mile long and it can quickly become a tangled mess.

Oddly enough, while it is possible to buy the netting on the East coast from orchard supply places, no one sells a machine or device to make applying the netting easier.  You can buy such devices in California, but the shipping is steep.  So this year Jeff, Zach, and Lars designed and welded the Netting Application Dispersal System, what we have been affectionately calling NADS (Netter Getter was already taken!).

The netting boom is built from two pipes, one which fits inside the other, so that the arm can swing from side to side.   Lars welded the boom and attached 2 cork screw shapes to capture the netting and guide it out to the row.  The entire apparatus tilts forward and backward 30 degrees, to aid in applying the netting but also picking it back up at the end of the season.  Pins in the boom hold its position steady while the tractor drives up and down the row.

The netting boom exceeded everyones expectations.  It rides on the back of the tractor with the large rolls of netting underneath.  The netting flows gently out the arm and is easily spread over the rows.  Applying the bird netting has never been easier thanks to NADS!