Over the weekend our vineyard team was busy drilling holes with the auger implement on the tractor for our new planting. On Monday May 31, 2021, the team started planting Pinot Gris! For this planting we chose clone 457 on 3309C rootstock, which is best suited for our estate vineyard. Pinot Gris clone 457 has its origins in burgundy France and is selected for low to medium bunch and berry weights. This type of Pinot Gris presents much looser bunch architecture, which aids in managing disease pressure. This clone produces moderate yields that are more concentrated in the intensity of flavours. Also, the clone is slightly precocious (early to harvest) while producing high sugar levels, which is beneficial to the typical growing conditions of Niagara. The 3309 rootstock we chose presents low to moderate vigor to grafted vines. This particular rootstock is ideal for high density plantings and thought to ripen fruit earlier. While vines on this rootstock tend to over crop, during most growing seasons we thin back shoots in the spring to help ensure a smaller more concentrated yield, somewhere in between 2-3 tons an acre.
As the vines were planted, we also placed a steel stake next to the vine for training purposes. This ensures the vine will develop a straight trunk parallel with the stake. The next step was to install grow tubes around the newly planted vine, which can also aid in the training as well. The narrowness of the tubes makes it easier for the tendrils of the new growth to attach to the support. This eliminates the need for tying until the shoots emerge from the tops of the tubes. The final step in the planting was to provide water to the vines immediately, apply only enough water to wet the root zone, and set the vines. Since young vines have limited root systems they must be irrigated regularly. Luckily, we had good rain fall after planting, which helped reduce the number of passes made with the tractor to apply water. Our vineyards are dry farmed, meaning we do not irrigate. Typically, we get ample rainfall throughout the spring. With our lacustrine clay and silty clay soils, we have tile drainage installed throughout the vineyard to help mitigate access water in the soil. The high-water holding capacity of the clay soils ensures that the vines enjoy a constant supply of moisture during the drier weather typical for July and August.
Typically, vines can take 3-5 years to be viable for production. We aim to obtain a small crop off in 3 years from now for our first Estate grown Pinot Gris wine!