Journal | November 15, 2016
Pulling Out Vineyards
“There is a fine line between genius and insanity”
We’re pulling out. But don’t worry. Although I’ve always been intrigued by Nova Scotia viticulture, I’m not moving to Canada. We’re pulling out vines. Quite a lot of vines. These are vines adjacent to the winery, so the now empty fields are the source of two questions: What varieties are you removing and what are you replacing them with? The answer is Cabernet Sauvignon. Removing old vines (20 to 30 years) in their prime, only to replace them with the same variety of baby vines which will take years to produce and perhaps decades to reach their full quality potential admittedly does seem just a bit insane.
I feel compelled to explain.
These vines started their lives in 1988 as Chardonnay. They were planted on a new trellising system called Lyre. The rows were oriented East/West. I made the best decisions I could, given the information and knowledge available.
I’ve learned a lot since then. The soils are some of the best Cabernet soils on the farm. In 2003 we grafted over the Chardonnay to Cabernet, but this was only marginally successful. Many grafts did not take, so new Cabernet vines had to be planted resulting in a vineyard block with different aged vines that ripened at different times. We’ve also learned that East/West row orientation is an inefficient solar receptor. While this may be fine for earlier ripening white varieties, it puts late ripening Cabernet at a disadvantage.
Most importantly, the wine quality was never good enough to make it into Hardscrabble Red. It was a C- planting on an A+ site. Out they go. So after a year of soil preparation we will replant this potentially great site in 2018. By 2020 the vines will produce their first small crop. In 2022 or 2023 we will have the wine in the bottle and ready to release. Mark your calendars.