Journal | August 13, 2018
Where is that Canadian Cold Front?
In the debate of which growing season has been the most challenging, 2018 is starting to edge out 2003. We can’t seem to get a long enough dry spell to slow vine growth and give us a break. So far the clusters look good, but I can’t imagine that they will be able to hold on for too much longer if this stormy weather pattern persists. Forecasts look encouraging, so at least there is something to give some otherwise depressed winegrowers a glimmer of optimism.
Jonathan and I did manage to find a couple of days to travel to Niagara, Canada. The main purpose was to look at tractors. Niagara is a very geographically small, but concentrated wine, fruit, vegetable, and apparently soon, cannabis growing region. They use lots of specialized narrow, low to the ground tractors that are uncommon in most of the rest of the world. Linden’s main vineyard tractor is showing its age (24 years old) and I needed to see a new model that could fit our needs. It is now on order.
While in Niagara we spent most of our time in vineyards and equipment barns. Their farms are large scale, flat, and rock free, so they are highly mechanized. Vineyard managers love to talk about equipment, which was more interesting to us than tasting rooms.
We did however have a chance to taste some wines and frankly were floored by their quality. Cabernet Franc, Gamay, and Riesling were the most impressive. They are quickly finding their varietal sweet spots concerning vineyard adaptation and wine quality. Niagara is much larger than Virginia in terms of acreage and wine production, but it all happens in an area smaller than our own Fauquier County. This gives them a big advantage with so many innovative minds working under similar circumstances (terroir).