Hello Wisconsin Fruit News subscribers and welcome back to Notes from the Field: A Grower’s Perspective! I had my tenth and final chat with Philippe on September 6…
It’s grape harvest season at Wollersheim! After a challenging season due to extreme environmental conditions, the fruits are finally ready for harvest and while quantity is down, quality is up – “This is one of the best years we’ve had for fruit quality” Philippe shares with me. Harvest began a couple weeks ago, and the 52-year-old Foch vines and the Domaine Reserve vines have already been harvested. Fruit quality was excellent in the Domaine Reserve coming in at 23.4 °Brix. As expected, the estate vineyard has experienced a substantial reduction in yield this year as a result of the late spring frost. Only 30% of the usual harvest quantity has been obtained. Notably, the white grape varieties have performed better than the red ones under these conditions.
Disease and pest pressure has been minimal this season, although Philippe did observe some fruit flies, so he proactively applied Mustang Maxx insecticide and has not seen (or smelled) any sour rot. Yellow jackets were also observed in some of the vineyard blocks at Wollersheim. There has been a rise in weed pressure, and Philippe believes that this may be partly due to the limited use of herbicides at Wollersheim. Additionally, areas with drip irrigation are witnessing a greater proliferation of weeds. Currently, Philippe and his team are not taking action because the weeds are not posing a significant threat to the vines at this stage of the season. Philippe foresees ongoing challenges with weeds and actively explored steam applications as a potential solution. He feels steam can be successful for a small vineyard, due to the slow penetration time necessary and timing for the weed stage being incredibly important (the smaller the better). For now, Philippe is putting the steam trials aside, and focusing on under-the-row mowers for more efficient control. Our conversation emphasized the necessity of transitioning to alternative management methods as weed control becomes increasingly challenging.
After the harvest, Philippe emphasizes the ongoing need for vine care. Given the persistent absence of rainfall, he plans to maintain irrigation to minimize stress as the vines enter dormancy. Besides continued irrigation, Philippe and his team will keep mowing everything short to conserve moisture. Typically, they would stop mowing at this stage as the vines transition into dormancy, but due to the drought conditions, preserving moisture is a priority. Stressed vines will be less cold-hardy and more susceptible to winter damage. Additionally, Philippe is considering a final fungicide application to reduce any fungal inoculum going into dormancy.
Next week, the final stages of the Wisconsin grape harvest at Wollersheim will be marked by the scheduled harvest of a 3-acre plot of Foch vines. As the growing season gradually comes to an end, the winemaking activities are ramping up. In the coming weeks, we’ll see the arrival of juice from New York, Washington, California, and Michigan, all of which will be used in winemaking.
That wraps up this season’s updates! We hope you found Philippe’s insights throughout the growing season informative and that you’ve gathered some valuable information and seasonal tips for your own operations.
BIG THANKS to Philippe Coquard at Wollersheim Winery for sharing his experience, time and knowledge this season!
Happy harvesting and winemaking!
If you missed any of my previous chats with Philippe, you can find them here. Please stay tuned for our WI Fruit Newsletter feedback survey later this Fall. Your feedback on this series and recommendations for future seasons is greatly appreciated!
This article series is NOT intended to be prescriptive for other vineyards. It is simply an opportunity for our readership to hear from other growers about their experiences growing fruit crops in Wisconsin. Growing the same crop does not always justify the same practices. Management decisions at your farm should be tailored to your operation and take into consideration location, regional climate, disease and pest history of your vineyard, and your varieties.
The mention of a product is NOT an endorsement. Always follow the instructions on product labels and consult weather stations (ex. NEWA) in your area for current weather forecast and disease and pest prediction models.This article was posted in Notes from the Field and tagged Leslie Holland, Notes from the Field, Philippe Coquard.