What was old is new again

Posted July 15, 2016 in

Does mustard pair well with wine? In this case, it certainly does!Plowing mustard seed at Chateau Grand Traverse.

The job of winemaking may seem like a glamorous one, swirling wine and sipping the day away. The truth is, at our very core we are farmers and we proudly make our living from the land. Due to some serious winter weather and old age, we have uprooted over 15 acres of vineyards which will be replanted in the spring.  Mother nature is certainly in control!

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how we prepare the soil for new vines.

1. Add a “green manure”

We chose mustard seed to act as a natural biofumagant, which means it works to kill and/or lessen harmful microorganisms in the soil.

2. Plow before it goes to seed

Let the chosen plant grow deep roots to help loosen the soil, but make sure you plow before it goes to seed. After all, we’re trying to make wine, not hot dog condiments.

3. Rest

Once plowed, we let the soil rest for a few weeks. This period is crucial to giving the soil time to settle and recover.

4. Replant with a second cover crop

After a resting period, we will add another cover crop of clover, grain, and brassica (a distant relative of mustard seed). This will add even more biomass and organic matter to the soil. While roots once again develop, deep channels are created in the soil, allowing the process of nitrogen fixation to occur.

5. Repeat

Once the second cover crop has done its job, we will repeat the process until the soil is deemed ready to rest for the winter. In the spring, we will have healthy and happy soil to plant our new vines in.

Although wineries in Michigan can be subjected to everything from blizzards to hail to scorching temperatures, we have the experience of seasoned farmers and viticulture experts to overcome anything. In Spring 2017 we will be replanting 15 combined acres of Riesling, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc, which will start to produce fruit three to four years later. Stay tuned for updates!

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