So, What are we Growing Anyway?

We definitely have gotten into the fast-paced part of the growing season for our grapes.  After the frost hit our vines the night of Mother's Day, they seemed a little sad for a while.  Many of the leaves towards the bottoms of the vines and even some shoots were damaged by the frost.  We just let them recover, and boy, did they! Since I don't live right at our vineyard, I try to make it there with my kids to work at least 2 days a week...sometimes we make it more and sometimes not. :)  But, every time I come, the vines literally look different every time.  They have just taken off and are literally growing like weeds!  The weeds are having a hard time keeping up. :) A lot of people ask us what type of grapes, or varieties, we are growing.  So, I thought I'd just touch on what we have growing in our vineyard, and I'm sure you'll hear a lot more about each variety as we go! We have 6 varieties planted on a little over 2 acres.  We have 3 red grape varieties, and 3 white varieties.  They are cold hardy grapes that can handle our cold, Iowa winters.  The grapes that are grown in California would not stand a chance here. On the west side of our vineyard near the highway is Marquette.  Marquette is a newer grape, and not a lot of wine has been produced from this grape yet.  It is a red grape, and it grows like crazy.  It is our most vigorous grape and has been since the day we planted it. Next to the Marquette is La Crescent.  It is a white grape, and we currently have 200 vines planted.  We chose to plant more La Crescent and Marquette than the others, and so far, they are doing well. In the middle of our vineyard is Frontenac and Frontenac Gris.  Frontenac is another red variety, and Gris is a white variety, although it actually is a pinker, or blush-looking grape.  But, it is considered  a white grape in the vineyard and winery. And, on the east side, near the cornfield,  are Marechel Foch and Brianna.  We planted less than 100 Foch plants since there a lot of people growing this grape already.  It is a red variety that is often blended with other grapes.  And, Brianna rounds out our 6 varieties currently.  It is a white variety that is also growing very well.  We're excited about this grape and have hopes of making some good white wine(s) out of it! It's funny how my mom and I tend to work in the vineyard.  I seem to always want to start on the west side in the Marquette, and she tends to start on the east side in the Brianna.  So, I guess we balance each other out because we make sure each side is doing well!  By the time we get to the middle, we're usually pretty tired.  But, we have the sandbox down at the bottom of the vineyard for Landon and Ella, so getting to the middle is motivation because then I can have Landon out there with me while I work and he digs like Papa with his diggers! :) Well, that's a very brief introduction into what we have growing currently...and, we know now that we can grow grapes.  It's a matter of controlling them that is the harder task! I always want to try to throw some photos in here because they are fun to see.  The top photo is from Kelly, and is a picture of Mom from last summer with our first year vines!  I'm just guessing that is a photo of a Gris vine based on where she is in the vineyard...but, it's just a guess.  I don't have a PhD in viticulture, though I'm guessing in a few more years, I'll be able to identify our varieties just by a photograph.  And, the last photo is a picture of Kelly last summer as well.  She has made an AMAZING scrapbook of Glyn Mawr Vineyard, starting from the beginning.  So, someday, we hope to display it in our winery.  We just need to remember to keep taking pictures for's seems easy, but we tend to forget a lot! :) Til next time!

Comment on this post (3 comments)

  • glynmawrvineyard says...

    Hi Jerry- Thanks for your comment! Actually, our vineyard is also completely surrounded by tillable acres, which has either corn or soybeans planted. And, 2,4-D, which is used a lot on fields, is very detrimental to grape vines. If the spray drift hit the vines, they could all be wiped out. So, there are some measures you take to help prevent that from happening. First, you need to get some No-Spray signs from your state extension office. I believe we received the first couple for either free or at a very discounted price. Then, there is literature in the form of a letter that can be mailed to all of your neighboring farmland’s owners letting them know that you will be planting grapes and not to spray when there is a wind going towards your vineyard. And, keeping in the good graces of your neighbors is a plus as well! :) My mom and I’s vineyard is on my parents’ acreage, so they have actually stopped sprayers before when they are spraying with the wrong wind and have asked them to come back another day.

    Also, if there is NO wind when farmers spray, that can be bad as well, as that cloud of spray just sits over the field and then can pick up and drift when a wind hits. My mom and I have taken a viticulture course at our community college, and we were told that 2,4-D can drift as far as a couple miles. We have had no problems thus far.

    With grapes, you are not able to get crop insurance the first few years b/c there is no crop to document. So, they will not provide insurance until there is a crop. So, that can mean a lot of money in the vines as well as many, many, MANY hours of labor that is almost priceless if something were to happen. But, at the same time, many Iowa and Illinois vineyards have never had a problem, so many people get by just fine.

    I hope that helps a little! Let me know if you would like more direction on spray signs and documentation and I can send some your way! Thanks for the great question! It may be a topic for my next blog! :)


    January 18, 2016

  • Jerry Carter says...

    Hi. Great information. I live in north central Illinois and am curious what risks there are growing grapes near cornfields? There is alot of commercial pesticide use like Round Up and fertilization with Anhydrous Ammonia. I am considering starting a vineyard on 7 acres, however it is surrounded by corn and soybeans. Any information regarding this subject would be greatly appreciated.

    January 18, 2016

  • Jerry Carter says...

    Thank You so much for the information. Fortunately most of the surrounding farmland is owned by the same family that will have the vineyard. I am just starting out on this new and exciting venture and am very worried about how some things will turn out. If you do present this topic on your new blog, would you also cover the challenges of convertng former corn and soybean farmland to vineyards? All information is very helpful to me right now. I just returned from Sonoma County, California and I have the bug. I also understand that Illinois was the largest producer of wine before prohibition in the United States. But finding internet information just to get an idea of what to expect seems very difficult. Thanks again.

    January 18, 2016

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