Our goal when we started our farm was to grow and sell a damn good wine grape, either fresh from our vines or aged in our bottles.
In the spring of 2016 we planted 80 Corot Noir and 80 Traminette one year old saplings. Corot Noir (a red) and Traminette (a white) are cold hardy hybrid wine grapes developed at Cornell. Traminette is the Indiana State Wine. In December 2016 the temperature fell to -23 F. To our pleasant surprise, our grapes survived.
So, in spring of 2017, we expanded our vineyard to 240 Corot Noir and 240 Traminette, and added 240 Frontenac Blanc whites, 240 La Crescent whites, and 120 Frontenac reds, 120 Landot reds, and 120 Leon Millot reds. The Frontenacs and the La Crescent were developed at the University of Minnesota. Landot and Leon Millot have complex ancestries.
Our vineyard is oriented north-south to take advantage of our terrain and our prevailing winds. All our grapes are eight vines to a row, 8 feet apart, and 12 feet between rows. We have 11 plots of 120 vines per plot, 24 feet between each plot. Almost all of these 1320 vines survived the January 2019 low temperature of -22F. We hope 2021 will be the year that the promise of these grapes will be fulfilled.
We have learned the hard way that waiting to spray for Anthracnose, Botrytis Bunch Rot, and their numerous ilk to cause damage above a hypothetical economic injury threshold is not a good idea, because by then it is too late to save the crop. We now follow the recommendations of experts at Indiana University, Michigan State University, and the University of Minnesota, all of whom have been most helpful to us, personally as well as through their publications.
At or near 1200 degree-growing-days, usually in the middle of July, we make an estimate of what our crop will be. We invite those who may be interested in purchasing our grapes, fresh or freshly pressed, to contact us (and, if they wish, visit us) at that time.
Our on-site winery has the capacity to wash, de-stem, crush, press, and begin to ferment the fruit from 120 of our vines in a day, which by design is about as much as we can harvest in a busy early morning and process before the day ends. This gives us the capacity to harvest when best for an individual plot. This year we will prune our clusters at mid-year so that each vine will yield just a bit more than one gallon (about 10 pounds) of grapes per vine.
We have recently received a Farm Winery License from the State of Indiana. Wines produced on our property will be for sale in 2021 at our farm stand, and at a competitive price. We will bottle some of each grape individually, and experiment with blending them. You may wish to do the same.
Our trademark is Cotes de La Porte®. We hope you will smile at the trademark, be attracted by the label, and like what you find inside.
The grapes from our cold-hardy varietals produce lighter, dryer wines than some customers may desire, and they do not stand up to chapitation, which is adding sugar to make the wine sweeter, more alcoholic, or both. Our first attempt at blending – 60% Frontenac, 40% Corot Noir – was a pleasant surprise, and that is a direction we will be pursuing. If others have interest in exploring blending, particularly with grapes other than our own, we would be particularly interested in speaking with you.