Sunday, November 21, 2010

VaLa Harvest Was a Very Good Year for VaLa Vineyards in Pennsylvania

I am posting this about a month late, so my apologies to the folks at Va La Vineyards, in Pennsylvania. I can't help it, but I love this winery and their wines. Exquisite stuff. And I like the way they do things. They do things right.

Harvest 2010 at Va La.
by Anthony Vetri
My family and I farm a small hill of about 6.73 acres in Chester County. We produce from 500 to 700 cases annually. This vintage marked just our tenth commercial harvest which we have experience of from this site, so we do not have any deep conclusions to draw from our time here as of yet. Statistically, the summer of 2010 was the warmest in our region's history, with nearby Philadelphia recording 55 days of 90 degree temperatures. The soil of our site remained deeply dry through early October.

Our methods are somewhat simplistic; all vines are dry-farmed, harvesting is done by hand, and the bins transported by lawn mower and trailer directly across the field for sorting and crushing. During the first week of September, we began harvesting the southeastern slope of our hill for the varieties that go into our single white wine. Harvest of reds began in the darker soils on September 11, and was completed on October 10. By this time we had accumulated over 4000 Growing Degree Days since March 15. In comparison, last vintage we began harvest on October 10 and completed it on November 11.

Some miscellaneous observations from our hill:
Fruit Set was dangerously efficient this year, with well-packed clusters that would have suffered rot stress in a wetter year. However clusters in general were under our ten year average for this site, and berry size was reduced in almost all clones and varieties. Seed scores were excellent throughout the vineyard. Canes lignified almost fully by mid July. First leaf senescence was noted on September 24, about 17 days ahead of schedule. Incidence of rot and mildew was of course low, but bunch stem necrosis was actually higher than normal in the northeast areas of the hill. (We hypothesize this was due to declination, reduced spraying, as well as heavy reliance on low impact materials.) Berry shrivel was common place. Robin, Starling, and Yellow Jacket predation were elevated and intense, as was Brown Stink Bug presence. Lady bugs and Japanese beetles were a relative no show.

Fermentations are now nearly completed in the winery. We are readying the wines for barrel. Over all, we view the quality of the 2010 harvest as having potential for us to be surpass the previous quality vintages of 05, 07, and 02.

Anthony and family
Va La.