Watson's News

Welcome to Vintage 2016!

We have tonnes of sunshine and water (thanks to the trickle irrigation system) and we are on course for the best vintage since 2010. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we don't get any hail from all this humidity, and that mother nature doesn't give us our share of natural rain during harvest. Just yesterday we were thrilled to wake up to a beautiful rain that gave us about 1.5". This was the first moisture that we had since bud break and it helped but wasn't enough to convince growers to turn off the water cannons. These guns are amazing as the spew out close to 500 gallons/minute and have a radius of 170'. At any given time we can see 8 or 9 from our house. While they are impressive to look at, moving pipe, scheduling your labour and spraying behind them is very time consuming and costly. Our system is the envy in Niagara, this year, as we can hedge and deleaf, and continue manual labour at the same time as the water is dripping. We can also stretch our fungicide sprays as the canopy doesn't get wet and this will be a savings of about $3000 which covers the diesel bill for irrigating. Each grouping of zones is watered in 6 hours so we can water the entire vineyard in 18 hours. We have soil moisture probes installed and we monitor them very closely so that we only put down the correct amount of water. Trickle irrigating grapes is not a new concept and there are numerous studies and information available to assist us in achieving a mature, well balanced harvest. The vines can't take advantage of the beautiful sunshine if they are water stressed. We will start "deficit irrigation" in the next week or so which has proven to produce the most mature fruit (according to research papers).

We are busy tucking up all the branches and removing leafs by hand where the machine missed them. We have completed secondary shoot and bunch removal, which is important as they will not ripen at the same time as the primaries do and they just clog up the canopy and prevent the sunshine from reaching the target. We will be into veraison in 2 weeks or so and therefore will be doing our final thinning of the season. We are also harvesting yet another bumper crop of rocks that seem to just keep growing year after year. I remember doing this disgusting job with my brother Jayson and my Dad when I was a kid and thinking that soon the rocks will all be gone and we wouldn't have to pick any more, boy was I wrong!

Last year we mentioned that where possible, we would not be doing a snail mailed newsletter anymore in preference to an email with an attachment. However, due to the fact that we didn't see all of you last year because we didn't have enough grapes, we decided that we would send another newsletter this year. We would very much like to add your email address into the computer at harvest when you pick up your juice/must. This will save us a lot of time and money mainly because Allie and Connor don't work for $3/hr any longer ☺. Speaking about the kids, Allie has returned from the north with one successful year of university under her belt and is serving at "The Sandtrap" in NOTL. Connor has 2 years left in High School and is slaving away on the farm, his choice! Cathy still looks forward to leaving us 2 days a week to clean teeth which reminds me of how bad it is around here or maybe its just me.

We have been receiving orders for about 2 months now and are looking forward to the huge wave of requests that follow the newsletter. Ontario wine sales are extremely strong, grocery stores will be offering increased shelf space and Ontario grape production was very low for two years in a row which means that wineries are very aggressively looking for product and that you should order asap. Remember the shiraz or syrah is sold out for this year, we are continuing to offer Auxerois due to its success and...always wear sunscreen.

Have a great late summer, Kevin