In the middle of cattle and corn country, the couple were trailblazers into the grape business. They had many things to learn – mostly through experimentation. Sure there’s the Finger Lakes Region of New York is producing great wines, but East Farnham was new to whole wine thing. “Farmers are farmers,” Veronique said. “We decided to try grapes, and hoped for the best.”
The couple’s first decision was to be a Certified Organic and Bio-Dynamic winery. They embraced it wholeheartedly, took a cow horn and filled it with cow manure and Celise (ground Quartz), stirred to one direction for 50 minutes and then the other direction for 50 minutes, buried it and unearthed it in April.
Frontenac, a hybrid grape developed at the University of Minnesota, is a common grape grown in colder climates. Frontenac is good for up to negative 30 degrees F and is resistant to winter. This red wine has a strong black currant, cooked berry flavor mixed with a fresh, green, woody and herbal component.
Vineyard management in the cooler climes was another new learning for Michael and Veronique. After much experimentation, they settled on using the Scott Henry double-trellising system. Two shoots are caned, thus two rows of grapes. The advantages of this split canopy are fungal control and better sunlight absorption, producing wines with smoother tannins. The disadvantage of this system is that vineyard management is harder, as workers have to train the shoots along movable wires. However, the wires are able to move as the canopy grows, allowing a downwards growing position.
What a great lesson in northern grapes and wines at Les Pervenches Winery. It’s a lot of learning for one winery visit.