Heron HillBlog

Meet our bloggers and find out what's going on at Heron Hill Winery and our other two tasting rooms on Seneca and Canandaigua Lakes! Staff members are writing about the vineyards, what's happening in the cellar, fun events, wine pairings, new releases and more.

Bernard Cannac
June 8, 2010 | Harvest | Bernard Cannac

Planting the new vineyard in front of the winery

By Bernard Cannac, Winemaker

This spring has been quite interesting so far: the latest spring frost was in mid-May, and from there the weather has been quite hot and humid.

Two weeks ago, we planted over seven acres of vines. The new planting took place mainly in front of the winery. We planted about five acres of Riesling including different clones. The diversity of the clones will bring more complexity to the wines in the future. We also planted about one acre of Muscat and one acre of Vidal Blanc, hopefully to make Icewines and Late Harvests, depending on the weather conditions.

Last fall we took some soil samples to get a soil analysis and added some lime, which was worked into the soil. In the spring, we added some natural fertilizers, which was also worked into the soil. It created a flat and smooth layer of soil for the laser planter.


We had a team of professionals come with a laser planter to make sure that the rows were at the right spacing and that the vines were planted evenly. This equipment belongs to the Hosmer Family and their partner. On the video, you can see how the planter operates. The team first makes a survey of the field, then puts markers on the field. It looks like lines of little flags with different colors. A laser beam then goes between two tripods and the photocell on the planter runs along the beam. The tractor driver has to keep the planter in line the whole time, looking at three lights: green means right in line, orange means slightly off line but acceptable and red means that the planter lost the beam. The team makes it look easy, but it takes a lot of skills to keep the ensemble in perfect alignment with an invisible laser beam. As you can see on the video, two persons feed the machine with plants, and Zac, our Vineyard Manager was walking behind the procession to make sure no vine was missing. We took turns for three days, walking in a dust cloud under the blazing sun. I have the sunburn to remind me about that weekend. It was Memorial Day weekend, and it was memorable.

For us, it has been a lot of work to get the soil ready for the planting, and now there will be a lot of work ahead of us: each vine has to have a pencil rod, so the young shoots can be lifted off the ground, we have to put the posts in the ground, then run at least one wire this season to clip the pencil rods on this lower wire.

So far the weather has been giving us enough rain, but we might have to water the plants individually in the next few days, if it doesn’t rain.

But it is a very exciting time for us, because all this work is for the foundation of a vineyard that will be there for a few decades. Once a vineyard is planted, it is very hard to change its characteristics. So we hope we did the right things and made the right decisions, because this vineyard is here to stay. It is up to us now to take good care of it, so we can get the best grapes it can produce, so we can make the best wines, for the delight of all of us.

Even though we have been busy at the vineyard, Brian has managed to get most of the wines ready for bottling. We actually bottled the 2007 Heron Hill Cabernet Franc last week. The wine is recovering from the bottling (bottle shock). It should be released in a couple of weeks. It is a solid wine, with a lot of fresh berry on the nose. It has a big body and will age beautifully. We also blended a Reserve Cabernet Franc, which will be bottled sometime in the summer.

In spring and summer, we always have something to do, inside or outside! Santé!


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