New Growth in Spring 2015
News and highlights from our vineyards, winery, and farm from Spring 2015. Viticulture innovation and collaboration, a visit from Tony Aspler, and more.
In the Vineyard
We were challenged with a rough winter in Nova Scotia. Record snowfall amounts blanketed our vineyards for months on end. The positive side of the snow was that it insulated our vines, protecting them against possible injury during cold spells. The challenge was that the snow accumulation delayed pruning significantly. In fact, in previous years we have completed pruning before our mid April start this year. Thanks to our dedicated vineyard crew, and the help from our friend Ian Kaye (@1ankaye) and his staff at Nova Scotia Vineyard Consulting who pushed through long hours, seven days a week, we were able to get all 35 acres pruned and tied before bud break.
Given the persistent winter, we were anticipating a later start to the growing season this year. However, we were reminded again that Mother Nature has a special way of compensating as we experienced bud break around the same time as we always do; falling around mid to late May depending on variety.
We have been keeping busy incorporating biodynamic preparations into the vineyards and pastures around the farm this spring. These help rejuvenate our soils and increase the health of our farm’s ecosystem in a natural way. The following have been applied at least once so far this season:
Biodynamic Preparation 500 Cow Horn Manure – is essentially fermented cow manure. BD500 serves as the basis for soil fertility; renewing and enlivening soils. BD 500 is made by filling a cow horn with dung and burying it in the soil during the cooler months. The horn is seen as a reflector of forces and the manure is buried in it to undergo a transformative process. In the spring, the manure is stirred with water to create a liquid, which can be applied to soil. It has been shown that with regular application BD500 will give a soil all the characteristics needed to sustain a living soil. This includes strong humus formation, increase in soil bacteria life, enhancement of earthworm activity, promotion of rooting, and greater absorption and retention of water.
Biodynamic Preparation 501 Cow Horn Silica – Finely ground quartz crystals. Also buried in a cow horn to absorb certain forces during the summer months. BD501 is sprayed in the very early morning in a fine mist over the plants. It makes plants more sensitive to sunlight by enhancing photosynthesis and makes them better adapted to their environment. We apply it at the beginning of the plant’s development and later shortly before harvest. BD501 has been shown to improve the quality of fruit in regards to taste and enhancement of Brix (sugar) levels.
Horsetail tea – We made a tea from the horsetail plant and spray it in the vineyard. In nature, horsetail lives in damp, dark places but does not suffer from fungal issues such as rot and mildews. Spraying horsetail keeps these diseases in the ground and off the vines.
There is always a risk of winter injury when growing tender varieties in a cool climate. We are relieved to discover coming out of this harsh winter that injury has been minimal. Overall, everything is looking healthy and even some of the harder to grow varieties (i.e. Pinot Noir) are looking exceptionally well. This is a positive start to a new season and energizes us as we look forward to the possibilities for vintage 2015.
This will be a big year for Lightfoot & Wolfville’s Estate vineyard sites as we have 14 new acres that will bear fruit for the first time. We are excited to begin experimenting with some of these new varieties such as Riesling, Ortega, Vidal Blanc and Siegerrebe.
We would like to say a special welcome to Nova Scotia wine country to our new growing partners Don Johnston (@goodhoneyguy) and Sharon Mulvagh (@HeartDocSharon) of Johnston Vineyards. Their new 14-acre planting is on a beautiful site in Falmouth. Our aligning winegrowing philosophies have us excited to work with them and their fruit in the future.
In the Winery
We were delighted to be approved to make a Tidal Bay blend this year, our province’s appellation wine. We opted for a dry, crisp blend of four varieties that pairs well with our beautiful view of Cape Blomidon. Look for its release later this summer. Read more about the background of Tidal Bay.
Lightfoot & Wolfville was honored to have a visit from the accomplished Canadian wine writer Tony Aspler at the beginning of June. We think you will enjoy reading Tony’s article about his Nova Scotia visit.
Our winemaking team has been working hard putting wines to bottle the last few months. This includes our first releases of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, as well as our Tidal Bay blend and a rosé. Stay tuned in the next few weeks for an announcement with their availability dates!
On the Farm
We have had several new additions to the farm this spring. Our reason for keeping animals in the vineyard stems from our biodynamic philosophies – it is thought that the animals bring ensouled/astral forces to the farm that the plants alone do not have, creating an ideally balanced ecosystem. All of the animal’s manure is currently used to build compost, which is then used around the farm to boost fertility.
The cow is particularly sacred as it is the digestive part of the farm, its manure provides the soil with the exact nutrition that it needs. Thus, we are very excited to announce that we have taken our journey with biodynamic farming one step further by purchasing a small herd of Kerry cattle. The Kerry is native to Ireland and is one of the oldest breeds of cattle in Europe. With only approximately 75 Kerrys in Canada at this time, this breed is on the endangered list with Rare Breeds Canada. We are excited to begin our journey assisting in the preservation of this rare breed.
Other new additions include four heritage piglets (Tamworth/Berkshire cross) and one new lamb named Fernando joined our flock of Olde English Southdown “Babydoll” Sheep. We will continue to work to build our sheep numbers in the next few years with the end goal of pasturing them in the vineyards for weed control in the early spring.
Lightfoot & Wolfville has been involved in a carefully planned, long-term project in the pursuit of discovering new grape varieties that will thrive in our region. Through collaboration with Dr. Sean Myles and the province of Nova Scotia we have developed several grapevine crossbreeds from varieties including Vidal, Chasselas, Geisenheim, New York Muscat, Pearl of Csaba, and Riesling. We are seeing this project come to full realization this spring with the planting of these baby vines. We can’t help but wonder if one of these crosses could become Nova Scotia’s next exemplary grape…
The architectural planning and development agreement stage has been successful for our future retail building. We are currently interviewing contractors with the goal to start construction of this exciting project some time in the next year. We hope to be officially open to the public by late 2016-early 2017. Stay tuned for an artist’s rendering of the building coming soon.