Author: Aimee Foster. A warm gentle breeze carries the chatter and laughter of happy wine-sipping visitors and cools us off in the miraculous 80 degree heat. We are sitting under the beautiful pavilion at Sovereign Estate Wine, a vineyard and winery in Waconia, Minnesota, where new and experienced Minnesota grape growers from near and far are gathered to learn about managing and trouble-shooting young grapevines. This is the second workshop and tour in a free series put on by the grape and enology team at the University of Minnesota.
After an introduction by Dr. Matt Clark, we walk across the lawn to visit some older Marquette vines. This picturesque block slopes gently downhill towards Lake Waconia where jet skis rip across the open water, soaking in the warm sunshine. Sheep graze the weeds in the next block over - nature’s herbicide. Here we listen to Isaac Savaryn, the vineyard manager at Sovereign Estate, talk about his pruning methods. We also discuss how bud break and shoot growth varies from region to region in Minnesota.
Next, we load up a caravan and drive to the next vineyard block. This is a newer site, planted in 2018. Annie Klodd, UMN Extension Educator, demonstrates how to shoot thin a second year vine that has been winter injured. She also demonstrates how to train two trunks on second year vines and goes into detail about the importance of training two (or more) trunks, especially in a cold climate such as Minnesota. We ask a lot out of our vines in the winter! We also discuss new site preparation, weed management for young vines, and soil and foliar testing.
Once again, we load up and caravan over to yet another new planting from 2018. Sovereign Estate is now up to about 25 acres of vineyard, one of the largest in the state. Here we discuss disease management and trellising systems.
Our last stop, quite naturally, is the tasting room. Isaac shares generous pours of the winery’s Marquette, La Crescent, and Frontenac Blanc wines as we sit at round tables and share our stories.
Thank you to all the growers who attended this workshop and added to our lively discussions. We hope to see you again!
A huge thank you to our partner, Sovereign Estate Wine, for helping to lead and organize this particular workshop and to North Central SARE for support and funding of this project.
The UMN team is partnering with Smiley Vineyard in Cannon Falls, MN for the next workshop on Saturday, June 8. They will discuss canopy management techniques and sustainable pest control. Stay tuned for a recap in a few weeks!