Yes, there is still snow on the ground and literally feet of frost in the ground. One must trudge through drifts in the vineyard to get chunks of dormant grape vines which can be cut into short pieces with a couple of sets of buds on each piece. It is surprising how much potential there is in a 3 inch stick of wood. The short sticks are stuck into soil in the greenhouse and given warmth from beneath to keep the soil at a desirable temperature for growing. Hopefully most of the little sticks will sprout roots beneath the soil and leaves above the soil. The idea of course, is to have each of these cuttings grow into a hearty, productive grapevine.
We have given these grapevines a real test this winter, with temperatures going into the twenty to thirty degree below zero range. We have proven that these grape varieties can produce good wines for the Northern grower, with excellent flavor, color, and good sugar content. Yet we can only wait until a very severe winter to test cold hardiness. As we now bottle our first wine from our initial planting, we begin to see the hardiness of the grapes after a truly cold and severe season. Winter has probably not finished with us yet but we are beginning to see the viability of the vines by the life still left in the wood that we have harvested for propagation. There are even hopes that our little chunk of flyover country could be the new Napa Valley, as California suffers from abnormal weather.
Hopefully our vines have survived their first bout with the polar vortex and will give us another opportunity next fall to find out whether we can learn to make decent wine. We are optimistic as we propagate additional vines to extend our vineyard.