Ohio Grape-Wine Electronic Newsletter

Editor: Imed Dami, PhD
Assistant Professor and Extension Viticulture Specialist
Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center
1680 Madison Avenue
Wooster, OH 44691-4096
Phone: (330)-263-3882
Fax: (330)-263-3887
E-mail: dami.1@osu.edu

09 November 2007
Hilling-up vines for winter protection
  Grape Initiative in Southern Ohio
  New Book on Sustainable Viticulture Practices
Hillarious-no laughing matter
by David Scurlock

During the 90’s decade the hilling up process became an unpleasant memory.  The turn of the century was no laughing matter.  The winters of 2003, 2004 and 2005 definitely brought about a rebirth of hilling up to protect vinifera vines.  This was especially true of our neighbors in New York State who suffered more vine losses due to cold winter temperatures on unhilled vines.
Some of the growers in Northern Ohio perform a pre-hilling up process in September to control weeds and build up the mound for winter protection.  Our recommendation is to hill up your vinifera vines for winter protection by whatever means you have available to you.  This is a standard practice for vinifera vineyards and is also a good practice for newly planted grafted vines whether they are vinifera or French hybrid vines.  The idea is that soil hilled up above the graft union is going to provide you with the best protection from cold injury at least to the graft union area and those viable scion buds above the union.  In the event that we, parish the thought, would get a severely cold winter this will increase the odds that your vine will survive although it in no way offers immunity to the top exposed portion of the vine.  At one time we did bury two to four ten bud canes underground.  These were attached to a wire that ran along the ground so that the canes could be more easily pulled up from under the soil and used for cropping in the event that the top fruiting portion was winter killed.  If we did not have killing temperatures, the buried canes could be spurred back and allowed to grow again to be used in the same manner the following fall.  This is labor intensive, although effective for survival and a partial crop following a severe winter.  Size of your operation, cost and time determine what you can do.  There are several hilling machines on the market.  Three machines that are commonly used are the Braun-a mid mounted single disk plow, the Green hoe-mid mounted single blade and the Clover Hill-three point hitch mounted offset disk plow.  These range from $1500-$6000 depending when you bought it (new or used) and what type of accessories that you purchase with it.  My goal every year is to have the vines buried prior to Thanksgiving.  This gives me a deadline and insures that the vines are protected before any severe temperatures occur. Vines that are uniform with straight trunks make this operation easier to accomplish.  The process of taking the soil away in the spring requires more skill and vines that are uniformly spaced with straight trunks will make this process easier. Soil conditions are another aspect of hilling that you must pay attention to.  If the soil is too wet you are going to get clumping of the soil and have areas of air pockets that will not insulate the vine.  This whole process is not the best thing for the soil in the first place so you want to minimize the damage that you are doing to the soil stucture.  Soil that is friable when it is mounded and behaves more like a blanket is what you are looking for.  These machines do not work on rocky ground or hillsides where erosion is going to be a problem.  Other methods such as the use of mulching materials (straw, bark, grape pumice or fill in the blank) may be used as an alternative.  These materials are expensive unless you have free access to them and large quantities are needed to offer similar protection as soil.  Hilling is not hilarious, but is a one of the tools we have to compete with Mother Nature.


Grape Initiative for Southern Ohio
by Maurus Brown, Small Fruit Crops Specialist, OSU South Centers, Piketon

A new grape initiative has been started at the OSU South Centers, Piketon to promote the economic development of the southern Ohio wine industry.  Our goal is to use a multi-discipline approach to help address grape and wine production questions that will lead to the expansion of the wine industry in southern Ohio.  To show that an agricultural-based wine industry is an economic benefit for southern Ohio, this grape research trial will be part of an effort to promote wine grape production, winery expansion, tourism, and new markets for Ohio wines.  Experimental wines will be produced in the Enology lab at the OARDC, Wooster to investigate the potential for making commercial wines from tested varieties.  Research on anthocyanins and phenolic compounds will be conducted to determine the levels found in wine grapes grown in southern Ohio growing region.  

Wine grape varieties selected for this new trial are based on the NE-1020 grape research initiative protocol
http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/pubs/vitcon/07pdf/56.pdf).   Research will investigate varieties to determine if they are adaptable to southern Ohio growing conditions.  This trial will be planted in 2008 on the research farm at OSU South Centers.  Field tile (4-inch perforated polyvinyl tile) was installed for drainage.  The vineyard is being planted in an Omulga silt loam soil, with moderate permeability above a fragipan.  The soil surface is 05 percent. 

Table 1. Grape varieties evaluated for commercial production in southern Ohio.
Variety (Scion) Type Rootstock Location in Vineyard
Viognier Vinifera 101-14 Replicated Plots
Petite Verdot Vinifera 101-14 Replicated Plots
Merlot* Vinifera 101-14 Replicated Plots
Cabernet Sauvignon* Vinifera 101-14 Replicated Plots
Malvesia Bianca Vinifera 101-14 Replicated Plots
Tempranillo Vinifera 101-14 Replicated Plots
Hibernal French-American 3309C Replicated Plots
Noiret French-American 3309C Replicated Plots
Vidal* French-American 3309C Replicated Plots
Chambourcin* French-American 3309C Replicated Plots
Chardonnay Vinifera 101-14 Guard Row
Cabernet Franc Vinifera 101-14 Guard Row
Vidal French-American 3309C Guard Row
Chambourcin French-American 3309C Guard Row
*Standard (check) varieties

Research will be conducted on test varieties and standard wine varieties will be used as checks.  The trial will be established as a completely randomized plot design within bilateral cordon (French-American hybrids) or VSP (Vinifera) trellis systems, with six replications.  Four vines will be planted per plot to assure adequate yield of grapes for processing.  Experimental wines will be evaluated by Todd Steiner at the OARDC, Wooster into experimental wines.

        Data will be recorded on leaf wetness, canopy temperature, relative humidity, sunlight penetration, and soil temperature.  Information on each component will be monitored to determine if there are effects on plant growth, pest populations and overall variety and environment interaction.  Data will also be collected on chilling hours to monitor dormancy and cold acclimation and deacclimation and heat units, which relate to overall vine growth and productivity.  We will also record budbreak, insect and disease presence, first and full-bloom, and time of veraison.

Extension programs will include grower consultations, vineyard site visits, workshops, and field nights.  New grape growers will be assisted with marketing tools (e.g., OGEN grape marketing system, Market Maker®) to help them find markets for wine grapes.  Tourism is considered one of the fastest growing economic sectors in Ohio and can provide a good resource for showcasing wineries in southern Ohio.  OSU South Centers work closely with the Ohio travel and tourism industry and would like to help promote southern Ohio wineries and attract new tourism dollars to southern Ohio.

This research initiative is being conducted as a collaboration among Maurus Brown (OSU South Centers), Imed Dami (OSU State Viticulturist), Todd Steiner (Enology Program Manager and Outreach Specialist), and Monica Giusti (OSU Food Science and Technology Dept.).

New Book on Sustainable Viticulture Practices

October 5, 2007
Contact: Linda McCandless,

Cornell Cooperative Extension Publishes Sustainable Viticulture Workbook
By Joe Ogrodnick
Geneva, N.Y.: Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) has published a 125-page self- assessment workbook on sustainable agriculture for grape growers. The workbook, New York Guide To Sustainable Viticulture Practices, is now available in both print and online versions.
"Increased sustainability has been embraced as a goal for many businesses, from agriculture and industry to retail giants. Everybody knows that they 'want' it, but defining it has been more elusive," said Tim Martinson, a CCE senior extension associate and leader of the Sustainable Viticulture Project. "For growers, sustainability is the result of numerous day-to-day decisions they make about managing their vineyards. We hope this workbook will provide them with practical, nuts-and-bolts ideas that they can apply to reducing environmental impacts while improving or maintaining profitability and protecting health and safety for workers and consumers."
New York Guide To Sustainable Viticulture Practices offers grape growers in New York and other regions of the northeastern United States guidance in the evaluation and adoption of best management practices to minimize environmental impacts, reduce economic risks and protect worker health and safety. These practices include: soil management to reduce erosion, runoff and leaching; use of integrated pest management (IPM) practices for insect, disease and weed management; nutrient management, with a particular focus on nitrogen use; pesticide management and spray technology; and cultural practices used in viticulture. The workbook asks growers 134 questions related to these practices.
After answering the questions, growers can develop an action plan based on the results of their self-assessment. The action plan addresses those practices they believe can be effectively modified within the financial and management capacity of their farm.
The workbook has already been used by over 60 grape growers statewide, who manage over 5,000 acres of grapes or 20 percent of the total New York grape acreage, according to Jamie Hawk, outreach coordinator for the Sustainable Viticulture Project. These growers were able to identify an average of nine specific changes that they will implement on their farms over the next few years.
The impetus for developing this workbook came from industry groups across New York state - from juice grape cooperatives and large wineries based in the Finger Lakes and Lake Erie to the small-winery segment in the Finger Lakes and on Long Island. All of these groups were represented on the steering committee (12 from industry and three from CCE), and were looking for a way to promote and document the use of sustainable production practices by growers, processors and wineries. The project was funded through the Northeast Center for Risk Management Education, the New York Farm Viability Institute, and the New York Wine and Grape Foundation.
The workbook is recognized and endorsed by the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Program of the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets as the official Tier 2 AEM Worksheets for vineyards. Through local soil and water conservation districts, the AEM program helps identify cost-sharing opportunities to help finance conservation practices that reduce environmental impacts of agriculture.
"The development of this workbook was the first totally collaborative project that included all grape-growing regions across New York state and all varieties that are used for juice, wine and table grape production," said Tom Davenport, director of viticulture for the National Grape Cooperative. "Producers, processors and winery representatives across the state worked diligently with Cornell research and Cooperative Extension personnel to develop the workbook. It not only enables producers to evaluate the sustainability of their farms, but contains specific recommendations that will help them continue to adopt new sustainable practices as part of a continuous improvement process."
Copies of New York Guide To Sustainable Viticulture Practices can be purchased online for $30.00 through the NYSAES bookstore at:

The online version is available at: (www.vinebalance.com).