Grapes can grow anywhere but benchmark wines are located in very few spots.
Terrior consists of three pillars, first is your location, this you can’t change. My vineyard is located on top of a series of old stoney shorelines, and ancient glacial till parent material. I have systematic drainage to drain water quickly reducing vigour and stressing vines for water early in the season. To preserve the best aspects of the soil I use minimum tillage and permantent cover crops which preserves the soil as it was created and works. The earthy tones of my reds and mineral aspects of my whites have shown through consistently in the wines I have produced for the past ten years.
Second pillar of terrior is climate, and Niagara could be considered “gifted” when it comes to cool climate viticulture. The Niagara climate results in the freshest fruits and potentially the ripest qualities. Not every year delivers the length of fall required to ripen the later varieties, but my wind machines usually allow me an additional 7 to 10 days to ripen fruit, which results in a similar length of growing season to the Niagara Bench, and allows for more fully ripened fruit.
The final pillar is how I manage the farm. I split this in two areas, first is below grow or on the ground. I use minimum tillage and permanent cover crops to maintain soil integrity. I have developed several management techniques for assuring the quality is the best it can be annually. Balanced vines produce the best fruit and vigour is a concern when crop load isn’t being used to slow the vine down.
The perennial grasses are used to manage the vine growth, this allows me to choose the crop level depending on the season. The use of biodiversity for robust insect population have allowed me to eliminate the use of insecticides during the growing season for mites and leafhoppers. In the center of every other row I have managed habitat for beneficial insect population for 10 years undisturbed. How do you know the biodiversity is working, I haven’t sprayed in 10 years for leafhoppers or mites and the predators of the ecosystem is always present.
The second area is the trellising and canopy management. I have most of the post extended up to six and a half feet verses five feet. The reason for this is leaves produce sugars and flavours, the more you have the higher the fruit quality. I remove leaves on different varieties at different times and amounts, depending on the year. This allows me to maximize the varietal character in different varieties. Thinning the crop is a tool that help the vine ripen the fruit before either the frost arrive or in Pinot Noir before they rot. Drip irrigation I use to manage the water status of the varieties, in dry year deficit irrigate to show drought and still keep the plant functioning and ripening.
The final goal is to represent the year as much as possible, every year should be unique but in the same time show the specific aspects of you soil and location every year.
The Soils of Lincoln Lake Shore in Niagara were formed by Glaciers which deposited gravel into the sedimentary clay. The subsoil is very mineral rich Glacial Till while cames of gravel cover the surface. The result is a heavy soil which restricts vine growth with gravel and crushed stone. Grapes from this appellation are firm and mineral in their expression.