Old Mission Peninsula Harvest Report
Mark Johnson of Chateau Chantal Winery in Traverse City, Michigan reports mostly good news for local grape growers this year. “We needed a great crop and we got it this year,” said Johnson, VP and Winemaker at Chateau Chantal.
All grapes at Johnson’s winery been harvested with the Pinot Noir being picked on October 26th. Johnson said Pinot Noir yields were 5 tons per acre with a 21 brix and acid of 9 gm/L. 2011 was also a standout year for Pinot Blanc. “We had yields of 16.2 tons per acre on our two-and-one-half-acres of Pinot Blanc,” Johnson said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”
The growing season started slow in Northern lower Michigan. Johnson said he started having concerns about the development of Chateau Chantal’s 40 acre vineyard during the end of June. “But after 30 years of winemaking I don’t get too worried about a couple of bad months,” he said.
Johnson’s patience was rewarded during July which was “spectacular” from a viticultural perspective. During mid- summer, the entire degree day deficit amassed earlier in the Spring was erased. As of this week, with water temperatures in Grand Traverse Bay still in the mid-50’s, frost still had not occurred on the Old Mission Peninsula which is exactly 45 degrees North latitude.
Despite the good harvest, Johnson said that he was surprised by the sporadic quality of the local Riesling. Johnson said that many Riesling clusters contained a high number of bad berries. As of now, he said that he does not know why some Riesling did not fare well during 2011.
The 40 acres of vineyards at Chateau Chantal were established in 1983 when cherry orchards were replaced with vinifera varietals including Cab Franc, Merlot and GewÃ¼rztraminer. Chateau Chantal also owns a 55 acre vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina where Malbec is grown.
Please visit Chateau Chantal’s website at chateauchantal.com.