Lake Champlain Wines Pruning Workshop

March 29, 2010

lcwbannerThis past Saturday March 27th Lake Champlain Wines held an afternoon pruning workshop and informal wine tasting at Hid-in-Pines Vineyard, and it was well attended by about 40 folks, despite the crisp temperatures.  Thank goodness for the strong spring sunshine taking the edge off of the high pressure artic chill that hung in the air.  The sandy soil that had been frozen solid in the dawn hours, was turning under foot by the time things kicked off at 2pm.  The workshop was led by vineyard host Rich Lamoy (Multi-medal winner in the 2009 Winemaker Magazine Amateur Wine Competition) and Rob MacDowell Vice-President of the Lake Champlain Wine organization.

They covered the basics: what kind of vineyard maintenance tools one should have in the bag, recognizing different trellising techniques and appropriate pruning strategy, the difference between spur and cane pruning, and what kinds of vines do best in our challenging north country climate.  It was convincing to see the health of the cold hardy hybrids that dominate the vineyard versus the severe struggle of the one, mostly dead panel of Cabernet Franc (the only vitis vinifera at the site).  There is certainly something to be said for the sheer rugged resolve of these cold hardy plants, their natural vigor, fruitfulness, disease resistance, and most importantly for the wine potential they represent.

The group was made up of folks from the local area, Vermont, and Quebec, and represented a diverse crowd including those with vines already in the ground, to those in the planning stages, those just interested, and others that are simply interested in wine, and wanted to see what the local terroir had to offer. Andy Farmer of New England Vine Supply also made the trip up from West Pawlet, VT and was on hand to answer some questions about current popular varieties, and brought along some cold hardy wines from other states for the taste test.  I’ve worked with some of these grapes and am convinced of the potential, and I think that the interest of any skeptics was piqued this afternoon.  Rich had a number of wines he’s nurturing in his home winery [St. Pepin, La Crescent, Leon Millot, GR-7, Marquette], Rob had a few barrel samples from his work at his own Purple Gate Vineyard just north of Plattsburgh, and I brought a couple of bottles of the bubbly that I made from the 2009 harvest at the Cornell University Baker Farm test vineyard in Willsboro, NY where I volunteer whenever I can.  Rich Lamoy has been the Baker Farm Vineyard caretaker for the last couple of years, and so I have he, and Kevin Iungerman of the Cornell Extension to thank for the fruit.  Even though 2009 was a seriously tough ripening year, and some chaptalization was required, the blend of Vignoles, ES-6-16-30, Louise Swenson, and NY-76, delivered an aromatic, creamy, crisp and tart mousseaux.

Lake Champlain Wine is planning to do informational workshops on a regular basis, in an effort to encourage their neighbors in the Lake Champlain Valley to consider wine and table grapes as a viable agricultural option, and sustainable econmic engine for the future.  My personal feeling is that, even though there may be a world wine wine market, and a certain glut of juice, in varying quality from low to high, that wine that reflects terroir, a unique sense of place, will find a place on our dinner tables…even better if it comes from nearby.


Kevin Iungerman has passed on an announcement from Chris Gerling of Cornell’s Enology Program at the Food Research Laboratory at the Geneva Experiment Station.

Opportunity to Evaluate Your “In-the-Works” wines:

In preparation for bottling, Thursdays in April will be Winemaker’s Roundtable day at the Cornell Enology Extension Lab. All NY wineries are welcome to bring their works in progress or finished wines for blind tasting, critique, and discussion. We’ll be focusing on different wine types each week:

April 1: White vinifera
April 8: Red vinifera
April 15: White hybrids and natives
April 22: Red hybrids and natives
April 29: Fruit wines, dessert wines, and others

All sessions will be held at 9AM in the lunchroom of the Food Research Laboratory at the Geneva Experiment Station.
To help us plan our flights, please RSVP to Ben Gavitt at with the number and types of wine you’d like to bring, and the number of attendees from your winery.

Comments (2)


  1. Rich Lamoy says:

    Thanks for coming over this past weekend to help record and report on our workshop. It is our goal as a group to help foster the growing of grapes and the making of quality wines in our harsh North Country environment. I hope we were able to share some of our combined knowledge as a group and posibly develop an interest in people of the grapes we grow and the wines we make. I look forward to the resulting video covering the event. It will be posted on Lake Champlain Wines and become part of our educational series. Thanks again.

  2. TT says:

    Great way to start the workshop series, and it certainly seemed to generate as much new interest, as it did to educate those who are already in the ground. Thanks!

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