By mid-July the grapes were growing nicely and the clusters seemed to be doing very well.
In late July/early August, we noticed some black spots on many of the leaves and several of the grapes were beginning to lose shape and turn black. We investigated and determined that “black rot” had invaded us. Grape black rot is a fungal disease that attacks grape vines during hot and humid weather. The name comes from the black fringe that borders the brown patches on the leaves and it also attacks all the green parts of the vine. Certainly the most damaging effect is to the fruit. The grapes dry up, turn black and shrivel to the size of BB’s. These are called “mummies”. It can cause complete crop loss. While we did not experience a complete loss, the black rot did have a dramatic impact on the Marquette harvest.
Veraision began in mid-July. Veraision is the term meaning “the onset of ripening”. Veraison represents the transition from grape growth to grape ripening and many changes in the grapes development. The official definition of veraison is change of color of the grapes.
Another pest we had to deal with was the birds.
Marquette’s high sugar level makes it particularly attractive to the birds. There are a number of ways to try to manage the bird effects and we determined that the best, most effective method for us was bird netting. After some research we chose the netting that was 500 feet long and 17 feet wide. This would give us good coverage for the full length of the rows and be wide enough to cover each row from side-to-side on the ground so birds could not get under the netting. We began installing the netting in late August and covered the 6 rows of Marquette and left it on until we were ready to harvest.
We continued to test the brix through August and decided to pick on September 6, 2014.
The data at harvest was Degrees 24.5 brix, 3.26 pH and 11.6 Total Acidity (TA). The total weight picked was 273 pounds.
We immediately took the fruit to the workshop and ran the grapes through the crusher/destemmer. This yielded just over 25 gallons of must.
Due to the impact of the black rot, we decided to press earlier than normal and did on September 9, which resulted in 12.3 gallons of Marquette juice. This was placed in two 6 gallon carboys and primary fermentation was started on September 10 with the SG at 1.10 at 72°F. The juice was inoculated using two different Lalvin yeasts, RC-212 and 71B 1122, (http://www.lalvinwineyeast.com/)
Marquette grapes are moderately acidic which tend to be very manageable in the cellar. Finished wines are complex, with attractive ruby color, pronounced tannins, and desirable notes of cherry, berry, black pepper, and spice on both nose and palate. As a red wine, Marquette represents a new standard in cold hardy viticulture andenology which makes it a good choice for our part of Indiana.
Primary fermentation continued through the remainder of September and both carboys were racked on the 25th. The SG had dropped to 1.000 in Carboy#1 and 0.998 in #2. Approximately 200 grams of wood chips were added to #2. Both were racked again on October 9 and November 2. The oak chips were replaced both times in #2. The next racking occurred on January 10, 2015and all chips were removed. The carboys were left untouched in a darkened area of the basement and maintained a ~55°F until March 3 at which they carboys were moved a warmer section maintained at =/-70 °F.
The latest racking was on April 20, 2015 and the wine was tested to determine if malolactic fermentation had occurred on its own. The chromatography determined that MF had not started on its own, so we are now preparing to get MF started.
The 2014 Marquette harvest ultimately resulted in 30 bottles of wine. It was submitted to the 2015 Indy International Wine Competition but received varied ratings and did not medal.