UPDATE: Just before Hurricane Irma hit our state, the winegrape growers in the West Georgia area had thankfully already completed their harvest.  Vineyards in the Carroll and Haralson County areas are growing PD-tolerant hybrid winegrapes Norton, Blanc Du Bois, Villard Blanc, and Lenoir.  Blanc Du Bois was harvested back in mid-August in most vineyards, while the rest of the varieties were harvested just after Labor Day weekend.  It has been a difficult growing season due to the abundant amount of rain causing abundant disease issues and lower soluble solids (°Brix) levels. Blanc du Bois was most affected by the inclement weather when compared to the other three varieties, and losses due to sour rot were estimated to be around 20-40% in that variety. Villard blanc and Norton certainly seem to be the most disease tolerant of the four varieties.

RESEARCH FOCUS – VARIETY x TRELLIS SYSTEM TRIAL: 2017 marked the third year that hybrid winegrapes were harvested in our research plot at Trillium Vineyards in Bremen, Haralson County, Georgia.  For the last three years, our team, including University of Georgia and Westover Vineyard Advising from Texas, has been collecting data on the growth and performance of the above-mentioned hybrid varieties on three trellis systems.  The three tresllis systems that each variety has been evaluated on are the Watson, Vertical Shoot-Positioned (VSP), and Geneva Double Curtain (GDC). Preliminary results and anecdotal evaluation suggests that Lenoir produces extremely well on all trellis systems while others faired less than optimal on VSP.

Harvesting grapes on the Geneva Double Curtain Trellis system

Our team’s favorite trellis system to-date is the Watson system – all varieties tend to produce economical crops on this system, and it is extremely easy to manage when compared to GDC. This coming winter, we will analyze all of the data and make recommendations of optimal trellis system options for each variety based on crop yield and quality parameters.

Harvesting Blanc Du Bois grapes on the Watson trellis system

We look forward to sharing our conclusions sometime in 2018.  We appreciate the support we have received from the Specialty Crop Block grants through the Georgia Department of Agriculture in helping us conduct our research. We also extend our sincere gratitude to Bruce and Karen Cross and the whole team at Trillium Vineyards for letting us occupy their space in benefit of the whole Georgia grape and wine industry.

We also wish the absolute best of luck for a successful harvest to the rest of the bunch and muscadine grape producers throughout Georgia and the southeastern US.

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