Vineyard Sprays to Improve Ripening in Merlot (in collaboration with VT) (2017)

This study examines the impact of different desiccation sprays on the resulting juice and wine chemistry of Merlot. 8 rows of Merlot from the same block were divided into 4 pairs, each pair of rows receiving a different treatment. The following treatments were performed: 1) Control (no spray), 2) RG 1950 spray in collaboration with Dr. Mizuho Nita, where rows were sprayed 4 times weekly, over four weeks, starting from veraison, 3) VT Tech Dehydration spray in collaboration with Dr. Bruce Zoecklein, where rows were treated on the fruit zone at approximately 19 degrees Brix using a 2% solution of methyl esters of fatty acids in a 2% solution of potassium carbonate in water, and 4) Sugar Express (Miller Chemical) Spray (4-10-40 Nitrogen-Phosphate-Potash), where rows were treated on the full canopy at approximately 19 degrees Brix at 10 lbs/acre. All other viticultural and winemaking practices were equal. Grapes were harvested on September 20, after processing musts were inoculated with D21, and each fermentation received a 16 day maceration. The two VT sprays had the greatest impact on Brix and Average Berry weight during ripening. Fluctuations are due to rain events around September 2 and September 6. The VT sprays produced juice with higher Brix, although the Zoecklein spray had higher TA and the RG 1950 had lower TA. Wine chemistry showed higher ethanol for these two sprays, higher TA and tartaric acid for all three sprays, and lower levels of lactic acid. Color intensity was increased by the desiccation sprays. Anthocyanins were slightly lowered for the VT sprays, although polymeric anthocyanin was increased for these sprays. Tannin showed slight increases for these sprays as well. These phenolic differences, however, were not very great.

Overall, the desiccation sprays had a tendency to lower the Herbaceous character of the wines. Overall Aromatic Intensity and Body tended to be increased by the Zoecklein spray, although RG 1950 also had a slight tendency to increase Body. These two sprays also had a slight tendency to increase Fruit Intensity, although this was weak. In general, the control wine was more similar to the Sugar Express treatment, and the two Virginia Tech desiccation sprays were more similar to each other. Preference trends were hard to determine, but the Sugar Express treatment tended to be less preferred. The two Virginia Tech desiccation sprays were perhaps slightly more preferred control when considering that these two wines were fairly similar to each other. These results suggest that desiccation sprays may be a valuable tool in Virginia winemaking, and studies like these merit more rigorous analysis, especially with regard to sensory attributes of the wines. These studies should be continued to be repeated, on multiple varieties over multiple vintages.

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Vineyard Sprays to Improve Ripening in Cabernet Franc (in collaboration with Bruce Zoecklein) (2017)

This study examines the impact of vineyard desiccant sprays on grape ripening and wine quality in Cabernet Franc. A block of Cabernet Franc was divided so that part of the block was backpack-sprayed with a desiccant spray (2% solution of methyl esters of fatty acids in 2% solution of potassium carbonate in water) provided by Bruce Zoecklein. The spray treatment occurred when the grapes had reached approximately 19 Brix (September 22, 2017) and clusters were coated until dripping with spray. Grapes were harvested on September 28 and were processed identically. Wines were pressed after 11 days of maceration. Cluster weight, total anthocyanins, and tannin were decreased in sprayed fruit. Brix was increased and acidity was decreased in sprayed fruit as well. Alcohol and potassium were higher in the sprayed wine, and acidity was lowered. Color, tannin, and polymeric anthocyanin were also higher in the sprayed wine, in spite of opposite trends being seen in this regard with the grapes. Overall, these wines were found to be significantly different. There was a tendency for the desiccated wine to have higher Body. Desiccated wines had a slight tendency for higher Acidity and Astringency, and lower Fruit Intensity. However, more sensory studies are needed to confirm these trends. There may have been a very slight preference for the non-desiccated wine. In the future, more studies should be performed on fruit desiccation, as it has potential to be a useful tool in Virginia grape growing. These studies should include the timing of desiccation sprays before harvest.

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The Impact of Different Leaf Pulling Treatments in Cabernet Franc (in Collaboration with Cain Hickey) (2017)

This study examines the impact of different leaf pulling regimes on ripening in Cabernet Franc. Grapes received either: 1) No leaf pulling, 2) Standard leaf pulling (leaf pulling before mid-June on East side of vine), 3) pre-bloom leaf pulling (May 17, both sides of vine), 4) post fruit-set leaf pulling (June 2, both sides of vine), 5) Mechanical leaf pulling (May 26, post fruit-set, both sides of vine), 6) bagged clusters (July 22). Grapes were harvested on the same day. All other treatments were identical. Mechanical Leaf Pulling and Post-Fruit Set Leaf Pulling had the smallest average berry weight (no data is available for the bagged clusters). Pre-bloom leaf removal saw the greatest increase in average berry weight, but this was not significant when compared with No Leaf Pulling and Post-Fruit Set. Yield per vine was significantly lower on the pre-bloom leaf removal compared to No Leaf Pulling and Post-Fruit Set, but Brix was significantly higher. This yield difference likely resulted from the significantly lower cluster weight in the Pre-Bloom treatment, as well as the lower number of berries per cluster and the lower number of clusters per vine found in the leaf pulling treatments. The Pre-Bloom and Post-Fruit Set treatments spent much more time at critical temperatures between 35-40°C than the No Leaf Pulling treatment, due to greater exposure of the grapes. The Pre-Bloom treatment was overall cooler than the Post-Fruit Set treatment, possibly because of the decreased berries per cluster and thus looser cluster architecture allowing for better air flow and cooling.

Leaf pulling always increased tannin, quercetin, and anthocyanin concentration in grapes, with the greatest concentration of tannin in the Pre-bloom Leaf Removal and anthocyanin and quercetin in the Post-Fruit Set Leaf Removal. Leaf-pulled juice tended to have less malic acid and lower YAN. In general, TA and color was higher in finished wine with leaf pulling, with the greatest increases seen in post-fruit set leaf pulling. Caftaric acid, gallic acid, quercetin, tannin, and anthocyanin were generally increased by leaf pulling, with the most profound differences found in pre-bloom and post-fruit set leaf pulling. Bagged clusters showed much lower color and tartaric acid.

Due to the complexity of this project, the Mechanical Leaf Pulling and Bagged treatments were not tasted. Overall, descriptive results for these wines were inconsistent between tastings. Wines which had received leaf pulling were generally more preferred by judges, with preferences generally being for early leaf pulling regimes. This study should be repeated several times in order to further validate these results. It should also be performed on different grape varieties, at different sites, and on different trellising systems. More rigorous descriptive work should be performed on these projects, as well.

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The Impact of Bloom Leaf Removal vs Veraison Leaf Removal (2017)

This study examines the impact of leaf pulling at either bloom or at veraison. The goal was to have looser clusters and smaller berries from pre-bloom leaf removal. A block of Cabernet Sauvignon (planted 2006) was divided so that every other row was a different treatment. One row had the four-most basal leaves removed at 30% bloom (mid-May), exposing the entire fruiting zone. Continuous passes were made to ensure fruit zone exposure throughout the season. Every other row had leaves removed at the start of veraison, in mid-August. Grapes were harvested and processed at the same times, and all other vineyard and winemaking treatments were identical between treatments. Each wine received a 6-day cold soak, and 25 days of total maceration. Grapes from prebloom leaf removal had lower TA, malic acid, and tartaric acid, with a similar pH to the control. Tannin was higher in grapes with pre-bloom leaf removal, but anthocyanins were lower. Pre-bloom wine chemistry was similar except for slightly lower acidity. Color intensity and tannin was also slightly increased in the pre-bloom wine, although these differences were not very pronounced. For the triangle test, of 19 people who answered, 6 people chose the correct wine (32%), suggesting that these wines were not significantly different. In general, of those who answered correctly, no preference trends could be seen between wines. For the descriptive analysis, there were no strong trends for the descriptors used in this study. Most descriptive results were mixed, but Pre-bloom leaf pulling may have had slightly lower Acidity and higher Body. It also may have had slightly less Herbaceous/Green  character, but these trends were weak. These results suggest that pre-bloom leaf removal may not always have as large of an impact as is often seen. This practice should be performed more at different sites, on different varieties, and in different vintages (perhaps rainier vintages which may benefit more from this kind of leaf pulling regimen). 

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The Impact of Crop Management Timing on Wine Quality (2017)

This study examines the impact of the date of cluster thinning on juice and wine chemistry. The goal was to attempt to dilute the impact of potassium uptake during veraison by cluster thinning at later dates, in order to keep the pH lower. A block of Cabernet Franc was cluster thinned either pre-veraison (around Mid-August), halfway through veraison (around the end of August), and post-veraison (first or second week of September). Every third row received one of these treatments, so that treatments were evenly dispersed throughout the block to minimize variation. All grapes were harvested on the same day, and all other treatments between each juice and wine lot were identical. The later the clusters were dropped, the higher the average berry and cluster weight. The later the clusters were dropped, the lower the Brix and phenolic compounds. YAN was slightly higher in later cluster thinning sweeps. In general, wine made from later cluster dropping had slightly less ethanol, and slightly higher TA and tartaric acid. Color intensity was decreased with later cluster thinning, as were most phenolic compounds. Thus, earlier cluster thinning tended to enhance grape “ripeness” characteristics. For the descriptive analysis, there was a strong tendency for the 50% veraison treatment to have higher Herbaceous/Green character (LSD=0.43). There was a slight tendency for this wine to also have higher Bitterness. Pre-veraison cluster thinning may have had higher Fruit Intensity. Post-veraison cluster thinning may have had slightly lower Overall Aromatic Intensity and Astringency. In general, the wines which were cluster thinned at 50% veraison were most preferred. These results suggest that the beneficial impacts of cluster thinning prior to veraison on chemistry may not be beneficial towards flavor profiles. However, this study should be repeated over multiple vintages, at different sites, and with different grape varieties to better understand how this timing of cluster thinning affects a Virginia appellation.

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The Effect of Canopy Area on Ripening and Wine Quality (2017)

This study examines the impact of canopy height and ripening on wine quality in Merlot. Three sets of five rows of Merlot were hedged to different heights in mid-June: 52 inches (High canopy), 44 Inches (Medium canopy, normal height), and 36 inches (Short canopy). All other vineyard treatments were identical. Not much additional shoot growth occurred after hedging. Grapes were harvested on August 25 and processed into separate T Bins. All other treatments were identical. Juice Brix was slightly higher for the short canopy compared to the higher canopy. This may have been due to a seeming resistance to rain dilution seen in the short canopy vine compared to the medium and higher canopy vines. The ethanol, TA, color, and tannin increased with decrease in canopy height, and pH decreased with canopy height. Overall, descriptive analysis had difficulty distinguishing the wines consistently. The short canopy treatment tended to have slightly more Bitterness and Overall Aromatic Intensity. The short canopy wine also exhibited some slight reduction relative to the other two wines, which may have influenced results. Fruit Intensity and Astringency tended to vary between wines between tastings. In general, the high canopy wine tended to be the most preferred. Future studies should examine how bud fruitfulness and yield are impacted by multiple vintages of heavy hedging, pick fruit at different times depending on which treatment is deemed “optimally” ripe, and hedging shoots when they reach their designated height to try to force lateral growth. More studies are needed to confirm the trends seen in this study, as well.

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The Impact of Bagging Grape Clusters on Grape Ripening and Quality (in Collaboration with VT) (2017)

This study examines the impact of bagging grape clusters during the growing season on grape and wine flavor, chemistry, microbiology, and phenolics. The vineyard uses organic grape growing practices, and the goal of this project was to see if bagging grape clusters would improve disease resistance without negatively impacting grape and wine quality. The bags used were 19x27cm white paper bags with micropores. Corot Noir grapes in one block experienced 4 treatments: 1) not bagged, 2) bagged at pea-sized berries, 3) bagged at berry touch, and 4) bagged at veraison. Because of a prediction of reduced disease incidence in bagged clusters relative to unbagged clusters, and because unbagged, rotting clusters were going to be dropped during the season, green harvesting of the treatment clusters was undertaken on lagging blooming clusters at berry set in order to attempt to keep crop levels similar between treatments. Lagging clusters were also not bagged on treatment rows. Control and treatment grapes were harvested 2 days apart from each other, and the 3 treatments were combined into one must to ferment. Both control and treatment musts received a 10% saignee, both were inoculated with Renaissance Ossia yeast, and all other treatments between wines were equal. Both bins received 2 weeks extended maceration. Bagging clusters might have reduced incidence of black rot, with the earlier bagging treatments being more effective; however, more intensive work is needed to confirm this. The grape treatments generally exhibited slight increases in berry weight and cluster weight, as well as increases in malic acid, pH, and YAN. Juice and wine chemistry was not much impacted, except that acidity was lowered in the bagged treatment. Bagging clusters lowered the microbial content of the juice, although wine was not much impacted. All phenolic and color parameters, in grape and wine, were either reduced or did not change as a result of bagging. 64% of people were able to distinguish the wines in triangle testing, suggesting a statistically significant difference between them (p<0.001). Of those who correctly distinguished between the wines, there was not a major preference for one wine over the other, perhaps slightly favoring no bags. There were strong trends for the unbagged treatments to have higher Overall Aromatic Intensity and higher Acidity. There was a slight tendency for Fruit Intensity to be higher in the unbagged treatments as well.

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Harvest Decisions Based on Grape Phenolic Development (Enartis) (2017)

This study examines the ability to judge when grapes are harvest-ready by monitoring phenolic development over time. Cabernet Franc grapes began being sampled weekly starting on September 1 for a number of chemical and phenolic parameters. Enartis then made a harvest recommendation for September 22 (First Pick) based on comparing phenolic and chemical profiles over time. This decision was based on declining anthocyanin and phenolic values occurring in the grapes, with a desire to pick while these values were near their peak. The winemaker monitored grapes based on in-house chemistry values, seed coloration, and hang time, and picked another portion of the block on October 4 (Second Pick). Because the chemistry was different between juices, the second pick juice received more tartaric and malic acid additions. All other treatments were the same, except for a possible non-addition of Lafase HE Grand Cru to the second pick must. Wines were pressed off after 18-19 days. Grape ripening tended to follow classic ripening curves, exhibiting increasing Brix and a positive sigmoidal pH ripening curve. Average berry weight and water content peaked and then declined, due to dehydration. Phenolic content tended to peak and decline as well, and this occurred after the berry weight and water content began to decline. The first pick, based on phenolic ripeness, had lower alcohol. The differences in lactic acid may have been due to different malic acid additions between treatments. The first pick wine had slightly higher tannin and anthocyanin and much higher quercetin glycosides, but slightly lower color. However, this wine received Lafase HE Grand Cru, whereas the second pick wine may not have received this enzyme. This may have altered the results in this regard. Overall, sensory analysis suggests that these wines were significantly different. There tended to be a preference for the earlier picked wine, but this preference was tasting-dependent. Descriptive analysis was inconsistent between tastings, and no conclusions can be drawn with regard to this. Due to this inconsistency, this study should be repeated multiple times to help gauge the impact of picking based on phenolic parameters on sensory qualities in wine. Additionally, the use of Lafase HE Grand Cru in one wine and perhaps not in the other could have further confounded these results, suggesting that this study should be repeated. However, the idea behind this technique of monitoring ripening may serve to be a useful guide to picking in Virginia, to harvest while phenolic levels are maximized before they begin to decrease.

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The Impact of Agrothermal Systems Heat Blast Treatments on Grape Ripening, Wine Chemistry, and Wine Quality in Virginia (2017)

The aim of this experiment was to determine measurable differences of grape quality by utilizing Heat Blast technology used to treat wine grapes. A block of Petit Manseng was divided into two separate sections. One section was treated with heat blast delivery to the canopy and fruiting zones using an Agrothermal Systems XT heat system. The other section was not treated with this technology. The treatment block was treated 1 to 4 times per month depending on stage of growth, with the treatment regime starting around veraison. The majority of treatments were near veraison. Chemical spray regimes were the same between treatments. All other vineyard and winemaking treatments between grapes were equal. Acidity and potassium was slightly lower in the heat-treated grapes. Quercetin and tannin slightly increased in grapes, whereas catechin slightly decreased. Wine chemistry was not very much affected except for lower malic acid levels in the heat treatment. The tannin content of wine with heat treatment was slightly higher for most compounds. Overall, these wines were not found to be significantly different. There was a very slight tendency for the Control to have higher Tropical Fruit intensity, Fruit Intensity, and Body. No major preference trends could be seen between wines. In the future, more studies should be performed with Agrothermal heat treatment and its impacts on fruit chemistry. These studies should look into multiple grape varieties, as well as closely monitor disease progression. The use of Agrothermal heat treatment in conjunction with different vineyard spray regimes should be investigated as well. Although more studies are needed to confirm this, these preliminary results suggest that heat treatment may be a beneficial tool for East Coast viticulture.

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Leaf Pulling on One vs Two Sides of Petit Verdot Vines (2017)

This study examines the impact of leaf pulling on one vs both sides of the vine in Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot vines (clone 400, planted 2012, 9x4 spacing, ESVC/CW index of 2.4) from the same block were split so that all vines received leaf pulling on the east side at flowering, and one portion of the vineyard received leaf pulling on the west side as well at veraison. Grapes were harvested on the same date, and all winemaking practices were identical between treatments. Must was inoculated with D80, Enzyme CX was added, punched down twice per day until fermentation was complete, and then switched to one punchdown per day during extended maceration (25 days maceration time, total). Juice chemistry was similar between treatments, although leaf pulling on one side resulted in higher alcohol content and lower acidity. Color and anthocyanin were not much impacted by treatments. Seed tannin indices (catechin, epicatechin, and gallic acid) may have been slightly lowered with leaf pulling on both sides. Tannin may have slightly decreased by this treatment, as well. The sensory results suggest that the two wines were significantly different. No strong trends could be seen for the descriptors used in this study,  although Acidity seemed to be lower in the one sided leaf pulling wine. No major preference trends could be seen between treatments. This study should continue to be performed over multiple years, in different regions, as well as on different grape varieties.

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The Effect of Timed Nitrogen and Sulfur Sprays on Sauvignon Blanc (2016)

This study examines the impact of timed Nitrogen and Sulfur sprays on the sensory and chemical attributes of Sauvignon Blanc. A mix of Nitrogen and Sulfur sprayed at 20% veraison and at 50% veraison were applied to 2 out of four segments of a vineyard block. The other segments were unsprayed. The grapes were harvested and processed identically. After racking off of gross lees, the lees were harvested, combined, and centrifuged to create a centrifugate juice (a mix of the lees from the control and sprayed grapes). No major chemical differences were found between the control and treated juice and wines, except that pH was slightly higher. The sprayed wine had a slightly higher level of 3-MH. However, the wine made from the combined lees centrifugate had the highest level of 3-MH and lower levels of 3-mercaptohexylacetate. Additionally, this wine had a longer lag phase during fermentation compared to the other two. Judges were generally able to distinguish between the unsprayed and sprayed treatments, and there was a tendency for the sprayed treatment to be preferred and the centrifuged treatment to be least preferred. The sprayed wine had slight tendencies to have higher Overall Aromatic Intensity, Herbaceous/Green character, and Varietal Character. There were slight trends for the centrifuged wine to have lower Tropical Fruit and Varietal Character than the other treatments, and higher Herbaceous/Green character. These tendencies were all very weak, however.

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The Effect of Leaf Removal at Bloom vs Leaf Removal at Veraison on Ripeness (2016)

This study examines the impact of removing the 4 most basal leaves from Cabernet Sauvignon vines at 30% bloom. One section of a vineyard block was not leafed at bloom, while another section underwent this leafing treatment. Both treatments received leaf-pulling at veraison. All other vineyard and fermentation practices were the same. Leaf removal at bloom appeared to slightly reduce berry weight, cluster weight, Brix, and yield. Grape phenolics and TA were slightly increased by bloom leaf removal. Wine produced with leaf removal at bloom had lower ethanol, color intensity, and tannin. Judges did not find the wines to be significantly different, and there were no strong preference trends for either wine. Early leaf removal may have had a very weak tendency to increase Overall Aromatic Intensity. The lack of differences are likely due in part to the particular vintage (weather events may have equalized the treatments) and in part due to vegetative growth reducing the effectiveness of the bloom leaf removal. More studies need to be performed in this area in order to draw more conclusions.

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The Effect of LalVigne Mature Foliar Spray on the South Side of Merlot Vines (2016)

This study examines the impact of LalVigne Mature Foliar Spray (ScottLabs) on ripeness and the chemical and sensory qualities of the South side of Merlot vines planted East-West. Every other row of a block of Merlot was sprayed at 5% veraison and 10 days later following the LalVigne spray protocol with a tunnel recycle sprayer, allowing for a treatment of sprayed Merlot and a treatment of unsprayed Merlot. Both treatments were harvested only from the South side of the vine (afternoon side) and processed identically and on the same day, but kept separate. All other treatments between projects were identical. The LalVigne spray slightly decreased tannins and anthocyanins in the grape berries. Caffeic acid was higher in wine from grapes treated with LalVigne. Tannin was also increased in wine from grapes sprayed with LalVigne, but anthocyanins were decreased. Triangle sensory testing revealed no significant differences between wines, and there was no strong preference for either wine. The sprayed wines tended to exhibit greater Fruit Intensity, but this was not a strong tendency.

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The Effect of LalVigne Mature Foliar Spray on the North Side of Merlot Vines (2016)

This study examines the impact of LalVigne Mature Foliar Spray (ScottLabs) on ripeness and the chemical and sensory qualities of the North side of Merlot vines planted East-West. Every other row of a block of Merlot was sprayed at 5% veraison and 10 days later following the LalVigne spray protocol with a tunnel recycle sprayer, allowing for a treatment of sprayed Merlot and a treatment of unsprayed Merlot. Both treatments were harvested only from the North side of the vine (morning side) and processed identically and on the same day, but kept separate. All other treatments between projects were identical. The LalVigne spray slightly increased tannins and anthocyanins in the grape berries, but lowered cluster weight (although not berry weight). Anthocyanins were decreased in the wine from grapes treated with the LalVigne spray. Triangle sensory testing found significant differences in the wines (p<0.05), although there was not much of a preference for one wine over the other. No major descriptive sensory trends can be seen.

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The Effect of LalVigne Foliar Spray on Cabernet Franc (2016)

This study examines the impact of LalVigne Foliar Spray (ScottLabs) on ripeness and the chemical and sensory qualities of Cabernet Franc. Every other row of a block of Cabernet Franc was sprayed at 5% veraison and 10 days later following the LalVigne spray protocol with a tunnel recycle sprayer, allowing for a treatment of sprayed Cabernet Franc and a treatment of unsprayed Cabernet Franc. Both treatments were harvested and processed identically and on the same day, but kept separate. All other treatments between projects were identical. The LalVigne spray slightly increased phenolics in the grape berries, but lowered cluster weight (although not berry weight). The LalVigne spray also increased YAN in juice. No chemical or phenolic parameters were very different in the wine. For the triangle test, of 20 people who answered, 12 people chose the correct wine (60%), showing a statistically significant difference between wines (p<0.05). These wines were voted to have an average degree difference of 4.2 (out of 10) among those who correctly identified it, suggesting that the wines were moderately different. In general, people who answered correctly had no preference for one treatment over another. There were no strong trends with regard to the descriptors used in this study.

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The Effect of Desiccation Spray on Ripeness in Chambourcin (2016)

This study examines the impact of a desiccation spray on the chemical and sensory profiles of Chambourcin grapes and wine. One block of Chambourcin was divided so that one section of fruit was sprayed with a potassium bicarbonate desiccant, and another section was not sprayed. The desiccated fruit was sprayed at the beginning of veraison and then weekly for a total of four sprays over four weeks. The fruit was harvested and processed on the same day, and all treatments between the fruit were identical. The desiccation treatment slightly concentrated berry components, although not many differences were found in wine. The desiccation treatment, however, lowered the color intensity and slightly lowered the tannin and anthocyanin content in the wine. Other parameters were not greatly affected. At one tasting, the wines were found to be significantly different (p<0.05), and in general there was a preference for the wine made without desiccation. At another tasting, there was no significant difference between wines, and no major preference trends. More studies on desiccation across vintages would be beneficial to further elucidate the impact of these treatments in Virginia.

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The Effect of Crop Adjustment and Desiccation Spray on Ripeness (2016)

This study examines the impact of different crop adjustment techniques on yield, juice and wine chemistry, phenolic and color profiles, and sensory characteristics of Merlot. The four treatments in this trial were performed in the same vineyard block as follows: two control rows, two rows sprayed with RG 1950 desiccant spray, two rows with clusters dropped at veraison down to one cluster per shoot, and two rows with clusters pinched at approximately 20 Brix. All other treatments, through vinification, were the same. The desiccation spray exhibited faster ripening kinetics and lower average berry weight. At harvest, Brix and pH were not very different, but TA was higher in the treatments. No differences were apparent in wine chemistry. All treatments exhibited increases in color intensity, especially the cluster dropped treatment. In spite of increasing color intensity all treatments lowered anthocyanins. The desiccant treatment slightly increased tannins. The week before harvest, 6 inches of rain fell, which may have reduced the impact of these treatments. Overall, desiccation and crop reduction had a slight tendency to enhance Fruit Intensity. The treatments also tended to enhance Overall Aromatic Intensity. These trends were weak and often conflicted between tastings. There seemed to be a general preference for wines produced from dropped clusters and desiccated clusters, but this varied. The rain event may have reduced the impact of these treatments. This study suggests that crop adjustment techniques have the potential to impact fruit and wine quality in Virginia, but much more studies are needed to fully quantify this impact as well as to account for vintage variation.

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The Effect of LalVigne Foliar Spray on Chambourcin (2016)

This study examines the impact that LalVigne Foliar Spray (ScottLabs) has on the ripeness of Chambourcin grapes. Lalvigne was sprayed at 5% veraison and then 7-9 days later on a 2 acre parcel of Chambourcin at the recommended rate. Control and treatment grapes from the same block were harvested and processed on the same day, fermented separately as 1.5 ton lots in T Bins, and all other treatments between fermentations were kept the same. A third treatment was also added, were 75 pounds of Tannat skins were added to LalVigne-treated grapes at the beginning of fermentation. Although ripening kinetics between each treatment were similar (data not shown), anecdotally, the sprayed berries exhibited more color development. Juice from LalVigne-treated grapes exhibited higher nitrogen numbers (except lower ammonia). Wine produced with Tannat skins added had lower alcohol and pH (58% increase in proton concentration). In general, grapes treated with LalVigne showed increased color intensity and increased amounts of phenolic compounds. The sprayed grapes showed a large increase in Malvidin glucoside but a slightly lower count of monomeric and total anthocyanins. Tannat skins added to the LalVigne sprayed wine showed a smaller increase in color intensity, a larger increase in catechin, epicatechin, gallic acid, and tannin, and a decrease in anthocyanin content. For the triangle test, of 21 people who answered, 9 people chose the correct wine (43%), suggesting the wines were not significantly different. In general, people who answered correctly had a slight preference for the sprayed wine, but this preference was very weak. Descriptive analysis did not show many trends between wines. The control tended to have slightly lower Overall Aromatic Intensity to the sprayed wines, and the wine with Tannat skins seemed to have higher Fruit Intensity. The LalVigne spray wines tended to have slightly higher Herbaceous/Green scores, except for the wine with Tannat added.

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Surround Crop Protectant Trial with Petit Verdot (2014)

Petit Verdot that received heavy leaf pulling was either sprayed or not sprayed with Surround Crop Protectant in the fruiting zone in order to prevent sunburn.  No chemical, phenolic, or sensory differences were found in this study, suggesting that Surround does not negatively impact finished wine quality.  However, this year was a relatively light "sunburn" year at this vineyard, so the true impact of Surround may not have been adequately quantified.

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LalVigne Mature Foliar Spray with Virginia Merlot (2014)

This study examined the chemical and sensory effects of LalVigne Mature Foliar Spray on finished Merlot wine.  There were no chemical differences in the grapes that were harvested in this study; however there were significant sensory differences between the final wines.  People tended to prefer the wine produced without the spray.

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