Vineyard Update | A Visit From Dr. Tony Wolf

Today, Dr. Tony Wolf stopped by the vineyard to check on one of his experiments. For those of you not familiar with our state’s Viticulturist, Tony has an incredible resume: A Master’s in Horticulture from Penn State, a Ph.D. in Viticulture from Cornell and is currently the Director of, and Professor at the AH Smith Ag Research and Extension Center of Virginia Tech.

Every year at the Virginia Vineyards technical conference I’ll run into someone from outside Virginia that says “Do you have any idea how lucky you guys are?” referring to Tony and his gang of researchers supporting Virginia grape growers. There are many who should share in the pride of the industry’s growth over the last 30 years but Tony and his crew are high among them. Our neighboring states just don’t have Tony and we do.

Tony came to see row 26; the row we call the Virginia Tech row. It contains 97 vines of Petit Verdot on 101-14 rootstock planted in 5 gallon mesh bags. These “root restriction bags” are part of test being run here and at 2 other vineyards that have vigorous growing conditions. The goal is to retard the growth of the vine. Less growth means less hedging, less leaf pulling, shoot thinning, etc. i.e big labor savings. Earlier tests have yielded smaller vines with excellent fruit chemistry.

It may take several years to discern the benefits or drawbacks of root restriction. In the interim, we have Tony and his researchers checking in on us and we get to help support the guys that support us. An all-around good deal!

- Tayloe