By Rachel Dotson
AUGUSTA, Mo.–Trellis systems are a significant to winemakers, something wine trail enthusiasts may not think of as they sip on the terrace. Trellis placement helps the fruit absorb sunlight, protects against disease and allows mechanical picking during harvest. This translates to better wine in the glass. For Tony Kooyumjian, owner of Augusta and Montelle Wineries in Augusta, Missouri, high trellises are best for two reasons–one is to prevent frost damage.
“The higher up the vines are, the warmer (they are) going to be,” Kooyumjian said. “Sometimes when I come back out to the vineyard after we have had a cold episode in the spring, the grass will be frost bitten, but the grape vines are untouched.”
Kooyumjian, whose roots run deep in the winery business, starting from his grandmother who grew grapes in Armenia and later in California, says the second reason is to accommodate the French American grape varietal’s downward growth pattern. Kooyumjian said these vines grow in an opposite pattern to vinifera grape vines, which grow up.
“This way they umbrella out and down and form a nice canopy,” Kooyumjian said. “If we have done everything right, the canes will stop growing about a foot off the ground.”
Also running along Augusta Winery trellises are black tubes for irrigation, which Kooyumjian counts as an insurance policy.
“Which we don’t use very often,” Kooyumjian said. “But when we need it, we need it.”
If the trellis system has done its job in helping the grapes become large, firm and sweet, sometime around August 20, for his white seyval blanc grapes, Kooyumjian’s team will be in his fields harvesting.
To visit Augusta Winery’s tasting room at 636-228-4301.