Tag Archives: Augusta Winery

Soil and organic matters

By Devon Yarbrough

AUGUSTA, Mo. — It all started 10,000 years ago when the last continental glacier stopped in what is now known as Augusta, Missouri. By bringing fine silt with it, the glacier made the soil in Augusta the perfect place for wine grapes. Augusta Winery Owner, Tony Kooyumjian, is circling back to that beginning by focusing on healthy soil for breeding grapes with as little intervention as possible.

Kooyumjian, drove up a steep hill of endless trellis rows keeping the grape vines orderly, unlike the grasses below them. Kooyumjian explained they planned to let the grass clippings add to the organic matter at the vine roots. Henbit, a purple weed, would also loosen the soil to help the vines get nutrients.

According to Penn State College of Agriculture Sciences, grapevines need several nutrients, which can be derived from the soil or fertilizers. Some of the key nutrients that come from the soil are nitrogen, phosphorous and sulfur.  Soil testing and pre-plant testing is typically done every 3 to 5 years. However, Kooyumjian says they test their grapes before harvest every winter at the University of Missouri enology lab to review the plant components.

The lab tests for macronutrients, micronutrients, pH, organic matter and base saturation. The winery uses these lab results partly to see how much minerals need to be placed back into the soil. Kooyumjian says they tend to replace the sulfur and phosphorous every year and add pomace or winery waste, such as grape skins and seeds, to the soil to improve nitrogen, amino acids and other goodies.

Kooyumjian says that quality is important to the winery and although soil is only a part of the winemaking process, it is crucial to producing the healthy grapes that lead to great wines.

soil

Healthy grapes start with healthy soil. Photo courtesy of DIY Network

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Clotheslines for grapes: trellises

By Rachel Dotson

Trellis_Dotson

Grape vines hang off wire trellises like clothing on a clothesline at one of Augusta Winery’s seval blanc grape fields in Augusta, Missouri. Augusta Winery, established in 1988, produces about 42,000 cases of wine per year.   Photo 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.

 

 

 

 

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