Michaud Estate Wyoming Vineyard
We planted a little vineyard on our 100+ acre farm on April 20, 2019, with the help of friends and family. Our little Wyoming vineyard is located about 6 miles west of Pine Bluffs. That's about a half-hour east of Cheyenne. The vines should come into good production in 2023. A bumper yield could be about 100 cases of wine. We'll keep you posted!
Inter-Specific Hybrid Grapes
Grape growing in Wyoming can be challenging. Between the cold winters, short growing season, and constant wind, grapes are hard-pressed even to survive. Thanks to Elmer Swenson and several northeast universities' efforts, there are now grapes that can be grown in Wyoming. Now, it's still impossible to grow vinifera (classic European) grapes in our climate like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The grapes we can produce are hybrid crosses between European grapes and American grapes. Viticulturists have spent the last half-century breeding these varieties to make excellent wine and still survive -30F winters. The selections we made for the first planting are Marquette, Itasca, and St Pepin. Marquette will give us a deep red wine with hints of plums and chocolate. Itasca makes a fruity white wine with pronounced notes of pears and melon. St Pepin is a crisp white wine very similar to Riesling.
Planting The Grape Vines
We planted 300 grape vines on April 20, 2019. Thanks to the small army of friends and family helping us, we were done before noon!
The First Growing Season
So far, all 300 of our vines are alive and growing. Despite our unusually cold summer and late Spring, the grapes are doing quite well. Since this is their first season, we won't mess with them much. They need to focus all their energy on growing strong roots. Next year we will focus on getting one central trunk to reach the top of the trellis and start growing down the trellis wire.
The training system we will be using on our grapes is called a "high wire cordon." Unlike a traditional "mid wire cordon," most vinifera use, the high wire cordon grows from the top down. This is because Inter-specific hybrid grapes like what we grow in this part of the country grow downward, unlike their European cousins who like to grow up. This training technique takes a little while to get started because the vines have to grow up relatively high before getting started. Our trellis wire is six feet tall. Once we have the grapes well established, they won't have any trouble growing from the wire to the ground every season. Hybrid grapes are overly aggressive growers.
Let the waiting game begin!