Research & Innovation
Decades of discoveries.
Winegrowing is a romantic business. There is much to love about creating a delicious wine that can be shared with family and friends. But it takes solid science to be innovative and continuously improve on quality. The scientific method was ingrained in Paul Sr. during his oenology and viticulture studies at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France. This process of keen observation, continuous questioning, testing of hypotheses and acting upon results has provided Château des Charmes with many cutting-edge techniques and products. Here are a few examples:
- Gamay Noir ‘Droit’
- Savagnin Icewine
- Chardonnay Musqué using Clone 809
- Cold protection with wind machines and hilling up at least 18”
- Under drainage located 3’ east of each row
- Hedging vine canopies to 5’
Hilling up after the harvest. Hedging the canopy to 5ft.
As Paul says, he never does anything in the vineyard or in the cellar without first investigating the possible outcomes. One of the challenges in winerowing is this meticulous experimentation can take 10 or more years to reach conclusions. That’s a long time to find out your idea doesn’t work! But we don’t let that stop us. Several of our ongoing experiments were started over 15 years ago and we are now just starting to see actionable results. The next time you visit the winery ask about the experiments taking place in the backyard.
Here are a few of our more in-depth ongoing projects.
High Density Planting
- Additional row between two standard rows
- Space between vines reduced by 50%
- Burgundian style of planting
- Does adding “stress” to the vine by making it compete harder for nutrients and water create better grapes?
- Not enough room for tractors to work the land in between rows so this planting method requires significant hand labour
- Quality of the fruit appears to be improved but it is unclear if it is enough to justify the significantly higher costs
Lyre Canopy System
- Photosynthesis is the process whereby the vine creates sugar and flavouring compounds in the grapes
- By splitting the canopy is there more leaves exposed to sunlight to increase photosynthesis and therefore grape quality?
- Does the split canopy increase airflow to reduce rot and pests thereby reducing the need to spray?
- Initial results seem to indicate there is not more photosynthesis and air flow is not noticibly improved thereby not justifying the higher costs in maintaining the system
New Grape Varieties
- More than 1000 new vitis vinifera species were created by crossing established varieties; ex. Pinot Noir X Gamay Noir
- Trying to identify commercially viable grapes with interesting taste profiles that reach full maturity every year in our climate
- Now 10 years into the project and more than 50% of the new varieties have been eliminated as not worth pursuing
- One cross of two red varieties has lead to a very interesting and unexpected result of producing red offspring one generation but the following generation is white, then red then white etc.
- Currently making experimental lots of wine from the white offspring to check taste profiles
- Many more years of work left in this project before we decide on the top five or six new varieties to plant in enough volume to make wine for sale