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Vineyard reports great grape harvest in 2013

By Staff | Oct 4, 2013

BRIANNA GRAPES hang thick and lush on Richard Black’s vines in Farnhamville on Sept. 11. “These are so sweet,” Black said, “they’re almost good enough as table grapes.”

By LARRY KERSHNER

“mailto:kersh@farm-news.com”>kersh@farm-news.com

FARNHAMVILLE – Richard Black, a vineyard owner in the southeast corner of Calhoun County, was ecstatic and irritated.

The bad news on this Sept. 11 harvest day of grapes was that he needed more pickers than he could get to harvest his La Crescent and Brianna grapes and shipped to King’s Crossing Vine-

yard and Winery in Glen- wood before the day’s temperature climbed too high.

DAVE HAYES, of Lohrville, places a bucket of Brianna grapes in a cart during a Sept. 11 harvest in Farnhamville. Vineyard owner Richard Black is operating the tractor.

The good news, however, was that Black was experiencing one of his best harvest ever from several of his varieties – 10 tons of grapes from his 3-acre vine- yard.

The Brianna, La Crescent and St. Croix were abundant, sweet and full of juice.

Black said he wrapped up

harvest on Sept. 19. It was a good year.

“We had good yields,” Black said. “Our mature vines have roots deep enough to find moisture.”

RICHARD BLACK, of Farnhamville, pours a bucket of grapes into a 4,000-pound storage bin on Sept. 11. Black said he’s had some of the best yields this year, especially his St. Croix variety.

Last spring’s heavy rains were soaked up by the vines, said Dave Hayes, of Lohrville, one of Black’s key vine workers.

He said within hours of key vine workers. He said within hours of

several May deluges, the ground surface around the 3-acre vineyard was dry.

“And it’s paid off in filling the grapes,” Hayes said.

A week earlier, Hayes said the winery was excited over the quality of the St. Croix grapes from Farnhamville.

“They said they were the best St. Croix that winery had ever seen,” Hayes said.

Black added: “They were the best St. Croix that ever came out of this vineyard.”

Mike White, the Iowa State University viticulturalist, said similar harvest results were reported around the state.

White said that Black operates his vineyard on the basis “of doing it right.”

Black has the only commercial vineyard in Calhoun County.

“It’s a relief to have the harvest over,” Black said. “All summer you worry about diseases and pests.”

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