Channing Daughters Winery Vineyard Plantings
Our six separate vineyards on our Bridgehampton farm were planted from 1982 to 2007. The varieties planted in each block represent the development of Channing Daughters from Walter Channing’s first experiments to our emerging interest in Italianate grape varieties to a fascination with complanted multi-variety blocks and wines to a reversal from single clone plantings of Chardonnay to the inter-planted 10 clone blocks of today. All in pursuit of complexity and deliciousness and reflection of our place.
Channing Experimental Block — 1982 — 1.0 acres
Walter’s original planting of one acre of vines in 1982 was part dream and part experiment. It was about half Chardonnay, with a mixture of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon making up the rest. The half-acre of 33 year old Chardonnay is the oldest remaining vineyard block on the South Fork and forms the backbone of our top of the line, full on Burgundian-style Chardonnay, L”Enfant Sauvage. The remainder of the block has been re-planted to Dornfelder and Lagrein, two earlier-ripening, terrific grape varieties.
Sculpture Garden Vineyard — 1987 — 3.2 acres
Originally planted to Merlot in 1987, the Sculpture Garden has become a complanted vineyard with subsequent inter-planting with Blaüfranksich and Teroldego, of Austrian and Italian heritage. This site is relatively flat and the soil type is classic Bridgehampton Silt Loam, making the Merlot very happy with enough available water during the growing season, as it hates dry soils. We make both our Sculpture Garden red blend and our Rosato di Sculpture Garden from fruit picked in mid-October from this block.
Scuttlehole VineyarD — 1991 — 6.0 acres
Planted to Dijon clones 95 and 96 in 1991, this Chardonnay block is on the rise starting at Scuttlehole Road and descending toward the winery and the flatter Brick Kiln Vineyard. This block is planted on a Riverhead Fine Sandy Loam soil that is fairly gravelly, especially as one travels south to north toward the road. This soil is much more common on the North Fork of Long Island, and is shallower and drier than the Bridgehampton soil. This causes the soil to warm up earlier inn Spring, the vines to bud out earlier and ripen a little earlier. Eventually we re-thought the simpler two clone planting and inter-planted from 8 feet to 4 feet between vines with 8 others clones of Chardonnay, selected from around the globe. Of course they are all originally from Burgundy but the genetic diversity created by slight mutations over time gives each clone a slightly different aromatic, acid and sugar profile. This planting goes into the making of both our Scuttlehole Chardonnay and the more complex, oak-inflected Clones blend.
Brick Kiln Vineyard — 1991 — 4.0 acres
The Brick Kiln block is also planted originally to Dijon Chardonnay clones 95 and 96. The flatter soil is Bridgehampton Silt Loam, but contains a slight twist with a distinct 8 inch thick vein of blue-grey clay about 30 inches into the soil profile. This gives the soil a different character than other soils, with mineral differences and rooting differences. It is this clay layer that led us to call the block Brick Kiln, which is the road that ends at Scuttlehole Road just to our Northwest. There is a reason that for the name and it has everything to do with another local road---Clay Pit Road. These veins of subsurface clay were mined to make bricks at the local kiln for the Village of Sag Harbor nearby. Grapes from this block are used for among other wines, our Brick Kiln Chardonnay.
Sylvanus Vineyard — 1999 — 10.0 acres
The Sylvanus planting is actually a complex of four sub-blocks. Two acres of the namesake vineyard, which is the complanted “Sylvanus Vineyard”, a field-blend of Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, and Muscat Ottonel. The wine named Sylvanus is produced from this block. Moving from east to west, a hill up to 20 feet high emerges and diagonally crosses the landscape. This produces sites within sites for the 1.5 acre Blaufrankisch/Dornfelder block, the 3.0 acre Tocai Friulano block and the 4.0 acre complanted Mosaico block composed of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Muscat Ottonel, Tocai Friulano and Chardonnay. Fruit from this last section is used to produce the wine of the same name—Mosaico. Each of these blocks are composed of gently sloping sections of Bridgehampton Silt Loam and hilly Riverhead Fine Sandy Loam, adding complexity because the different degrees of ripeness and grape character at harvest from different soil types.
Home Farm Vineyard — 2007 — 3.0 acres
It has long been a dream to get additional Northeastern Italian red grape varieties into the ground and in the bottle. When we procured an additional 4 acres of land we ordered some Lagrein and Refosco del Pedunculo Rosso and planted it to the south of the new building site. On a Bridgehampton Silt Loam similar to the Brick Kiln site, the vines have done well. Lagrein consistently making very delicious and unique red wines and Refosco truly excellent Roses, year in and year out.
Some Vineyard Facts
Vitis vinifera (the European wine grape) grapevines are woody, perennial, deciduous vines that in “nature” would grow upward on trees. Their fruit would be eaten by birds and the seed in the grapes would shat out into nature encapsulated in their own fertilizer, with a chance to become a viable new vine. However, due to sexual crossing between male and female flowers, these new vines wouldn’t be identical to the mother vine.
Our Vitis vinfera vines are propagated by the use of dormant cuttings taken during the winter. The new vines are clones of the grape variety that was the “mother vine”. A cutting taken from a Chardonnay vine has the identical DNA to the mother vine and will therefore become a Chardonnay vine.
All of our vines (and most in the world) are grafted vines with the Chardonnay (scion) grafted onto an American rootstock. This is to prevent the Chardonnay vine from being damaged and killed by the root louse Phylloxera, which is native to North America and was inadvertently transmitted to Europe with vine plant exchanges. Since the American vines “co-evolved” with Phylloxera, their roots are more or less resistant to its attacks.
Our trellising/training system is call the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) system and is used widely in modern viticulture around the world. It relies on pairs of “catch wires” to trap the upward growing shoots in place and keep them upright against the pull of gravity. The system is convenient for grooming the vines into vertical hedges, allows easy leaf removal around the fruit, and easy harvesting by hand.
The key phenological points in the growing season are Budbreak (first week in May), Bloom ( 2nd to 3rd week in June), Veraison (2nd to 3rd week in August), and Harvest (last week in September through October).
The climate on the South Fork is slightly cooler than on the North Fork due to the prevailing southwesterly breezes coming off the cool Atlantic Ocean. By the time the moving air gets to the North Fork it has warmed up from its passage over land and the warm Peconic Bay. However, the differences are relatively small but can lead to higher acids in ripe fruit grown here in Bridgehampton compared to the same grape variety grown in Riverhead.
At this early time of the year we can already see the flower clusters on the shoots of the vine. The clusters are formed on the 2nd to 5th node of each shoot growing from a bud that developed on a green shoot last year. Each shoot will have from 1-3 clusters on it and will develop at the basal part of the shoot. The shoot itself grow upward from the inside out, so the first leaves and clusters are left behind as the shoot grows upward.
Each vine will produce more shoots and clusters than we need, so this time of years we thin the shoots down to 3-4 shoots per linear foot of row. Each cluster will weigh between 0.25-0.40 lbs/cluster, depending on the variety and growing season. Pinot Grigio clusters are usually about 0.25 lbs/cluster while Chardonnay will come in at about 0.35 lbs/cluster. We generally yield about 3 tons of grapes per acre of vines. Each ton of fruit will produce 55-60 cases of wine. It takes about 3 lbs of fruit to make one bottle of wine.