This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
During the latter part of May, and in all this month (June), the growth of the vine is very rapid; and such of the young shoots as are left, after thinning out the superfluous ones, require to be tied up to the stakes carefully, that they may not be broken off by high winds. Bye straw, wet, and out to the length of about two feet, will make good ties. Some use strips of muslin, or other material (such as the threads of old coffee bags), and, when no better can be had, the stalks of blue-grass; but rye or wheat straw is the best. Take two or three straws, pass them round the branch and the stake; then twist the ends, and fasten them under the band as a sheaf of wheat is bound up. This tie is very simple, and made quick.
All superfluous shoots from the axils of the leaves, and suckers from the chain stalk or stem, should be removed with a knife, and the ends of the fruit-bearing branches pinched in, two joints beyond the last bunch of grapes. The judicious vine-dresser will soon learn to leave sufficient wood and leaves to sustain and nourish the crop of grapes, but not to permit it to be smothered by an overgrowth of either.
Light and air, to ripen the crop, is essential. Be careful to train two good canes or stalks for bearing wood next year; of course, these must not be pinched in, but let grow to their full extent, tied up to the top of the stake, and trained over to the next one.
The weeds may be kept down with the hoe or a short scythe, but ploughing or stirring the ground in the vineyard, this month, is not recommended.
Watch insects that appear to be injurious closely, and destroy them. They should never be permitted to increase in the vineyard.
Early in this month the mildew may be looked for, if it has not occurred late in May. It appears after a sudden change in the weather from warm to cold, or after heavy cold for-. Should the young grapes escape this enemy, and too many bunches remain on the vine, might be well to pinch off the weakest, leaving only about fifteen to twenty bunches on a vine. This is as much as vines of six to ten years old ought to be permitted to bear, without permanent injury to their future growth.
But little work has to be done this month, except to keep the weeds down by the plough or the hoe, and to tie up straggling branches. Train the bearing canes, for next year, from the top of one stake to the other, and cut off, with' a knife, any lateral shoots from the axils of the leaves, below the tops of the stakes; those above may be left.
It is not best to stir the earth in the vineyard deep, as that might induce " rot" in the grapes. The season for this disease is over toward the latter end of this month, or when the grapes begin to color a little.
N. B. - This season is three weeks later than usual, and the mildew (which generally appears late in May, and up to the middle of June) has, within the last week, destroyed about half the bunches on the vines in most of our vineyards; but sufficient were left (if nothing destroys them) to yield a moderate crop. Cold, wet weather, succeeded by hot and sultry days, causes mildew.
By the first week in this month - some years the last week in August - the grapes in this vicinity begin to color; then ail danger from rot is over. The crop is made. Hail-storms may injure it, but nothing else. The work, too, in the vineyard is over, except to tie up straggling or fallen branches.
Some vine-dressers cut off the ends of the branches above the tops of the stakes, to make the grapes ripen better; but this is not generally approved, as it is apt to start the fruit-buds for next year to swell prematurely, subjecting them to be injured by hard frosts in winter.
The vintage some years commences the last week in this month, but generally the first week in October, under which month the process of conducting it will be described.
To prepare for the vintage, it will be necessary to have the wine-casks, press, and all vessels requisite, well cleansed and put in perfect order. As much care and neatness should be observed in making wine .as in making butter.
N. B. - J regret to say that in all this region about two-thirds of the grape-crop has been cut off by the mildew and rot. Young vines have suffered less than old ones. In Missouri, thus far, the grapes are very fine, and free from disease.
No cultivation being required this month, it will simply be necessary to treat of the gathering in of the crop, and patting it away, which is termed, the vintage. A few extra hands will be required, and women, and girls and boys, will do as well as men. Bach hand takes to the vineyard a knife and two buckets. The bunch of grapes is cut from the vine, and all unsound or unripe berries are picked off, and thrown into one bucket, and the bunch with the perfect fruit into the other. Any bunch of grapes not perfectly ripe, should be left on the vine to ripen, which may require a few days more. The buckets are emptied into barrels, and a cloth thrown over, to keep the bees and wasps out. In the evening, the barrels are hauled -up to the wine-house, and the grapes, after being passed through a small mill, with a pair of wooden rollers, grooved, and placed three-fourths of an inch apart, or mashed in a long wooden vessel with a beater, so as to break the skins and pulp, but not the seed, are then thrown on the wine-press, and the juice pressed out and put into the wine casks, to ferment. About one-third of the Juice runs off without pressure; three or four pressings are required to extract the remainder.
The juice from the last pressing should be put with that from the refuse grapes, to make, with the addition of ten or twelve ounces of loaf sugar to the gallon, an inferior wine, which is usually sold at half price.
The pure juice from the perfect grapes requires no sugar. Fill the casks within one-fifth of their capacity, so as to allow room for fermentation. Lay a cloth over the bunghole, or put a straw stopper in, to let the gas escape, until the fermentation ceases; then bung tight. A tin siphon (one end in the bunghole, and the other in a bucket of water) is a very complete method of passing off the gas, with safety to the casks and to the wine. The fermentation generally ceases in about ten days.
After each pressing, out six or eight inches off the outside of the " cheese" (the mass of mashed grapes), and throw them on the top. When the juice is all extracted, the "pum-mioe" may be stowed away in tight casks, to give to the distillers, with the lees of the wine, to make brandy, or they may be thrown on the manure pile. As remarked last month, the press, the casks, and all vessels needed, should be perfectly clean, and kept in the neatest order. Further treatment of the wine will be noticed hereafter.
It is usual to rack off the new wine in this month. Select a clear day. Draw the wine off carefully, and put it into a cask made perfectly clean by scalding water, then rinsed out with cool water, and fumigated with a sulphur match. The lees are thrown on the manure pile, or given to the distillers with the pomace of the grapes, to make brandy. In the vicinity of a large city, the lees sell at thirty to forty cents per gallon, and the pomace at $1 50 to $2 per barrel. About five or six gallons of the former, or one and one-third barrel of the latter, will make a gallon of brandy. The distiller retains one-half for making it.
Examine the wine every week or ten days, fill up, and keep the casks bung full, and the bungs tight. Nothing else is requisite until May, when the second fermentation takes place; then the bungs are to be left loose, that the gas may escape. In eight or ten days this fermentation will cease; the casks are then to be filled up, and the bungs, with clean linen rags wrapped around them, driven tight.
This is the title of a new monthly placed on our table. It is to be devoted, according to the prospectus, entirely to the vine. It is published in Jersey City, by Messrs. Peck and Rowe. The editor's name does not appear, but it would not be difficult to guess it from the style. It is a small quarto of eight pages, and is offered at 25 cents a year; a price that will kill either the work or the publishers. We hope they may be able to battle successfully with the times, and spread "vineyards" all over the land.