Huron County took the initiative to conduct a complete climatic & soil study on the development of a viticulture industry within the boundaries of Huron County (specifically Huron Ridge). The study looked at the geological formation of soils along the Huron Ridge. It was mainly glacial sediment, similar to the soil conditions found in grape growing regions such as Bourgogne, Alsace, & Loire Valley in France. Additionally, it was concluded in the report that Huron County met an adequate number of growing degree days to successfully grow quality wine grapes.
In the fall of 2014, Dark Horse Estate Winery underwent a complete under tiling on over 20 acres of land to ensure sufficient drainage in preparation for planting our vines in the summer of 2015. Our soil is clay loam. Clay returns a lot of moisture, and vines don’t like ‘wet feet’. Tiling helps to drain this moisture and foresee the root systems down, resulting in better quality vines and protection against a drought season.
June and July of 2015, over 22,000 vines were planted in our vineyard, consisting of such varietals as:
- Cabernet Franc
- Baco Noir
- Marquette (Minnesota Hybrid).
Dark Horse plans to increase its plantings over the next few years. Additionally, we will plant 10 more acres of Baco Noir and Marquette this year (2021). We finished the tiling process for this in October of 2020.
We are currently working with Dr. Jim Willwerth, a CCOVI scientist at Brock University on his research project involving geotextiles. Dark Horse Estate Winery will be implementing a freeze protection strategy with our viticultural consultant, involving the use of geotextiles on all of our Vitis Vinifera varietals for the winter of 2016/2017.
As we are located just off of Lake Huron, our vineyard can experience a significant amount of wind activity. This can be beneficial to the canopy, as it can minimize the use of spray in our pest management program. On the other hand, it can have an adverse effect on our ability to activate our frost protection strategy. This is because it mixes up the inversion layers, preventing our wind machine from effectively bringing the warm air down to the vine. This issue prompted us to work diligently with our consultant to develop and make innovations to our frost protection program.
As a successful vineyard is driven by innovation, dedication, and resources, we hope to be the pioneers of Huron County.