July 28, 2013

Maine Gardener: For fruit lovers, it's downright grape news

By TOM ATWELL

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Melchiskey has grass -- or in some places vegetables grown by a CSA farmer who uses his property -- growing between his rows of grapes, but he heavily mulches the soil around the grape vines themselves. He uses no other fertilizer.

"Using mulch has reduced my problems with all kinds of pests," he said.

Melchiskey said he tells his grapes are ripe by the color of the seeds, not by the amount of sugar in the grapes. He said grapes grown in Maine will never produce enough sugars to make flavorful wine, and he has to add sugar -- a process called chaptalization, common in some wine-growing regions throughout the world. "We call it Chateau Domino," he said.

The white he served was off-dry but flavorful, in a style if not the flavor of German whites. The red had a light and flowery flavor.

Melchiskey said he has about 2 acres planted, and hopes to have 5 acres planted eventually, just for efficiency of operation -- and so he can make a little money.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

 tomatwell@me.com

 

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