New Use for IDY: Increasing Phenolics as a Foliar Spray

What if your wine grapes had the brix levels of ready-to-harvest grapes, but didn’t taste or smell ripe? With warming trends across the globe, this scenario may become increasingly problematic for those in the many areas of the US that have less than idyllic weather patterns.

A new product from Lallemand called LalVigne Foliar Spray, an organic yeast derivative, which is applied at veraison, may be the ticket to increasing phenolic maturity in these more difficult growing areas. In the USBevX 2017 conference session entitled: Vineyard Trials: Lalvigne – Foliar Spray for Increasing Phenolic Maturity in Wine Grapes, panelist and representative for Scott Laboratories, Megan Hereford, hopes to convince wine grape farmers of the spray’s potential worth.

Inactive Dry Yeasts (IDY) are often used to try enhancing the phenolics of wine before or during fermentation, with little available justifying evidence. A compelling set of studies from various locations in Europe, South Africa, and now the US show promising results using IDY as a foliar spray. 

“So far we’ve done trials in Virginia, Oregon, California and Maryland”, cites Hereford. “Our best results in all of the trials was in a 2015 Napa Cabernet. The winemaker was able to pick the treated grapes five days earlier than the un-sprayed vines.”

Hereford acknowledges that Napa doesn’t normally have the weather fluctuations that other parts of the country may experience, but even there, the spray provided a benefit. She suggests that wine grape growers can think of it in this way, “It is more like an insurance policy, especially in areas that have less than perfect weather.” 

The USBevX 2017 session will feature samples of wine made from treated and non-treated vines. In conjunction with the Winemakers Research Exchange of Virginia, the trial took place at Tarara Winery, in Leesburg, Virginia on their 2016 Merlot.

Hereford recounts, “Tarara has a tunnel sprayer, and so there is no drift. We sprayed every other row for a controlled study. Then we harvested every other row separately, so there would be no block to block differences.”

Both wines were vinted in the same manner, with the same parameters for each group, and the same yeast. Says Hereford, “We’ll have a 2016 Merlot for everyone to taste. In blind samples with the vineyard manager and winemaker, there was a stunning difference between the two.”

The juice sample analysis will be available, and the panel will present the findings while the crowd can sip the sample as well as the control wines. Winemaker Jordan Harris of Tarara Winery,  Mark L. Chien of the Oregon Wine Research Institute, and Denise M. Gardner with Penn State University, will join her on the panel.

George Christie, president of Wine Industry Network, the producer of the USBevX conference, is excited about this session and what it brings to the table. “We are seeing new products coming to us with actual taste trials. This could have a real impact on wine quality.” 

Lallemand says this foliar spray is to be applied when the grape cluster is at 5% veraison, then again 10-14 days later. Inexpensive to use, they hope it will find a place in the US market.

With a theme of The Quality Revolution, and geared toward the East Coast wine industry, USBevX 2017 will take place in Washington DC, from February 22-24, 2017.

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