Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Raley has oats sown in the fields this Spring. They're growing up tall and green and lovely. The vineyard season is in full swing now. Buds began to break early April during a warm spell. There was one night that came close to 32 degrees, and that was all we've seen of old man winter since. The weeds threatened to get ahead of us, but judicious control measures have put them in check and have allowed us to concentrate on the vines. Current focus is on shoot thinning: our pruning efforts this past winter were informed by a year's experience and it shows. We have many more shoots on each vine this year, and can now go through the vineyard picking just the right density for the season. Once we have the vines down to 4-6 shoots per foot of cordon we'll begin the task of positioning each shoot to grow straight by taping it to the lowest catch wire, which is located about eight inched above the cordon wire.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

100th Post! New Vineyard Planting

yes! we are still here. i won't make my excuses, as you already know: grad school final project, strep throat (me and boy2), life, life and more life. here is a link to my final project wiki: Collaborative Nonprofits. i recommend using wikispaces for any project. i'm a total convert.

back to the vineyard.

it was a typical blustery april day, threatening to burst into tears or sunshine at any moment. uncle pete, gerald, a friend of the farm, had spent the morning digging holes with the auger and preparing to plant. ger then prepared the rootstock for the planting session. he poured this clear mixture of something and water into painter buckets. it had gruel-like consistency and it protectively coated the rootstock to keep them from drying out. uncle pete and fof (friend of farm) started planting the vines and ger picked up the boys and i from the farmhouse, where i had been working on my final project. we headed out to the proofing, east and west vineyard with the rootstock in buckets and planted 225 vidal, viognier, and nebbiolo vines. i wish i didn't have a no child photo policy, as boy 1&2 found a mud puddle and the ensuing mayhem was captured digitally. the boys ended up wearing the entire puddle and the men wished i had been their mother, as they said they were not allowed to get so muddy growing up. which i dont believe for a moment. i didn't mind it as long as the shoes were off. muddy shoes are the worst. but the boys were satisfied.

we filled in the holes from viognier vines that didn't make it in the west field. we planted nebbiolo in the place of the shiraz, which had suffered crown gall. ger and fof loaded the hand auger into the back of uncle pete's truck and we headed east, to lot 11. once there, uncle pete drove the truck with the hand auger back and forth and wherever there was a dead vine, they would stop, pull out the hand auger and drill a hole. i followed behind, planting the vines as i went.

there was some back and forth between the three men as to how to break it to me that my planting skills were lacking. something about fear, or not wanting to make me mad, or what, but i have no idea where they would get that idea from my general sweet and demure disposition. uncle pete, being a military man or having drawn the short straw, was sent to negotiate a truce for a battle that never happened, and once i was given a refresher in proper planting, i went about fishing among men again. the day was long, but nice. that hand auger is heavy, i can attest. i helped ger drill several of the last holes and it was hard on the shoulder i dorked up earlier in the year. i made a mental note to get into the doctor and more importantly, start working out again. the farm work has always been easier when i'm used to physical labor.