Monday, December 29, 2008

Pruning Lot 11

this past weekend, gerald taught me how to prune and train the two year old vidal vines in lot 11 to the cordon wire. its the best type of work possible: its both physically and mentally engaging—each vine is quite different, so the work is never quite routine—and when you are done, you can look down a row and say, "i did that!" plus, the vines look clean, sharp, and autere and the rows have a feel of discipline to them.

the work was not the easiest of work, tho. i was very conscious of my lack of experience and was worried i would make a wrong cut or break a cordon. gerald is a gracious teacher—very patient, always ready to stop work to answer a question or to weigh in on a choice i was about to make. it had to be hard, since it took him away from work himself. pruning the vidal went a bit like this:
  1. assess the vine structure and determine which of the possible cordons you will keep. you only need two.
  2. trim back the cordon vine, snipping where the vine's diameter is the thickness of a pencil and right before an unwanted bud. this gives the last bud that you do want a fighting chance and also tells you if that cordon is alive. which you want to determine before you brutally snip off all of the remaining, unwanted cordons.
  3. strip the vine of the extraneous shoots, leaving the straightest cordon, possible.
  4. train the cordon to suck it up and grow as upright as possible. we do this by straightening the cordons and then securing them to a bamboo pole that is secured to the cordon wire.
  5. cross the cordons across each other, making as small of a V as possible. that's tricky. the cordons didnt often want to be trained in the given direction. they were stiff from being dormant and they are thick. one needed to have a firm, but gentle hand in shaping the cordons to the wire. i followed gerald's lead very closely. sometimes i wasnt sucessful or too fearful and he would have to come back and rework the vine a little bit. it became better as it went on.
  6. review the vine and admire it. snip off any old dead growth that was missed and move on to the next vine.
as we pruned, gerald pointed out the pruning at the bottom of the hill where uncle pete (ec pete) was working. uncle pete had remarked to him that while the work wasnt hard, physical labor, the thought and the shaping does where him out. by the end of the day, i knew exactly what uncle pete was talking about.

i know gerald was happy to have us out in the field with him. i love to work with him in the vineyard, especially in lot 11. its a big, sweeping field, with big sweeping work. we were able to prune 2 and 2/3 rows of the vidal, working from 10am til 4:30. this was the longest period of time i've been able to work in the field. ger was gunning for 3 rows, but boy2 is still small and rather tender. the boys are good sports, always, working and playing next to us, attempting to build tree houses by themselves, playing with each other and napping in the truck cab. but done is done. sunday, gerald worked in the wine room, racking the 08's and making me taste very green wine while i struggled to find just the right typeface for the port of leonardtown winery.

the best part of saturday was talking to gerald—planning and dreaming and laughing and teasing with each other. and then gerald took us out to arizona pizza for dinner and that was the best part—eating and relaxing with the family. and then we went home and that was the best part—gerald laughing at me in the all pink flannel pyjammies the boys bought me for christmas...with the bonus headband.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wine Fest Great Fun for All
way back in october, gerald volunteered to participate in wine-making demos for Wine Fest, held at the Sotterly Plantation. the link above tells you all about it, plus ger is featured in several of the photos in the accompanying slide show at the end of the article. he is a handsome guy, that one.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Postcard from the Sabbatical

we're a little too sick, a little too tired to check up on this, but we believe half-way through the harvest and on into november, the little blog machine postings sputter stops until sometime in december. this break is a little longer than previous years (all two), but we are still all about the vineyard and producing wine.

ger is working the wine, getting a jump on the pruning, and is preparing for the great april planting—tentatively called rootstock'09. i'm polishing the port of leonardtown winery logo, discovered the joys of twittering, and recently finished my ethics class. boys1&2 are doing great—learning to read, playing the trumpet, making gingerbreadhaus, finishing football, and PLAYING Wii!

merry christmas and happy holidays to all! ger and i raise a glass of prosecco to you all.

i hope you are all blessed in your lives as we are with ours. visit soon!