Tuesday, December 08, 2009

over head netting

if you follow this blog, or you live on the east coast, or you are fan of the The Weather Channel, then you know it's been a challenging year, weather-wise, in the vineyard. Now that the growing season is done and the vines have dropped their leaves one might expect the drama to recede.
I wish I had the camera with me this weekend to post a picture of the scene after an early-season snow fall hit the vineyard before we had a chance to take down the bird netting that did such a great job of protecting our crop during veraison. It's an impressive sight: sharp daggers of posts suspend drooping netting that touch the ground in long, snow covered valleys running down the row middles.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

an update from east Pete

More work in small barn getting 2nd level ready to store rest of the lugs. Lugs on trailer to take to Charlotte Hall (hereafter CH) for cleaning. Believe they should be sqeaky clean before storing in barn. Cleaned out stall holding Pallets, now SCAG parking.

Measured corn field site of Lot 13. From north end to apple tree on south end, are in corn this year was approx 2.2 acres. As need be this could be expanded some by moving up the hill toward the house by another 25 ft. That space will provide an additional 1/3 acre and will help get out of the shade of the big Sycamores and other trees on the south east.

Charlie will call Mike R- and inform him that field will no longer be available for his use and that we would consider hiring him to help us prepare that field for grapes if he is interested. We also need to know from him what pesticides/herbicides and other amendments he may have used. We did not have time to auger various locations to test for hard pan.

Gish brothers help most appreciated.

I attended a show and tell at the POL Winery for the 5 Commissioners, town Council, County and Town Staff, MARBIDCO, AG DEV Commission etc. Very well received. Some Chamborcin must perking away in the box containers. If you stick your head in the carbon dioxide will clear the sinuses big time. Bob Schaller introduced me as a spokesman for our family and the success of Rootstock 09 that was so impressive. Also favorable mention of our crops fermenting in the tanks. The Commish knew who we were when told of vineyards on Golden Beach Rd. Pat, Rich, Caroline, Steve, James, Mary and Joe Wood, David, Chris Bologna also helped. And Steve McHenry of MARBIDCO, and Christine Bergmark of SMADC were there for the first time. A very positive session. They all want us to make very good wine! and be successful.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

there it is

ok...quick update:
We harvested 5074 lb of Vidal Blanc about two weeks ago. It came in at a solid 23 brix, with acid and pH in, what the wine maker called a "respectable" level.
As the King of Germany said to Mozart: "well, there it is."
There it is, indeed.
The first commercial harvest after six years of growing, and many prior to that in the planning and development stages.

but wait! there's more!
Queued up next is an estimated 1,000 lb of Viognier. The fruit may not have the level of sugars, but I'm impressed with how well it has held up in this very wet, very disease-prone year. Maybe it's the thick skins, but something has allowed this fruit to stay relatively clean, well past any date where it would have normally been pulled from the vine.
Beautiful stuff.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

and then, something wonderful

it kept coming. a few short weeks at midsummer the clouds tarried and the ground dried out, leaving us to think the worst was over. But, like a tide leaving the shore only to flood back, the clouds returned bringing the rains steadily every few days.
Rain. Sun. Heat. Humidity. Rain.

So here we go into our final run for the season: Harvest and crush just around the corner.
Any grower will tell you, if given only two weeks of perfect weather during the year, to have it be the two weeks before harvest.

For two days the air is dry, sunny, and warm during the day, then dropping cool at night. It's only two days, but all it takes is a string of twelve more to turn an entire season around.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

09 Harvest and Stomp Romp poster

to commemorate our first commercial harvest, i've designed a poster—and i think it may be the start of a new tradition. take a look—what do you think?

advice from the doctor

Dr Joe Fiola is the Maryland State Viticulturalist. He's a wealth of information and energy regarding growing grapes in Maryland. Below is his advice for growers on judging harvest readiness. I think anyone who enjoys wine will find his advice valuable and insightful.

  • The critical principals here are that high quality wine is the confluence of fruit derived flavor and aroma components and for red grapes also the reduction of immature tannins.
  • These do not necessarily correspond to “desired” sugar and acid ranges.
  • The highest priority needs to be the quality and quantity of varietal aroma/flavor in the fruit.
    • Simply stated, to obtain a desired characteristic aroma or flavor in the wine, it must be present in the grapes at the time of harvest!
    • By regular, continuous sampling you will learn through experience the succession of aromas, flavors and textures that each variety goes through.
    • Depending on the degree of ripeness red grape characteristics can range from green and herbaceous to fruity and “jammy.”
    • Therefore the individual sampling must be diligent to monitor for that aroma and/or flavor in the sample.
  • The next highest priority, especially for red wines, is the texture of the grape tannins in skin and the seed.
    • These quality and quantity of the tannins determine the structure, body, astringency, bitterness, dryness, and color intensity of the wine. Mature tannins are critical to the production of quality red wines.
    • The degree of ripeness and polymerization of the tannins will determine the astringency and mouth feel of your wine.
      • This can range from the undesirable, hard and course tannins of immature grapes, through to the desirable, “supple and silky” profile of mature grapes.
  • Procedure:
    • Select a few random grapes and place them in you mouth. DO NOT look at the cluster when you are choosing the grapes because you will tend to pick more ripened berries.
    • Without macerating the skins, gently press the juice out of the berries and assess the juice for sweetness (front of tongue) and acid (back sides of your tongue). With experience (and comparison against numbers from lab samples) you will be able to reasonably guesstimate the Brix and TA level of the grapes.
    • Next gently separate the seeds for the skins and “spit” into your hand. The color of the seeds gives you a clue to the level of ripeness. Green seeds are immature, green to tan and tan to brown seeds is maturing, and brown seeds are mature. Ripe seed tannins are desirable as they are less easily extracted and more supple on the palette.
    • Finally macerate the remaining skins and press them in your cheeks to assess the ripeness of the skin tannins. You will be able to “feel” the astringency (pucker) of the skins. The less intense the astringency the more ripe the grapes.
      • A good way to practice is to first sample an early grape variety such as Merlot and then immediately go to a later variety such as Cab Sauvignon, and you will feel the difference in the acidity, astringency and ripeness.
  • Of course, other factors must still be considered, such as the total acidity and pH
    • Generally you would like to harvest white grapes in the 3.2-3.4 pH range and reds in the 3.4-3.5 range, as long as the varietal character is appropriate as described above. Remember the enologist can do a good job adjusting acidity but it almost impossible to increase variety character in the wine.
  • Brix or sugar level is good to follow on a “relative” scale but levels can greatly vary from vintage to vintage.
    • In some years the grapes will be ripe and have great varietal character at 20 Brix and another year they may still not have ripe varietal character at 23 Brix.
  • Disease/Rot - Monitor to see if the grapes are deteriorating do to fruit rots or berry softening.
  • Look at the short and long range forecast.
    • If it looks good and the grapes have the ability to ripen further, then there may be a benefit to letting them hang a bit longer.
    • If the tropical storm is on the way……
    • When grapes are close to optimal ripeness, it is more desirable to harvest before a significant rainfall than to wait until after the rain and allow them to build up the sugar again afterwards.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Follow Lot11 Vidal Brix via Widgenie

ger measured the brix level of the vidal blanc in lot11. 16 brix! we're hoping the hot weather will slow the development until the Port of Leonardtown is ready to accept our first commercial crop. I've updated our widgenie widget, but i'm bothered by how widgenie reads the date in my xls sheet—what a long datastring.

son of sony camera bit the dust this past week. we're picking up another vineyard camera this week. you should see lot11—looks like a big spider with OCD settled into the acre. i thought the netting went up much easier than previous years—faster, as well. patience, patience, patience is needed when putting up that net. the more hands, the better. i think it would have went like silk if we had two more adult hands available.

any takers?

Thursday, August 06, 2009


The vineyard netting goes up this weekend.
We have two acres to cover with netting that will run over the top of all the vines so that people and equipment can get underneath and work unencumbered. We have new netting this year that is much wider than our existing stuff: It covers six rows at a time. Some feel it'll be too much to handle. I feel it will be easier to deal with than the narrower netting that only covers three rows at most.

Stay tuned for the final analysis!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

early veraison

the rains stopped, and everything dried out in July. The vine have stopped putting their energy into growing shoots and have now turned to ripening the fruit. It's so dry, in fact, that grampa has been watering the new vines in lot 12 by hand this week. It amazes me how quickly the situation can flip from soaking wet to drought in a few short weeks. I'm sure the excessively well drained soils have something to do with it.
The red grapes are already beginning to take on color, and the whites are turned from their young green to translucent yellow. All this is happening a good two weeks earlier than last year--quite a surprise to me. This season has been unusually cool and led me to think veraison would be delayed, if anything. It could be the lack of very hot days (95+ degrees) has meant the vines have been able to put energy into the fruit a lot more, rather than shut down because of the heat.
This adds an interesting twist to our expected first commercial harvest this fall: The winery may not be ready to process the grapes if they come in two weeks earlier than expected!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

growing like vines

host: This season is so wet...
sidekick: how wet is it?
host: It's so wet the cordons are growing roots! (queue laugh-track)
host: It's so wet everything is growing like vines! (queue laugh-track again)
host: Lot 11 looks like someone dropped a hundred pounds of fertilizer on it! (queue raucous laugh-track)
sidekick: Yiii-yoh!
host: The mildew has a rain jacket! (more laugh-track)
host: The ground hogs wear swim goggles!
sidekick: fertilizer...heh!
host: Seriously, though. Tomorrow, I'll be spraying the vineyard from a canoe! (and the laugh-track)
sidekick: don't forget the life jacket!
host: [quizical look at sidekick] I...[another quizical look]...I was walking through the rows today when a group of lateral shoots surrounded me. I thought they wanted my money, but it turned out they wanted to pay me to prune out a group of competing laterals. (queue raspberry-track)
sidekick: how much?
host: A vineyard manager from California stopped by the other day and said "dude, you forgot to turn off the water." (applause)
sidekick: and the fertilizer!
host: [to sidekick] careful where you step. (laughter)
sidekick: uh-oh. I need some boots. (less laughter) That's a wet season!
host: It'll take a heroic effort to produce a quality crop this year.
sidekick: you can do it.
host: [dissenting look at sidekick] Thanks for the vote of confidence. So you'll help?
sidekick: I don't drink wine. (queue laugh-track)
host: Oh, you just have a bottle collection in your dressing room, I suppose.
sidekick: I don't drink wine in rainy weather.
host laughs.
queue the band.
host: we'll be right back folks!

Monday, June 15, 2009

rocket man

This weekend witnessed the maiden voyage of the farm air blast sprayer. Its ongoing mission: To provide effective disease protection, prevention, and eradication on grapevines during the growing season. To do so in the most economical and as environmentally friendly as possible.
Improbable? maybe. A worthy goal? you bet.

So far, this sprayer has not let down.

The day started early. There was a lot of systems check necessary to get things off the ground:
tractor fueled and ready: check
shed power operational: check
water pump working: check
now hook up the sprayer and leave the bay...
easy now...easy...
baaaaaah, baaaaaaah, bah, bah...
bombom bombom bombom

Honestly, I think the whole theme from 2001: a space oddyssey is overused, but in this case I totally have a right.

Donned in coveralls and a white environment helmet complete with air-hose riding on a tractor that's pulling a grey and orange rocket. I look like an astronaut towing my own personal-size launch vehicle to the pad for lift-off.

The exercise went great! All the vines got sprayed at a critical time during the growing season where the fruit is at its most vulnerable, and the weather is doing all it can to promote disease infection.

It's a fine piece of equipment.

Friday, May 29, 2009

rain, rain go away...and come back when you can't stay so long

It's been a week of daily rains. Last weekend the Vidal Blanc was in the early stages of flowering, all the rest were a few days off. It's a critical time in the vineyard. A fungal infection in the flower at this stage can prevent the berries from setting, or can lay latent in the berries until they begin to ripen in August. At that point the fungus will wake up and consume the berry just as it approaches full ripeness.

The work continues, either way: We should be able to finish up the shoot thinning on the Viognier this weekend, and hopefully run the last catch wires in the Vidal Blanc block to begin shoot positioning. Our part timer was supposed to work by himself for the first time during the week this week putting in J-staples for the catch wires. We'll see how he did tomorrow.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

shoot thinning

Finished the shoot thinning of Vidal Blanc, and just in time! Any more time and the shoots would have been too set to easily remove from the cordon. We were able to do the job by simply plucking the extra shoots by hand, a much easier and faster task than using clippers to remove them.
The earliest varieties (Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc) are in the late stages of inflorescence development. An inflorescence is the part of the shoot that develops into the grape cluster. It contains dozens of little buds that will open into tiny flowers.
I anticipate next weekend to be the last one before most of the varieties begin to flower.
The new vines in lot 12 are doing great! It's been a wet spring with frequent rain, giving these vines a chance to grow and develop a root system. The uncut rye grass hides most of these vines. In fact, the whole field looks like a green savanna with posts. Rarely is a vine taller than the grass around it. The rye is not terribly thick, though, so a dappled light makes it through to the vines. I expect by mid summer the vines will start peeking out over the rye.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

shoot thinning

The sun decided to make a stand and drive off the gray clouds after ten days of rain and cool temperatures. During that time the soggy vines yawned and stretched. Some sending out new shoots from fuzzy buds, other extending on the green growth already started. It seemed on Saturday that every viable bud put forth a shoot, or two, or even three.
Spent the day removing the extra shoots in the proofing rows. The half acre of Viognier was a bit behind, with the shoots expressing a leaf or two, but sometimes still breaking bud. I Decided to let it go for a week.
The Vidal Blanc in Lot 11 had shoots consistently reaching the 8 inch wire. There was just not enough time to thin it. East Pete has been working it today, and I plan to be there Friday to hopefully finish the job.

Monday, May 11, 2009

walking the rows

Last weekend, after working all day on a lab build-out, and previously dedicating a lot of time and energy to getting the new vineyard blocks prepped and ready, I toured the proofing rows.
It was late in the day. The sun was just falling behind the treeline to the west, casting dappled shadows across the vineyard. The heat of the day was being lifted away by a mild breeze.
Making my way between the first rows and saw the new shoots pushing out, some putting out the first leaf, some working on the second small leaf.
I paused as the feeling of a new cycle impressed upon me. For a brief moment the rush of demands and work fell away and all was right in the world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Which of Our Whites Pair with Dandelion Burgers?

left, the townie raised bed garden sprouts dinner

Its early spring and everyone without allergies are happy, happy and i am no exception. i love green. i crave green. being originally from the mighty MO (zone 5 is NOTHING to laugh about, gents. its bitter cold, there) i am used to changes in the season and i welcome the signals of seasonal onsets. but as i grow older, how difficult late winter becomes and how i welcome spring!

after a year of eating dangerously and exhibiting the waistline to show for it, i find i want to eat spring. i want to eat fresh, green, slightly tangy—slightly bitter—above all, lean. banish stews, split pea soup in a dutch oven, pot roast with root vegetables! give me fish, asparagus, field greens....GIVE ME DANDELION BURGERS!

at this pronouncement, the swelling music should give way to a screeching of a record needle skipping across an LP (if you are younger, your ipod is just sitting there, silent)

but there is a wealth of foraging one may due in early spring and yours truly sits on the tip of the foraging iceberg, waxing eloquently about the virtues of dandelions. ehow.com offers a multitude of articles about this weed, check it out: http://www.ehow.com/how_4533673_eat-dandelion-greens-health.html or this great article: http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/kallas82.html

truth be told, it was the edible chesapeake online recipe that caught my imagination: http://tinyurl.com/c88ofx dandelion burgers? why not? at the most i've wasted some crackers and sunflower seeds. at best, i've taken care of the weeds in my townie garden.

boy2 was my companion throughout the dandelion adventure—being at that age where anything is possible and nothing is to be missed. all along, he kept a running monologue of WWMD? What Would Ming Do? comes from ming tsai's pvodcast: http://www.simplyming.org/rss/vodcast.xml which i catch on itunes and boy2 watches religiously. WWMD and boy2 corrected my onion fine chop skillz, so thanks, ming!

here, boy2 crushes the crackers for the dandelion burgers. and mixes the dry ingredients with the wet ones. the online recipe is pretty simple to follow. and since it was successful, i suggest using white beans or field peas as a binder. these burgers call out for indian spices or asian flavorings. carefully review your dandelions for little critters—we found two discombobulated ants and a tiny inch worm in our collected blossoms.

after you carefully review the blossoms and mix up the ingredients, its just a matter of shaping them into patties and giving them a fry in a heart-healthy oil of your choice. tonight i served the dandelion burgers on a bed of baby dandelion greens with grilled scallops and a condiment of thai chili sauce. oh. wow. so. tasty!

ger broke out a bottle of our 07 viognier—which was really perfectly floral perfumy and decadently round, but needs a little acid. so then he broke out our marsanne—which i am currently sipping and am contrasting against the viognier. both are not oaked, but the marsanne is spare when comparing to the viognier, has a bit more acidity and less perfume. both of our whites went perfect with our spring clean and lean meal. how content are we!

blessings upon you all—may you cultivate early spring dandelions and eat them while sipping the perfect wine pairing. may you have young babies or young at heart to go off on culinary adventures and may you always wind up at the dinner table with those you love, eating food you love and sipping wine you love.

bon appetit.

Friday, April 17, 2009

inflection point

these people came.
In pairs and groups.
Singly and together.
Some brought equipment:
tractors and augers, a post pounder.

Some came a short distance, others from very far.

We assembled in a place simply named, as if without emotion or sentiment, lot 12.

Lot 12 was plain field the morning of April 3. A gauze of winter rye beginning its spring run lent the ground some faint color. By the end of April 4 it appeared much the same way.

In the mean time these people came and dug and planted and shared and laughed.

They left behind in that field 2400 plants.
I do not know what they took with them, but there is a lifetime to find out.

In Days Past

since rootstock, we've been concentrating on getting the posts pounded into the ground in lot12. i'll try to get ger to post a pic of how beautiful and tall they are.

last weekend, ger sent me into the proofing vineyard to finish up the touriga pruning before it became too late in the season.

i looked unhappily at my previous indecision—i had left some long lateral shoots intact so ger could decide if he wanted to keep those instead of the established cordon. but there is just too much work for him to be everywhere, so he sent me back to the touriga with his confidence. and support. i wasn't any more ready to make a decision, but i went about it as best i could. when i snipped off a lateral cane, deciding to forgo a larger cordon cut, i immediately regretted my decision to wait for gerald. the snipped cane weeped copious amounts of sap—the vine was already coming out of dormancy. curiousity got the better of me and i decided to taste the clear liquid. what would it taste like? would it be sweet, like maple sap? wait, is it posionous? hee. i was able to shake several large drops into my mouth.

nothing. tasted remarkably like nothing. evidently the vines put all their sweetness into the grapeberry!

i did my best with the rest of the lateral canes and tidied up the pruned vines on the vineyard floor. then it was time to quit the farm.

this weekend, ger left early to go to the southern maryland wine growers coop meeting. i'm staying at home with boy1&2 and working hard on my final projects in: 1) macroeconomics—propose a plan to help spain's unemployment!—and 2) negotiations—a multiparty negotiation paper and a finished workbook!

while i welcome having a break with the boys, i'm sad to be without both husband and vineyard during this beautiful weekend.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rootstock Coverage

if you would like to see the official rootstock09 website, please visit: www.rootstock2009.com
[thanks, lyrel, for the putting that together!]

for those that would like to read more, please visit: http://www.somdnews.com/stories/04082009/entefea164507_32191.shtml

thanks to everyone for sending in your images, posting them on facebook and giving us your feedback!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thank you, all, for your Rootstock 2009 support!

wow! its really been difficult to put into writing how we've felt about our friends and family giving so much of their time, support, and good spirits in making sure rootstock09 was a success. ger and i've been talking about it all week—breaking out in grins and spontaneous hugs as we relive april 4th. there was a ton of prep work that the family supported these past few weeks and we'd like to express a special thanks to uncle pete, dad and uncle charlie for their support and hard work throughout the week that allows ger and his brother pete to concentrate on the vineyard and keep moving forward.

as for our friends—thanks to all of your efforts, over 2,400 vines went into 2 acres in
one beautiful day. thank you, thank you!

the weather was gorgeous but windy. 'round 6am we had 5 auger crews out digging holes—3 on trackers and 2 hand augers in order to prepare for the planting crews. thanks to our tractor crews: uncle charlie conrad, tom spooner, roger lavoie, and WCpete—our tractor drivers and our auger guiders: sam, kayleigh, and raven. special thanks to our hand auger crews: randy and mike on the two man and john fox on the single auger. hand augering requires quite a bit of upper body strength!

lot12 was soon dotted with holes ready for the planting crews. ger and pat isles [volunteer educator, maryland grape growers association/head of the facilities committee, southern maryland wine growers cooperative/vineyard manager at summerseat and all around great guy!] prepped the roots and gave the volunteers instructions as to how to plant the vines properly.

had been running back and forth all morning—coordinating the food prep and delivery with lyrel, coordinating shirts, nametags and welcoming attendees with kathleen—so when i ran up and over the hill the planting was well underway. and what a sight it was! all our good friends from college, work and the wine growing community were scrambling about the field, united in fellowship and vines. it was too much to take in, so i plunged into the planting melee and started snapping pics of everyone and thanking, thanking them. we estimate around 50 people were able to participate in the days event. it was awesome to be able to share with our friends what occupies a good portion of our lives and dreams.

special thanks goes out to bruce perrygo (maryland grape growers assoc. coordinator) and caroline baldwin (vp for maryland grape growers/southern maryland winegrowers coop) for their expertise and row management. towards the end of the petit verdot, several friends, bruce and caroline noticed we were in danger of having a few partial rows of the two different petit verdot rootstocks and the potential mixing of the barbera. i remember bruce standing in the field like a sentinel, coordinating with our planters and maintaining field order like a true general. we'd also like to thank rich fuller and his wife grace, for volunteering their time and energy to the task.

after we had a lunch, rich fuller, president of the southern maryland wine growers association gave an update to the crowd about the port of leonardtown winery and offered an investment opportunity in the winery. if you are interested in investing in the winery, please contact rich @ fullergnr@verizon.net

after lunch, we headed back into the field to finish planting the barbera. this is where i want to thank everyone again—i know its hard to work after lunch! but the bet part was the little ones, now that the tractors and heavy machinery had left the fields, were able to participate. ger and i settled into planting with our friends and later remarked how cool it was to hear the different conversations people were having as they planted. fathers and grandfathers talked with their children and grandchildren. co-workers learned a little more about each other. complete strangers laughed and shared their lives and how they were connected to this crazy enterprise. what an awesome day!

read all about our exploits in the post!


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Happy Rootstock 2009!

The day is here! We're in the wee hours right at the start of Rootstock 2009. Today over 75 people are expected at the vineyard to plant 2,400 vines in lot12. We'll plant 1,200 each of petit verdot and barbera vines. There will be t-shirts, a hot lunch, and a day of gorgeous weather for the attendees—plus those that complete the rigorous training will receive the Official Rootstock 2009 Certificate of Completion!

Thank you, friends of the vineyard for your support! Looking forward to seeing you there!

Monday, March 30, 2009


The clouds threatened all day but the rain, like a woman dressed for a most formal event and being careful as she walked, held her garment just over the wet earth. Then at twilight the fog gently fell, muffling the rush of any cars passing on wet pavement, and leaving me listening to the spring frogs peeping by the thousands after waking from a long winter's sleep.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Less than Two Weeks to Rootstock 2009!

We have been busy preparing for the big event April 4th, 2009! 2,400 vines (1,200 barbera and 1,200 petit verdot) will be planted in our lot12. as you may remember, lot12 has lay fallow 2 years after being cleared.

Gerald has been thinking, and hoping, and praying...planning and dreaming each night about his vineyard. he tackled the project plan, assigning each family member tasks needing to be done to make the event a success. we've been working diligently towards that end. we've confirmed an attendee list, installed the deer fencing perimeter, received the posts, tidied the houses, ordered our shirts, planned the lunch, got tables and chairs and marked out the field.

and that's the short list—there has been much work on the farm that's been done by dad, Charlie, ECpete and WCpete in order to help us prepare for the event. Everyone is pulling hard and we're hoping the weather will cooperate and give us a beautiful day for planting.

the pruning is now finished and i'm done with my midterms, so i'm hoping to blog a little more frequently. i missed telling you about the pruning clinic that kathleen, boy1, and i attended—let alone the annual meeting and the awesome dinner in ellicott city, md (thanks WCpete, for watching boy1&2)! ger just finished the intermediate grape growers workshop today, but i haven't heard much about it since it was class night—and immediately after dinner he set up the projector and i laid out the Rootstock directional signage.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

A good days work

The Viognier pruning is moving along nicely. The training does not have as much drama as the often brittle Vidal canes. I find Vidal Blanc canes tend to snap if pushed too far, and one must take special care not to force the would-be cordons to lie down too straight on the wire. Viognier, on the other hand, is more flexible and yields to the trainers' hand without the heart-ache of breaking off what would have been a fruitful arm.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

GER102: Pruning the Vidal

We ended up at the vineyard this weekend, instead of my parents, as i have come down sick again. second weekend in a row, but it cant be helped. i slept all day yesterday and while i felt ok enough to go down to the farm today, we got there pretty late—around 1:30-noon. ger has scheduled the lot 11 pruning to be finished within 3 weekends, so its important to be at the vineyard. with the 2 acres to be planted in april, its important to use every weekend we may.

ger gave me a second lesson in pruning the 2 year old vidal in lot 11. up until this time, i had thought that the thicker canes were the ones to establish along the cordon wire, but that's not exactly so. some of the thicker canes had more than a hand's width between bud breaks. in those instances, ger had me look at a less thick cane that shot off from the thicker cane. if the buds were spaced tighter than the thicker cane, i was to clip off (oh boy) the thicker cane and train the thinner cane along the cordon. ger said that this would give us more fruit in less space with room to grow along the cordon for next year.

my head was too thick today to really feel like i would be making good decisions, so i made the best decision of the day. i told ger i would get the vines prepped for his final decision and training to the cordon wire. this meant i would choose which canes would stay and which canes could be snipped. if i couldn't decide between a thicker cane or a thinner cane, i would leave both and strip down the rest of the canes. it most likely wasn't the most time efficient way to work the pruning, but i felt better when i didn't have to struggle bending the vines to the wire—thats a bit nerve-wrecking when i'm feeling on top of my game.

uncle pete came over to check in and help us finish the last row. they had just returned from the west coast. he said they watched bottle shock on the plane—man, i wish that movie would show up on fios on-demand, but i don't think its gonna happen.

in the end we finished two rows, with a third of a row somewhat stripped. we'll work tomorrow, as well. i think we have 9 more rows to go. ger is in the wine room, racking the 08 and the boy1&2 have just finished roasting marshmellows. i planned on making bread pudding and working on kayleigh's sailor valentine, but i'm thinking maybe its just time for bed.