Monday, February 21, 2011

Pruning in Winter

There's no alternative. When you have over 1200 vines, you have to start in the dead of winter in order to get them all pruned before the buds swell and everything starts to grow. The buds are fragile in the early spring and can easily get knocked off as you wrestle with the canes and determine what to cut off and what to leave in place. We had a ridiculously nice couple of days last week and I started pruning the Sabrevois vines last Thursday. Wow, what a change. It was in the upper 20s today and the wind was blowing pretty hard. Greg had the day off and I wrapped up work around 2:00 and we headed out there. It was gray and gloomy, and just plain cold. We finished a partial row and tackled a second one in the course of about two hours. It went pretty fast with both of us working. We have a total of 23 rows with between 60 and 64 vines per row. At that rate we shouldn't have any trouble getting the pruning done well before the buds start to swell.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Um, hello???

It's alive!!! I'm performing CPR on my vineyard blog and hope you will check in to see how things are going. Quite a hiatus, huh???

Well, it's February 17th and 68 degrees. I don't really know what to say about that and I know it's a tease. We're a long way from spring but I can feel it in the air!!! We have ice in our forecast for next week but today it feels like June. It was absolutely gorgeous today. I took the opportunity to get started on some pruning while I didn't have to dress in six layers and wear gloves, which are a PITA when pruning. I had a sweat shirt over my t-shirt when I got out there but had to take it off before I even started pruning because it really was that warm.

Our vines are dormant right now but all of them need to be pruned so that the new shoots and growth have someplace to grow, and the grape clusters, which form on one-year-old wood, will be located in the part of the trellis where they're supposed to grow. Otherwise, the whole trellis would be one big tangled rats nest of old, unproductive wood, dead winter-killed shoots, and who knows what else. We've had a pretty decent winter compared to the last few years.

We've still got a couple of months to go before we're out of the below-freezing overnight temps but we seem to be coming out of the extremely cold weather. We did not have the bone-crushing cold temps this year that we've had for the last three years, and based on what I saw in the vineyard today, things look really good. We also did not get as much snow (to date) as we have the last several years, so hopefully we won't have to face as much mud up there this year. Fingers Crossed!!!

The warm temps should be hanging on through Saturday and it is supposed to be sunny so although all of the snow has melted and its a muddy mess outside right now, it should be a really nice weekend to get a big jump on the pruning. It's very time consuming but one of the most important things to do, and do right if you want to grow good winegrapes. It's extremely windy today so that should help things dry out a little.

The sheep are still in the front pasture where the barn is located, and we'll be moving them back out to the vineyard sometime in mid to late March so they can get a jump on the weeds. In the meantime, they hang around in the barn eating hay and roaming around their front pasture. Their wool coats are long and I'll be scheduling them to be sheared sometime in early April. I have 12 of them now, 6 black and 6 white. I'll be sending the best of the fleeces out to a processor to process into yarn. I took a knitting class this winter and learned just enough to play around with it.

I'm also taking a beekeeping class on Thursday nights and I'm going to start with two hives in April and see where it leads. It's absolutely fascinating and we have plenty of clover, wildflowers, fruit trees and, dare I say it, WEEDS, to keep them happy all summer.

I'll post some pictures of the winter vineyard this weekend, and maybe get Greg to help me do a little movie on pruning the vines.