33. End of the Season and Plans for Planting
Next April (2019) we will be receiving 6,000 replacement vines to add to our 500+ surviving vines from this years planting. Due to learning, we are setting things up a little differently this time. We will be receiving four separate shipments of vines, one to be planted each weekend in April. (6th, 13th, 20th, 27th) This will help us to minimize the time between the vines arriving and putting them in the ground. The irrigation system will be ready ahead of time rather than scrambling last minute to get it set up. Also, we plan to have all the wooden stakes put in beforehand, one for each vine to be tied to.
Four separate planting weekends means there are four opportunities to come help us plant grape vines! I know there were lots of people that weren’t able to come for the first planting that wanted to, so hopefully everyone who wants to will be able to make it to one of the weekends this time. For information about planting, travel and accommodations, please refer to this post from last year’s planting. If you want to come plant with us send me an email, instagram, etc.
The leaves on the vines are changing color and starting to fall as our first growing season at Alta Marfa is coming to a close. It has been fascinating to watch the activity in the vineyard change from month to month since we planted. It was quite nerve racking at first, apparently every bug and its mother wants to munch on our grape vines. First the flea beetles, then the giant grass hoppers/locusts then the hoards of fuzzy black and green caterpillars. My first instinct was, “oh no! we have to do something,” to intervene, to save the vines from being nibbled on. I called a new friend who has actual experience and knowledge with vines and expressed my alarm. His advice was excellent and gave me new perspective. By building a deer fence, clearing the cactus, mowing the grass, digging holes, planting vines and irrigating those vines we have created a huge disturbance in what had been a stable ecological system. The vineyard will need to find a new balance. It will take time, and unless the vines are going to die, better to just observe and see what the vines can handle and let the system right itself.
Katie and I recently felt very privileged to be able to visit one of our favorite wine producers, La Clarine Farm, in the Sierra Foothills AVA. (El Dorado County, CA) We spent a long weekend punching down fermentations with our feetsies, petting goats and generally learning a ton! Hank and Caroline made us feel so welcome and we had a wonderful time. If you haven’t tried their wine yet I highly recommend that you go get some!