31. Patience (Part II)
This post will bring the blog up to the present day.
When I woke up in the morning, the light confirmed everything I had seen the night before while fumbling around in the dark. It was hard to estimate and I didn't have time to count, but I would say at least half of the 6,000 vines that we had planted a few weeks before were displaying no sign of life at all. There were thousands of brown, dry sticks sticking out of the ground and in between, scattered puffs of green. It was a strange mix of suuuuuuper disappointment due to the apparent mega-failure, and extreme excitement and pride at seeing the little green vines that were alive.
There is a fairly long list of possible reasons why the survival rate was so low (possibly lower than 25%), when the expected survival rate when planting a vineyard would normally be greater than 90%.
-The vines had a slightly longer trip in the Fedex truck than vines normally would (due to the vineyard being in the exact middle of nowhere), this could have caused the vines to arrive at Alta Marfa already in a drier state than would normally be the case
-Once off the truck we piled the vines in the shade rolled up in a tarp. During this time and for the next few days during planting it was extremely windy and the relative humidity was below 10% (extremely dry)
-We trimmed the roots and then soaked the vines' roots in water before planting them. The vines could have had their roots soaking in water the whole time between the truck and the ground, rather than just 24 hours or so before planting
-The soil is extremely rocky. In many cases, the "soil" used to fill the holes once the vines were put in was nothing more than rocks and loose gravel
-The well used for irrigation produces a limited amount of water, the vines certainly could have used more water in their already vulnerable state
I'm sure the ultimate cause was some combination of these, but ultimately they all add up to not knowing what you are doing and just going for it. Failure = Learning
We will replant the vines that don't survive.
This was without a doubt the most spectacular storm I have ever seen. As I stood in the vineyard, processing what all the dead vines meant and trying to figure out what to do next, I watched the clouds approach. It started raining so hard that all I could do was huddle in the tent and try to go to sleep in the premature darkness. The lightning kept me up most of the night. Violent storms are great for reminding us that we are small and don't matter. This might not sound comforting, but it is, because it also means problems like dead vines also don't matter.
Allllllsssoooo, Katie, Eilis and I (and Alta Marfa) were on TV! It's a beer show where we spend the whole time talking about growing grapes! You can see it here, its pretty goofy !