32. Back in the Game
At the time of the last blog post things obviously were not great. The fact that most of the 6,000 vines that we had just worked so hard to plant were dead was definitely hard to swallow. Things are looking up though...
We will have new vines for next year!
We had been in conversation with the nursery we sourced our vines from, trying to figure out what happened, and discovered that a few other Texas vine orders had experienced similar issues. The nursery believes the packages of vines were mishandled during there freight journey across the country. The nursery graciously accepted responsibility and will be replacing all the vines at no cost! What a relief! We were determined to replant but were not sure if we would have the money to buy vines for next year and may have had to wait a few years, which would have further delayed our first vintage.
Due to different vine availability we will be receiving test patches (25 vines each) of a bunch of new varieties, which we did not plant last year including: Tannat, Sagrantino, Aglianico, Souzao, Carmenere, Cinsault, Dolcetto, and Grenache. Very Exciting!
We are looking forward to planting again next spring, but until then we have about 550 vines that ARE growing!
Katie and I have put in steaks for about 75 vines so far. We got these hardwood stakes from a mill in Pennsylvania. We originally had ordered steel T-posts for each vine (6,000 posts = 48,000 lbs of steel) but our order kept getting delayed and they were reaaaallly expensive so eventually we decided to cancel the order and go with these cheaper untreated wood posts.
Some of the vines are even getting tall enough that we have tied them up to their posts with twine.
This is an experiment in soil management in the vineyard. There is an area of the vineyard where the soil is very bare and there is almost no grass because the drilling rig that drilled our well drove over it and compacted the soil. The sun beats down on the bare soil and turns it into concrete and nothing grows. Then when it rains the ground is so hard that the water runs off in sheets rather than soaking in. These straw bales were spread out into a 3-4 inch thick layer that will hopefully protect the soil form the sun and keep rainwater in place long enough for it to soak in and allow the grass to grow again.
Here is a little video I made showing the transformation of Alta Marfa over the past two and a half years.