A personal perpsective of life in our Virginia vineyard... Christine Wells Vrooman



The Eyes Have It!

One of the many surprises I have "enjoyed" by monitoring the vineyard so closely is my close encounters with critters seemingly from another planet! Pictures, being worth a thousand words, describe it all. Take a look of some of the secret life I discovered in our vines. This guy is called a Saddleback Caterpillar.

And all those needle-like projections sticking out everywhere can sting. Dreadful little creature! Never saw anything like this.

And this guy is known as a Clickbug. And he really does click loud enough to sound like someone trying to crack open a nut. Amazing!
The images below show tiny projections emerging from a leaftop,as if it was part of the plant itself. But upon further study, as shown in the second image, they actually are encasements for some type of larva that was so tiny it was barely visible. I have no idea what this larva would grow into.


Hints of Fall Abound

I can feel it, smell it in the air. I can see it along the "ever so slightly" lighter hued green ridges that roll down into distant valleys. And in the vineyard, things are settling down and I sense a slowing of activity in the vines. Autumn is around the bend.
Our vines are still putting out some new growth which is good for them, as all those new leaves will soak up the nourishment of the sun and send it down to the roots. Because of our earlier issue with Black Rot and having to remove so many of their leaves, we want to encourage new growth still. But by late September we will encourage them to slow down, to take a rest. To begin their winter retreat when all of their "life" is alseep, deep in their roots, deep in the ground, far from any brutally cold temperatures that could harm them. It is hard to believe I am already thinking and talking about winter, when it seems only weeks ago I was trying to keep my head above all the blast of summer demands in the vineyard. Time, you are a fickle friend.

The Trials Continue
We now enter our third week of field trials of our test product for the dreaded Black Rot. Come back mid-September for the report! These results will most likely determine if we can remain organic next year. I am compiling my data, recording my observations, photographing leaves and continuing to study the secret life of "Guignardia Bidwellii"!!... aka Black Rot!

Flowering Gone Wild
My wildflower meadow in the vineyard continues to thicken and send up new splashes of colors and shapes. The honeybees are happy. Butterflies and hummingbirds have found their way, especially my favorite, the Monarch. I am curious to see what perennial seeds buried this year in the meadow will emerge next year, adding to the splendor of it all, to the "multitude" of life co-habitating in this little bit of heaven.


Let The Trials Begin!!

Could this be the beginning of a new era of organic viticulture in the East? Could this product be the key to new organic possibilities? It very well could happen, but then it also might be just much ado about nothing! Only time, proper application technique and perseverance will tell.

We mixed up the first batch of our secret weapon Sat afternoon. It was a bit like blending roux into the Thanksgiving turkey juices... had to have the proper amount of solid to liquid in the proper sized container for it all to blend smoothly with my hand-held Cuisinart emulsifier! Never thought I'd be using the thing out in the vineyard, but it did the trick. We poured the liquid into the power sprayer and Berto misted the designated vines, it seemingly covered them adequately. I will photograph and document applications and observations on my Excel spreadsheet, monitoring closely for any new signs of Black Rot on the sprayed vines. I, of course, hope I will not see nary a spot of rot!! Check back soon!