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



And How Is the Vineyard?

Last Year, This Year
It was fortuitous that we finished the pruning before the spring lambs came along.  This is the first year we have had both to tend to, and it would have been nearly impossible to do equal justice to either had they been upon us together.

Perhaps I have forgotten, but I do not remember a time last year when there wasn't something urgent that needed tending to in the vineyard.  But this year, it feels different, like we are actually one step ahead of the game!  Looking back, it was about this time of year when we first discovered the rust colored spots (Black Rot!) on many of the leaves.  Within a couple weeks, they were everywhere, and this all happened in the midst of our daughter's wedding.  It's no wonder I felt we would never catch up.  We did not spray a chemical for the Black Rot.  We pulled as many leaves as we could and hauled them away.  But as you know, this year we will have our first crop and we cannot afford to lose it, so "a spraying we will go"... but only the bare minimum.  We continue to spray our Biodynamic preps, add our compost and generally treat the vineyard as an organic, sustainable organism, the only difference being we must spray a conventional spray for that one disease.

Ready To Bloom!
Right now, our Chardonnay is about to burst into bloom.  I surmise the Pinot will be about a week behind the Chard.  This pre-bloom and bloom period is a very critical time for the development of the fruit.  We need to keep the Black Rot spores from settling on the flowers and subsequent fruit as it "sets".  The same goes for the "rachis", the stem that holds the grapes.  It must remain free of disease so it will support and be a channel for circulation to the grapes as they mature.  Then after the berries form, it will be important to mantain spray coverage for about another five weeks, at which point the berry is strong enough and the grape skin thick enough to prevent the spores from penetrating the fruit.

And To Their Health!
In hopes of raising the healthiest possible vines, I have chosen to spray foliar nutrients on the vines, timing the applications to meet the peak demand during the various stages of plant growth.  For example, I am adding a foliar calcium spray while the fruit is setting, as calcium helps to thicken the cell walls, thus helping to thicken the skin of the thin-skinned Pinot Noir grape.  This will be important down the road as the tight cluster grows and continues its vulnerability to disease, insects, birds, etc.  It certainly will require careful monitoring throughout the season.  And I am prepared to stand guard!

Mutant Egg?
Or did some little bird drop into the wrong nest?  I am puzzled by this sparrow nest I found in the vines.  As you can see, the three blue speckled eggs are very similar to each other.  And then there is the one larger, cream colored speckled egg.  Is there that much variation in egg sizes and color in sparrow eggs?  It will be interesting to watch them hatch and see if the lone egg is actually from another bird.  Will she raise it as her own?  We shall see.  Hatchling images will follow.
Addendum!  One of my readers (Thank you, Don!) just sent me this link after reading the blog.  Looks like we have an invader! What to do? Offer me your vote.. Leave it or toss it?  I think I know what I will do, but would love for you to email me your opinion..

Radiating Beauty
Right now, the vineyard looks absolutely beautiful. The vines stand strong, without demands. Their bright, shiny leaves are healthy and soaking up those rays of sun as they grow up through the trellis wire.  Before long they will be through the top wire, at about six feet.  At that point it will be time to focus on the all-important canopy management.  But for now, their demands are slight.  Oh, there are canes to tuck into the wire, but such a task is a delight.  We enjoy pouring a glass of wine in the evening, carrying it with us into the vineyard.  We leisurely stroll down the rows, tucking the canes between the wires, while listening to the woodland birds settle in and watching the sun set behind the mountain ridge.
Such are the vineyard moments of my dreams.


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