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



A Green Explosion!

I never would have believed years ago as I lived my city life that I would one day be spending endless hours in a vineyard under grueling heat, my pores pouring sweat, body baking under a hot sun on a muggy, still day.  I lived the life of comfort, where I went outside on a day such as this only for quick moments as I dashed from house to car to office to restaurant, etc.  I picked the days I wanted to spend outside.  Here I don't have that choice. What impresses me is how much more we are capable of withstanding than I ever imagined possible. I learned that this past week.

The climate conditions of this spring and my four days absence from the vineyard when I traveled back to Virginia Beach for a few days created a perfect storm for utter chaos in the vineyard upon my return.  We had so much rain under very cool conditions for most of the spring.  The vines had been well fed with a good dose of compost. They soaked it all up and rested quietly as they waited for sun and heat to kick start their season of reproduction.  Well......

The hot sun arrived just as I left and when I returned, my jaw dropped at the jungle of growth before my eyes.  Canes spewing forth in all directions, canes that were too short to tuck into the wire before I left were now so long they were laying on the ground.  Walking down the rows was like walking through a tunnel.  Oh my God!  And we had to spray within 48 hours to not allow a lapse of coverage and Black rot to rear its ugly head. This is such a vulnerable time.  The fruit is in bloom and the baby grapes are tiny and tender.
I was frantic.  3,500 vines, each with multiple canes.  Impossible!  Dennis was there to help for a while.  Arnold lended a hand. A storm was coming the next day.  We had to get all the canes off the ground, tucked in and Arnold spray before the end of the next day.  Temps in low nineties with high humidity and no breeze.  I felt like I was running ahead of a freight train that was picking up speed.  I have to say this was one of the most grueling days I can remember. 
By six o'clock on day two I tucked in my last cane and Arnold began spraying.  He finished spraying beyond twilight, into the darkness of night with the tractor lights on.   The expression around these parts is "dark caught me".  For me, the heat caught me.  It took me two days to recover.  Fluids, electrolytes, rest.  I walked the vineyard the next day and I felt a reminiscence of those days after childbirth... feeling exhaustion along with an overwhelming sense of pride in my accomplishment and a deep connection to what I had given birth to.

Grow in good health my baby grapes.  Trust you will be cared for to the greatest of my abilities.

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