Mid-January, – and our first trip to the vineyard. The saw suggests it is going to get physical. We are cutting out the vines that got killed off by a disease called ‘Esca’ last year. Altogether not a very atmospheric trip. Which is why I am posting pictures from a different wine area altogether, the Pfalz. Here, during a recent early morning run, a winter run in T-shirt, I could observe every possible stage of winter vineyard work: from vineyards that did not see a harvest, to others already cut and pruned, to others cleared out entirely: I hope our Esca-related vine cutting will not look as dramatic!
This post was meant to be called “The good, the bad, etc”, but then everyone seemed to be talking about “the [royal] baby”. The baby, in our case, is not covered in a white blanket. “The babies” in the vineyard are the new plants seven of us planted earlier this year. And the news is that they now have babies, ahhh, sorry, they are carrying small grapes, which, after all the hard work, was an amazing thing to see.
That good news, however, was easily cancelled out by discovering bad and ugly news, ie seeing individual vines that looked ridden by the feared illnesses. The images in this blog show entire vines dying off or bunches of grapes that we had to cut out. The jury is still out, though, as someone told us that our vineyard looked healthy, despite these ugly images. Fingers crossed.
And if this is too nature-related for you (- a friend from NY visiting our vineyard admired “all that nature”- ), you can read about “the shop” here.
| maz | 0 Comment | 2013 | agriculture, Bacchus, Botrytis, caiques, Germany, grapes, Heften, herbicides, leaves, organic, parrots, pesticides, Rheinhessen, Silvaner, spraying, vines, vineyard, White wine, wine, winemaking
Our current work in the vineyard resembles a fight with a big octopus (and if you think this sounds like an exaggeration I grant you that). All these long fragile shoots (as in, the octopus legs) have to be fed into an enclosure made of wire, so as to create a ‘wall of leaves’. A wall that will eventually be home to the grapes (blossom happening at the moment).
I have never tested the fragility of actual octopus legs, but the stuff or shoots we are ‘fighting’ with is pretty fragile, so, yes, there is a fair amount of swearing, if another one bites the dust. And if we don’t break them, the tractor will: you can probably picture it quite easily how the tractor will rip off any shoots that refuse to go into the wired enclosure and instead try to crawl along the ground. The ‘wall of leaves’ we create helps the wind breeze through, thus stopping the spreading of the dreaded fungus, and makes the spraying more effective. With any scepticism towards the spraying, bio or conventional, it seems even more important that whatever concoction is applied, it hits its targets, ie the leaves, and doesn’t just ‘enrich’ the air.
The parrots were with me for this task last weekend and seemingly split the tasks between them: Erbse was ‘in charge’ of the ground or the vine stems, whereas Marzipan preferred the leaves. While they might seem like vineyard-pros by now, they have not yet confirmed their participation in the Loerzweiler wine-festival (July 5-8, 2013).
| maz | 0 Comment | 2013 | Bacchus, caiques, cake, communication, day out, earthworm, event, experience, ground investigations, harvest, Hochstamm, Loess, mykorrhiza, parrots, picnic, planting, pomegranate, powerpoint, Regenwurm, Silvaner, soil, stepping up to the plate, support, team work, traubenwickler, vines, water
Time to reflect on yesterday’s bank holiday when I was joined by a few friends to re-plant missing vines: When I left home this morning, my view of the wing mirror was obstructed by a little red dot: a pomegranate pip as it turned out, still stuck to the mirror, even after a few kilometers on the motorway. A nice reminder of yesterday’s fun action in the vineyard, the pomegranate pip left behind by two snacking parrots climbing around the car, with Marzipan observing our vineyard-hole-digging action from his most favourite perch ever: the steering wheel. Yes, they were also sitting between the vines conducting no doubt a very thorough “ground investigation” with their beaks on the soil that came out of the planting holes, but every parrot needs to take a rest from such strenuous tasks. And their most strenuous activity came at lunch time, as we sat down for a well-deserved picnic: climbing from one person to the next, the parrots tested which human offered them the best chance of getting a crumb of Astrid’s yummy cake; or, for that matter, shoes they could nibble on. (In fact, Frank’s shoes could no longer be nibbled on, the clay-like soil, “Loess” as it is called, had already been the last nail in his shoe coffin.)
If you picture what we did all day long to plant 62 vines, you might have in your head the kind of image of a local politician smiling into the camera with his or her foot on a spade to mark the thrive in new development in the local area. Yes, we did that, 62 times, just without the suit and the cameras. (in fact, Jula did take amazing pictures, but my camera could not muster the energy to record them. )
But this day was about so much more than that: a very special day of ‘things’ coming together in an amazing way: ‘people’ coming together in a remote field based on instructions scribbled on a map; ‘plants and equipment’ coming together, ie reaching Darmstadt ahead of the bank holiday (-it was very close). Time and time again I observed a beaming sensation written into faces looking up while arms moved through soil in zen-mode; and the same sensation voiced several times during the day (“Das ist sooo schoen!), even as our energy faded.
By then we had also driven almost 300 l water and 500 kg planting soil up the hill, had “sucked for England/Germany/Austria/Lörzweiler/Darmstadt” to make the water flow from the big tanks stationed in the car into the smaller containers and had chatted with various passers-by.
It was a day on which I felt supported, by the Lörzweiler community as well as by a digging and planting group of friends. A neighbouring vintner took one look at my planting water set up, disappeared and came back with some essential accessories that smoothened our operations, eased our backs. And whether you like management speak or not (our workflow of digging/root removal/planting soil/fungus/plant/pole/ties/watering/closing-up-the-hole could have easily filled 40 powerpoint slides, never mind the parrot-related in-between-steps), it is a fair conclusion that as a team we “stepped up to the plate to streamline our workflow” :o).
So much for the many content ‘ahhhhhs’ on the day, which continued over a drink in barely-can-speak-mode, once the last spade was squeezed into a seemingly puffed-up-t0-twice-its-size Kangoo (or Kangaroo, as the car was renamed, thanks to Sam 😮 ). The big question now remains whether the 62 plants sitting right now in the “wellness pools” we have created for them will appreciate the TLC they received from us. “Success rate” (Erfolgsquote) is the term used on agricultural forums, when they discuss how many plants they had to ‘RIP’ out the following years, due to frost, or because the roots did not manage to penetrate the hard ground surrounding the “wellness pool”. This may sound like a long wait for the last and 41st powerpoint slide to be drafted on yesterday’s venture, but if I can post pictures in 2 years’ time, of leaves and grapes on those new vines (“Hochstämme”), then llka, Astrid, Jula, Frank, Sam, Claus and I will know that the sore muscles were all worth it. Will we then still remember the awning we had to set up to find cover from the rain? The worms (earthworm/Regenwurm) we accidentally cut in halves with our spades? The 30-year-old root-block we capitulated on (“Close the hole again, we’ll never get this one out”)? – We will have to see!
This blog post tries to speak in pictures: Two collages showing how very different thoughts have to be applied, in parallel, right now, to the new vintage (2013), yet to develop its first leaf, and the 2012 vintage, just bottled: While the 2013 vintage currently needs the type of tlc that leaves the fingers full of mud (“Loess” is the type of ground conditions we are in) and the knees sore, the 2012 vintage has already forgotten what mother nature looked like, as it slips into the newly arrived “Green Feather Bag” (drawing of “Marzipan” and design by Sonja Schmitt). And thanks to an invitation to play boule, we had to ditch the vineyard work for one Sunday and take the new bag out for a picnic!