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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER CHAPTER

We are wrapping up another year and another chapter in this venture. Each year that goes by is one more closer to first crush. Jerry completed the 2nd round of pruning in late July and August so the vineyard looks like it is in control again. He has steadfastly weedwacked the weeds into submission, using post emergent herbicide to give them their final blow. It has worked to some degree, and hopefully the lessons we learned this year can be transferred to next year, both for Block 1 and our Block 2 expansion.
The spray schedule carried us through mid-September and for the most part it did its job. No bug damage that we could find other than the occasional Japanese beetle having a food orgy. And black rot and other fungicide problems didn't seem to pop up either.
Our main concern regarding these things is that my next door neighbor had an herbicide spray that floated over to the vineyard (and on Jerry) and killed some of our new leaf growth. We didn't have any fruit this year so my concern is more towards killing my help. I'll have to chase the farmer down in the off season and see if we can arrange a way not to have his sprays travel. It didn't seem like he was too concerned about spraying during the evening or an otherwise calm moment.
Of course there are still the deer. They left us alone during the season......too many other good things to eat I guess. But now that we stopped spraying some of the bad taste may have rinsed off in a rain making the grape leaves more appetizing. Just a theory.
We did get some fruit on our Seyval Blancs this year. Most of it we snipped off but we did save some bunches for sugar testing. This year was Diane and my 36th wedding anniversary. I was convinced it was the year of "vineyard equipment". I got her a refractometer (good thing it wasn't the year of the snow shovel) which we put to use and found that we had a Brix reading of 20. This translates to a sugar content of about 10%. If it was a harvest year we would need to let the bunches hang longer.
We also transplanted some our our baby crape myrtles that we had put in the ground when we first moved in. These we have lining one side of the driveway just when you enter the farm. They struggled the first year they were in, but now they are branching out and having a personality that includes upward and outward growth, along with some bright red coloring.

It is Fall now and we also decided to start up a small Christmas tree plot. Diane, through years of subjective analysis, has decided that Fraiser Firs are the best trees for indoor decoration, so she went out and bought 50 trees. I felt that it would be a good tradition in 6 or 7 or 8 years to invite old friends down around Thanksgiving and have them cut a tree for their holiday celebration. We placed them in a plot to the rear of the farm, and shy of the deer once again making their presence known, they are care free with the exception that they are one more thing that Jerry has to water by hand, since there is no water there.

The next real trigger point is November 1st. Why November 1st you ask ? During September I had asked Farmer Mac who is farming all the land I haven't converted yet with soy to give me the best guess as to when he will harvest the beans. His guess at the time was November 1st being the first frost, so within 2 weeks after that time he would be stripping the fields of their bounty. We need Block 2 for our next expansion, which we want to start preparing in the Fall. Through trial and error in Block 1 we need to get the posts in the ground and do a few other things before we start planting in April. More detail on that later. October will be planning for another year, and another chapter.

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