I've pushed off going out into the vineyard for a couple of months now. It has been just too cold, or the cows have taken up all my time, or Rich isn't here yet to help out. It's been any number of excuses.
But today was a warm day, and the next two days will be even warmer....upper 60's and maybe even a 70 degree day if we're lucky. So I started collecting the tools I need and some of the repair parts required to venture back into the vineyard. This all needs to be done before bud break. Rich reminded me that the "traditional" bud break date of April 1st hasn't been valid for the last few years.....more like April 15th. So that gives us a month to get everything done. And with the late snowfall we have received, he is likely to be correct on his prediction.
We are starting slowly here. There is some very much required work to be done with repairing the trellis system for our Norton grapes. We have a T-trellis system (the trellis looks like the letter T), which is more or less a requirement for really aggressive grapes. When we first put it in we did a combination of wooden posts and metal posts just as an experiment. Well, the metal posts just can't stand the lateral forces of a hurricane, and we had an entire row tip over on us when Irene came around. We are finally now getting to replace these metal posts with the time proven wooden posts.
The metal "T's" on top of the wooden posts twisted with the wind forces, and these are all being replaced with 4" x 4"'s with steel bracing. It takes quite awhile to make each one of these in the shop, and then we have to go into the vineyard and remove the metal T and then reassemble using the new improved version. We were only able to repair one row today with these new top T's.
We next went down the row with the bent metal posts, having to manually dig holes for each of our replacement wooden posts. The positioning wouldn't allow us to bring in the tractor and use the hydraulic post driver to do this work....too many wires and vines in the way to jockey the tractor in position. The ground was still a little damp, so digging down 2 1/2 feet wasn't too bad. We replaced 7 posts (certainly this was one of the shorter rows) and will next need to assemble the new 4" x 4"'s on top to form the T's.
There is still pruning to do on the Nortons....we had been waiting to complete the repairs first. And then we noticed the irrigation system was a mess. It was broken in a number of areas....was this because of the icing and the possible freezing of the lines, shattering the PVC, or was this due to mischief ? I'll make that determination later when I starting evaluating the extent of the damage.
Wednesday is Richmond's Wineries Unlimited Tradeshow, where they promote all the new "toys" for the winery industry. This year they have invited brewery equipment makers to display their processing equipment; this is of special interest to Rich because he is starting to tinker with producing his own beer. He is thinking of setting up a micro brewery next to our winery. We'll see where that leads after we try some of the beer he is making in a 5 gallon carboy that is gurgling in our kitchen.....taste tests in about a week.
And early next week we have our Seyval Blanc to bottle from the grapes we harvested last fall. We have enough to make 50 cases or so. During the winter we purchased a new Italian screw topper for 750 mL bottles and I am excited to see how that works when we bottle this white wine.