Spring is here. The calendar told us that a few weeks ago, but for us, spring is when planting day gets here. This year, 2015, we added ~425 new Petite Manseng, or just shy of 0.6 acres, of additional vineyard. It brings our Petite Manseng coverage to 2.2 acres and our total under vine to 5.6 acres.
The vineyard, like all things in agriculture, takes significant work. Each time we go through the vines, whether winter pruning, shoot thinning, shoot positioning, leaf-pulling, mid-season pruning, or hedging requires significant work of at least 40 man-hours per acre. Harvest is the most labor-intensive period, but planting is right behind in terms of man-hours. This year, we had 19 people planting vines, and we put 500 vines in the ground before 2p. For some vineyards, that is a small planting, but for us, it is a big deal. We cannot say thank you enough to all of the people who helped: Sharon, Dan, Christy, Mark, Dianne, Laura, Maleada, Eddie, Linda, Kristin, Kate, Vanessa, Peter, Glenn, Hector, Jerry, Griffin and Tony. Sharon, Mark, Christy, Jerry, Eddie and Maleada have been part of the crew every year since 2010, and Dan, Laura, and Dianne have only missed one year each. We have a great group friends and family who work hard together to make this happen.
Eddie wants to take a pause in our vineyard growth next year, and part of me both understands that thought and agrees. Another part of me, though, does not want to pause our growth, and yet another piece of me does not want to see what has become tradition in our vineyard come to an end.
It takes a toll. We do a ton of prep work prior to planting day, laying out the vineyard rows, squaring them, pulling string to create straight lines, marking and augering all of the holes for plants and posts.
The work can be difficult. I think all of us are a bit sore from all of the up-and-down of planting. And yet, it is an enjoyable day. There is a social aspect to all of the work. We share laughs, stories, lies, a couple of beers and a meal.
The other exciting clue that lets us know spring has arrived in the vineyard is bud break. The Cabernet Franc already has shoots of 2-3″; the Sangiovese and most of the Petite Manseng has unfurled the first leaf or two; and the Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot are all ready to start showing greenery.
The 10 day forecast, which gets us almost to the end of April, shows the lowest overnight low forecast to be 44F. If this holds, we avoid a frost scare post-bud break this year. And that makes me optimistic for the season because if we can start strong, who knows what the year can bring. Cheers to a great growing season.