Farming some wine
The 2017 growing season is off to a pretty good start. We avoided early budbreak, but that proved to be a non-issue because we did not have a late spring frost. We have finished our shoot-thinning, but now we are going back through to tuck shoots in position in the catch wires. Once you cut the shoots that are being removed, all of that energy goes into the remaining shoots, and holy cow, are they getting some growth right now. We have some shoots in the Sangiovese that are already in need of hedging. But we are not doing that this early because that triggers other growth that we want to minimize, so we deal with the few really long shoots for a bit longer.
We are just finishing with bloom, the time of fertilization, and the best thing that can happen during this period is warm and sunny. Over the last two weeks of May, we had 3.53″ of rain. What did that do to us? It is too early to tell, but that much rain can interfere with fertilization because the flowers are just so delicate. If you look at them with a mean look on your face, it can cause them to fall off, so the rain was not ideal. We will know in about six more weeks if it is going to cause issues with fruit set this year. I really don’t think it will because most of that 3.5″ of rain came on two particular days early on, with sprinkles the rest of the time.
Growing Degree Days [GDD base 50F] through 2 June 2017 has us in the number three position for the nine growing seasons for which we have data. The spread between the warmest to 2 June and this year is less than 20 GDD, and it is my belief that we may see a year nearly as warm as 2016, though I do not think we will reach the record heat accumulation we saw last year.
Pa Fris and I have been busy with a little project; we built a small trailer on which to store the tables we built this past winter. It will make moving them much easier [though still not easy!], and it was a pretty fun project too. Actually, it is still ongoing, but we have the frame welded, axle hung, and the metal work is mostly painted. The frame is square [about 1/32″ out of square on a 60″ x 120″ frame]; it is solid [3″ channel for the frame, 0.25″ angle for the bracing]; it is balanced. It is not flawless; our welds are not perfect, a cut or two may have a little wiggle, our paint is not without a run or two, but not bad for a couple of amateurs. Now all we have to do is put a floor on it, and I think we are going to use some really pretty oak we milled recently. This particular trailer will spend most of its life inside, so we are upping the effort to make this a little more than ‘just’ a farm trailer.
The next few months are the most exciting time of the year for us. The growing season is in full swing. At this point, we are having what I think is one of the best growing seasons we have had, so who knows how great this fruit might be. Speaking of great fruit: We will be bottling our 2013 [as yet unnamed] Sangiovese very soon, and we bottled our 2015 Five Twenty-Nine and 2015 Red Dress about a month ago. New labels for both of those wines arrived today, plus a refreshed label for our Gratitude. We are also going to be creating the fourth-generation of Smokehouse Red, our Sangiovese and Chambourcin blend; bottling our 2013 Chambourcin, another new wine for us as a dry, Chambourcin-only, red wine. We are pleased with each of these wines, and we look forward to sharing them with you very soon.
I am excited about what the second half of 2017 has in store. This can be a hard business that puts great demands on our time, on our budget, on our bodies, but it is also something we love. We love our farm. We love the vineyard. We love producing our wine. We believe NC is a world-class wine-growing region that just needs some time to prove itself to everyone else. We love the opportunity to demonstrate what we believe.