Sunset over the vineyard, 24 June 2019

OK, so I probably owe an apology to Sarah McLachlan. I started to title this ‘Building a Barn’ but I just could not write that last word. The song popped into my head when the first two words appeared, and I am still singing it [badly, I might add.]

We had the chance to see her once. It was the summer of 1998, and Dianne ‘surprised’ me with tickets to the Lilith Fair concert in Atlanta. Frankly, that wasn’t a show that was on my must-do list. But, as you might have guessed, we went, and I loved it! We saw Emmylou Harris [one of my mother’s favorite artists, especially her cover of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, admittedly not one of her more famous covers]; Jewel; The Bangles [or maybe just Susanna Hoffs, I can’t remember now]; Fiona Apple; a bunch of other acts that have faded from memory; and, of course, Sarah McLachlan. I liked her music before; I love it now. Don’t even get me started singing ‘Ice Cream’…

The first few roof trusses

So that was an unexpected detour! But thank you for indulging me the memory. We actually are starting construction on the new barn tomorrow, a good bit later than we had planned. Farming is a lot of work, and sometimes, even the best laid plans have to be pushed back when other priorities demand attention. We have done a good bit of prep work: grading, getting the building layout squared; we even have about half of the roof trusses completed. Tomorrow, if things go according to our plan, the posts will be set in the ground, and that will make it all seem real.

Dropping the trailer with 18’ posts

Eddie and I had gone back and forth over several conversations about ceiling height. The existing barn has 12’ ceilings, for which I had pushed back when we built that building in 2010. Back then, he thought 10’ was high enough. On this one, I have been pushing for 14’ ceilings, and he has pushed back that 16’ posts would not be long enough, and he is NOT going to build it with 13’. So we discussed trying to get 12.5’; maybe build a knee wall on top of the posts; stacking top plates to gain another 6-9”. None of those were really good ideas, but then we actually called Big Pine Log and Lumber, and guess what? They have 18’ posts that are nearly identical in price to the 16’! Problem solved, so we are going 14’, or at least as close as we can get with rough framing.

Sangiovese, 28 June 2019

What is happening in the vineyard? Well, this year [2019] is, as of 29 June 2019, about 100 GDD above our previous hottest growing season. It has been hot this year. We actually had four days of 90F or higher temperatures in May, something we have NEVER seen before. June has not had any days 90 or higher, but the forecast for next week calls for the temperature to reach at least 90 at least a couple of days. Heat accumulation is good; ninety+ is not. The vines start to shut down, and photosynthesis that maxes out at 87-88F tapers to nearly nothing at about 90F.

What about rain? ‘Normal’ rainfall in our area averages 45.7” per year. Last year [2018], was our wettest year on record. I mean ever. For the full year, we had almost exactly 80”. Through the end of June 2018, our rainfall total was 34.59”; at the end of June 2019 [assuming no rain tonight, and it doesn’t look like any], we are at 32.78”, about 143% of ‘normal’ for this time of year. It is wet, but it hasn’t seemed as wet as last year. I think part of that is we were really dry during flowering this year, which was absolutely not the case last year.

Bottom line: This year is looking really great in the vineyard, even though the rainfall numbers might suggest a challenging vintage. The timing of the rain has been better; even if some days are really wet, we have had plenty of dry, hot days to help mitigate disease pressure. Fruit set was really good. Veraison is literally just days away. We are optimistic about a really good vintage for #ncwine.