…and maybe after a good bottle of bubbles, it almost looks like a vineyard. 9km of wire strung and many hours of mowing meant a reasonably productive weekend. Desperate to spray off the rows but, frustratingly, the wind picked up today. Maybe this evening.
Nearly everything is here, very much later than planned, but at least we have been able to start. The earth anchors from Qing Dao are all we could have hoped, although admittedly a few of them provided a few problems. And believe me, we are throwing everything at it. If it moves, carries, lifts, drills or measures, it is press-ganged into service, (and that includes the kids.)
As mentioned elsewhere, since leaving school, (and for some time before then; sorry Dad,) my life has been mostly about wine. Inevitably, amidst all the fun stuff of growing it, making it, drinking it, there has been the need to sell a case or three which has required some marketing effort. Now I am not someone who thinks that “marketing” is a cover-all career description. I market WINE. That doesn’t mean that I can do the same for Ferraris or double glazing and I am sorry, but neither do I believe that a generic marketing degree gives anyone carte blanche to claim greater expertise in my particular field, (or as it might be, vineyard.)
However, I give full respect to those who have put in the hard yards to learn a product and an industry from the ground up and who use that knowledge to further their cause. Australian wine has gone from nowhere to its current prominent position in not much more than 30 years, thanks to the vision of our industry icons and their considerable marketing prowess, rather than them being dab hands with a plunger or a pipette.
So I admit to finding it more than a little ironic that marketers, rather than building quality perception and demand, which is their role, seem to have earned themselves a status in the wine world similar to cork taint or brettanomyces. With the 90’s far behind us, when everything was fun and easy, and the realities of a tough global market place biting pretty hard, more and more people seem to be jumping on the hate wagon, deriding and blaming marketers for all their woes. Even the occasional journalist, whose over-flowing cellars and busy schedules are mostly courtesy of marketing department’s efforts, are adding to the growing volume of abusive rhetoric.
So a word of warning. We are ALL marketers; we ALL have a need to constantly update and promote ourselves and our qualities and right now we need good marketers more than ever. Don’t fling abuse just because others do. Instead, work out how marketing makes a difference, because it does. Which of us wouldn’t rather be driving a Ferrari rather than a Yamaha, even though the Formula 1 results say otherwise? And with Tassie still denying us a real beginning to summer, I for one wouldn’t mind a little double glazing.
OK! So the plan WAS, if you remember right back to April, that after giving the whole site a thorough discing, all it would need in Spring was a few quick passes with the harrows and everything would be beautifully smooth, clear of grass and weeds and ready for planting. That of course was before the record busting rains in Sept/Oct produced such vigorous growth that I’m beginning to think that Jack & the Beanstalk might have some factual basis.
In fact, 5 passes with the big stump jumpers still didn’t do the trick and the upshot is a change of plan. We will simply spray off the rows and leave the rest. At least there is less rush to establish an inter-row cover crop and, as you can see from the picture, the whole slope is now beautifully graded….and nothing but blue skies at last.
…here they are. (2 hours late but not to worry.) First problem: – apparently low range 4WD and a diff-lock doesn’t count for much these days as truck can’t get through the gate. Tried forwards. Tried backwards. In the end, the only way to go was sideways…
…so parked in the neighbors driveway and craned them over the fence. The tarp had to go but, seeing these things are supposed to last at least 50 years in the ground, I figured that a few weeks above ground won’t hurt them.
And there they are…620 line posts and 200 end posts. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do with them until the ground anchors turn up from Qing Dao in around 30 days time. At least that will allow time to get everything ready…I hope.
One of the variables we considered when the sticks were slow to strike was whether taking cuttings soon after vintage and before any significant frosts would affect the level of stored carbohydrates. Of course, the need to access producing blocks before pruning dictated the timing. However, the rapidity with which these CH277 cuttings have thrown roots is interesting as they were taken just prior to bud swell in early spring. (Note to self – much more pleasant AND possibly more effective to take cuttings when it’s warm and sunny!)
I have a confession….With around 6,000 cuttings in the nursery, all the sore hands and aching backs it took to collect them were nothing to the hours of worry and angst brought about waiting for them to callous and throw some roots. To be on the safe side, we ran controls of every kind: different soil mixtures, different temperatures; inside/outside; and so, when ABSOLUTELY NOTHING happened, your’s truly could be seen pacing the floor, tearing his hair out like a nervous expectant stock-broker. Advice and reassurance were sought across the state, (thanks Fred, Shane and AP) with plenty of the former and not enough of the latter. We agonized over whether they were warm enough, cold enough, if they had enough sand in the mix, if there was too much sand in the mix, if poppy meal had been a bad idea after all, if they were too wet, too dry, or whether we’d taken them too early,…
In the end, Lee rolled out the heat mats and rotated the potted cuttings in batches, with the result that most are taking around a week to go from stick to rootling…in fact, any longer and the size of the root ball is going to make it tricky to get them into the planting trays.
Of course, in the meantime, the rain has finally eased, the frosts have (almost) ceased and we have even had a few days of beautiful Spring sunshine. In response, the cuttings are now firing at both ends and have not only sprung into leaf, but some, (yes, I’m talking about YOU pinot blanc,) have even thrown flower spikes, as you can see in the picture. At this rate, we may be the first vineyard to take in a crop BEFORE the vines are actually planted. (Terry Pratchett fans may call to mind the existence of wine made from REANNUAL grapes planted the following year. The snag was that you got the hangover the morning before and had to drink a lot to get over it.)