I can’t stand it. It’s like killing off one baby to ensure the survival of the other, but which one do I choose? The eldest? the youngest? The strongest? The tallest? Agony, guilt, it’s all there and finally, when you pluck up your courage, close your eyes and do the deed, there are thousands of others waiting to be cast out of the gene pool in order to achieve a vinous master race. Cuvee Aryan here we come. (Well it is Chardonnay.)
While we have had plenty of rain and soil moisture is good, I am still anxious to get the irrigation up and running. When it dries off it will do so quickly, even if the Bureau aren’t quite forecasting El Nino conditions.
So the team are out again, running dripper lines as fast as they can go. If only I could get my dog Barney to drag them down the hill it would save me some serious k’s. Mind you, I get a good look in every single vine guard while I am doing so.
I know there is still a long way to go, and arguably there always will be, but still I feel fantastic and excited about what we have achieved so far. I wonder how many people in life can say they built their dream? Well mine is built so I thought I would try to tell the story so far with a few pictures. Enjoy. I have.
The count down is on to planting and the team is all lined up for Saturday. I’ve been pushing as hard as I can to get enough wires up, pipes laid, fences run. NOW it decides to rain?…and blow…and everything else. So close now and I’ll be stuffed if the weather is going to beat me but the weather man says more of this to come.
I came across this nicely researched article on Champagne Aubry which I thought worth sharing. They too have planted all seven permitted Champagne varieties although it is shocking to see how little Arbane is in the world. Hopefully, I can help to rectify that. Think I ought to get in touch with them!
As you may have read in “Firing at Both Ends” there have been the occasional moments of concern. Thankfully, we at least seem to have this particular one under control. The picture shows the I10V5 Chardonnay rootlings, (that’s right, they are no longer cuttings,) which are not only the dominant clone in the planting scheme with 40% of the area, but also the final batch of the Tassie cuttings to strike. Interestingly, they have also survived a light frost completely unscathed, which means that our choice to callous them outside in order to “toughen them up” seems to have worked. This will hopefully reduce first year losses in the vineyard.
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.)