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.
And I was glad of a rest from straining end braces (and my back) when the poly for the main and sub main lines turned up along with a ripper/pipe layer.
Spent Thursday afternoon laying out the lines, (well it was a beautiful day,) and, after a morning on the braces, Craig turned up with the tractor. I think nothing so far has gone as smoothly
Think that counts as a successful day.
Yes I am embarrassed, and deservedly so, about how long it has been since I last wrote a post here and it is not because nothing has been done on the vineyard, as the ever increasing stack of invoices will attest to. Neither has so much been achieved that there hasn’t been the time to document the progress. Instead, it is that summer has come and gone leaving a history of seemingly endless frustrations and disappointments rather than the triumph I had naively envisioned in spring. While the intention has always been to maintain an online diary of events from woe to go, any attempt to do so over this time would have resulted in little more than a litany of whinges which would have been neither helpful nor interesting for you all to follow. And so for once I followed my Mother’s advice by sticking to the principle of… “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
In retrospect, there were good things to come out of it all…lessons learned in attention to detail, where and where not to cut corners, when to say no and especially that other people simply cannot have the same level of commitment to what is, after all, my dream. There were also some excruciatingly funny moments, (also in retrospect,) usually involving cows, after which the phrase “herding cats” holds less meaning for me.
As always in this amazing place and amazing business, there were the people whose calmness, strength, generosity and occasional comic relief got me through a tricky patch, the first of many I am certain. Incredibly it seems that everything is back on track for the moment, albeit with a bewildering list of things still to do, details of which can now flow again via this blog. Thank you for staying with me and stay posted because, as my Mother would add, if you have got something to say, say it LOUD!
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.)