Firing at Both Ends

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,…

vine floral buds (640x480)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.)

Swings and Roundabouts

SWINGS – In the words of the incomparable Spike Milligan, “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz,” which serves to remind me both that time is marching on and that it has been a little while since my last post.

ROUNDABOUTS – Despite the blossom up and down the valley and budburst imminent, Liawenee on the Great Lake had the lowest ever recorded temperature in TAS last night and apparently, this morning in Hobart was the coldest since 1959, with Mt Wellington summit closed due to snow.

SWINGS – Thankfully the Tamar Valley is proving a little less extreme.  In fact, two days last week taking cuttings from the equally incomparable, (albeit for different reasons,) Dr Andrew Pirie’s vineyard saw me almost down to shirt-sleeves, despite Andrew and his partner Liz looking all set for a trip to Mawson Station.  The result was that around 600 cuttings each of Pinot Meunier and Fromenteau Gris, (the Champagne synonym for Pinot Gris,) have now taken their place in the callousing boxes, in addition to a few hundred Chardonnay clone 277 on advice from Andrew.  This should have meant that we have collected 6 of the 7 permitted Champagne varieties, leaving only the elusive Arbane for later.

Planting PlanROUNDABOUTS – However, there has been some disappointing news from Eden Valley that there were not as many viable Petit Meslier cuttings as we thought.  While we still hold out hope of a small number being available, it will unfortunately mean a change to the current planting plan.

SWINGS – While Meslier may not feature prominently in the vineyard this year, it has certainly improved it’s standing in the cellar, with a case of “homework” turning up in the mail from the very splendid Jim Irvine.  I will certainly make study a priority this Summer.