Friday, June 21, 2013

The kaolin clay is on and it's a count down to netting time!

I was happy with last year's harvest...don't get me wrong, but there are some things that I thought we could do better this year. The easiest of these improvement for us to make this year was to spray less kaolin clay and to spray it later in the season, once the berries had almost reached bunch closure. The grapes helped us out this year by simply growing so quickly that we didn't have time or need to spray them earlier. The weather has been so mild and wet that the grapes have grown like kudzu. Last year, we used the higher end of the recommended rate of 50lbs per acre. This year, we have used less... About 25 lbs per acre. So far the Japanese beetles are staying away, so it seems to be working. The vineyard isn't as white as it was last year, but you can tell that the clay is present. Hopefully we will slow down the growth a little, but get better ripening than last year. I'd like to get higher brix than last year, but keep the good acidity of last year. We are on schedule for putting the netting on in about two weeks. That's about the same time as last year, which means, about 5 weeks after that, well be harvesting! I will be happier if we can keep the grapes on the vines a little longer, but mid August seems to be when our grapes want to ripen. Every year we learn more about the timing of the growth of the grapes in our vineyard!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Speedy Spring Vineyard Season--- the silver lining to all this cool and rainy weather

Diversity is key in any portfolio. This is especially true in the case of the small farm. While it's been too wet for us to plant, hoe, fertilize, or basically do anything, it's been the perfect weather for pushing growth on the vines. We're already to pea size. After the late budbreak, the fast growth has been quite surprising. It's almost time to get the kaolin clay on the vines to slow them down. Veraison will be here before we know it. And then Harvest. 

The rainy weather has also allowed us to plant the experimental varieties we got from Texas (Lenoir and Blanc du Bois). We planted half  beside my house and half in Mount Pleasant on a little hillside of terrible rocky soil. Digging the wholes there sounded like nails on a chalk board it was so rocky. The rate at which we dug the wholes there was about 10/hour. Compare that to digging the wholes at my house- about 30 holes per hour. This field has a northerly aspect, just like the one beside my house. I can't wait to see how these plants react to North Carolina. Only two years until we get to see what their wine tastes like and find out if we want to plant more! 

Other than that, things have been quite slow at the farm. We desperately need to work in our garden. At first, I thought we'd just wait the rain out. And then when it continued every day, I knew we couldn't just sit around for a whole week not doing anything. So we had to get wet. I hope we get a break from this rain soon or I might go crazy.