Monday, May 2, 2016

IndieGoGo Campaign update!

I'll be honest- the IndieGoGo campaign is not going as well as I had hoped. We are still going to be planting the vineyard. In fact, we have already started! We have purchased the vines, worked up the soil, dug the holes, and are now putting the vines in the ground. But the most expensive part is still ahead- getting the support for the vines, the rebar, and then the landscaping fabric and the staples to hold it down.

We decided not to move the pole in the middle of the field, since that would have cost $5,000. Instead, we just planted around it, and stayed away 20 ft.

Preparing the soil has been the biggest challenge so far. We had the property surveyed and staked off by Concord Engineering and Surveying. Then we measured out the rows. We tied a string between poles at either end of each row, spray painted the line, and then Dad mowed the future row. Then, he got his tiller out and went over each row 6 times. Then, he mowed the inter-row spaces so we could work in the vineyard.

Then, because the tiller only had us going down about 4 inches of workable soil, we used a plow to work up the soil. We plowed in two directions, each time, piling the soil to the middle. The after that, we disked the soil to break up the clods. Finally, we used our new tool, the middle buster to dig a trench down the middle of the row.

That got us down about 8 inches and working with gorgeous fluffy soil. You couldn't ask for better working conditions. We finally are digging holes in the trench, about 2-4 more inches down, and are putting mulch in the bottom of each hole. The we put the plant in, and cover it up.

This is so much easier than the first vineyard we planted! We are able to plant about 100 vines per hour (after the holes are dug!). The condition of the soil is what is really making this a speedy endeavor. It's so delightful to work with compared to the rings of clay and rocks that were in the first vineyard. It's amazing to see how the soil changes in just a quarter of a mile! It goes from rocky clay to a soil filled with awesome organic matter! It will be interesting to see how the wines turn out.

So, again, I ask for your help in making this a possibility. We have had some unexpected bills in the past few months and your financial contribution means more than you could imagine! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Our New Vineyard

We are so excited to be started on our next two vineyards! We have two in the plans for this coming season: one located by the current vineyard and one located in Mount Pleasant on an hillside acre owned by another farmer. We will be planting Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot on our own property and more Villard blanc on the other property.

In order to fund this, we will be doing a crowd-funding campaign, so if you have a few spare dollars, please consider helping to fund our project. Every dollar counts. Every dollar goes towards buying another vine, another piece of rebar, another bag of fertilizer.

We are going to plant the vineyard a little bit differently this time. We learned a lot in our first planting, and hope we have made some improvements and realized a few ways to save money in the process. Since it takes approximately 3 years to get our first crop, we are going to establish the vineyard over the course of a few years instead of in one go, like we did last time. This year, we are going to plant the vines, put down the landscape fabric, and stick a piece of rebar beside the vines. Last time, we used bamboo stakes to hold the vines up. That was a nightmare. We spent countless hours picking up the vines as they would blow over and break the bamboo. Last time, we also constructed the trellis in the first year. The plants didn't really need it until the end of the second year. We are going to try putting the trellis in in the fall of 2017 in preparation of the first crop in 2018. That should help spread out the cost of establishment.

So why are we planting another vineyard? Besides the fact that wine sales are going well and continue to improve, we are striving to improve our economies of scale. From what we have seen, we will have to increase our input very little if we add on three more acres. I'm not saying that it won't be more work, but having a 4 acre vineyard is a bit cumbersome. We can't really afford full time vineyard staff or marketing staff for so few bottles of wine. However, if we put in three more acres, we will be able to operate more efficiently, and probably be able to afford a tasting room with a full-time staff person! This, however, might be a few years in the future. Remember, if we are planting the grapes in 2016, we won't have wine for sale off of those grapes until 2019. That's a long way off! A lot can happen in three years!

That's why we are counting on community support to put this new vineyard in the ground. We are using Indiegogo to help us out. We have three perks: bottles of wine, cases of wine, and gift certificates for vegetables. Please check out our campaign below. We are very excited to begin this new venture and all the fun wine-making things it will let us do! We will be able to add a barrel or two of Cabernet Franc to the Chambourcin to make it more complex! We will be able to add a barrel or two of Chambourcin in the Cabernet Franc to naturally increase the acidity and deepen the color! After three years of making Petit Verdot at Raylen, I can guarantee that it is the best varietal of grapes that we can grow right now in North Carolina. It makes a deep, rich, complex wine that can compete with any wine in California, especially when aged in some new oak barrels.

So please! Help us get the word out! Let's get the community involved! And come out to help plant. We will probably be doing this the week of April 11-15. Thanks for your support and we will see you out there.