Circling the drain

Circling the drain.

Circling the drain.

A small portion of planted vines do not “take”. The reason for a few newly planted vines failing may be attributable to an incompatibility between soil and rootstock, problems with the soil itself: fertility, pH, deficiency or excess of key minerals and inadequate moisture, as well as pests: rodents, nematodes, insects, bacteria and viruses.

It seems that something is causing one of my vines to fail. It’s been a slow decline that brings to mind an unsavory turn of phrase mumbled and whispered in ICUs and ERs: “circling the drain”

You know what’s coming. The vine is not thriving. Its color is weak and yellow. The canopy is markedly smaller than that of surrounding vines. The plant is dying.

As soon as I am physically able (knee surgery went well and I’m recovering very nicely), I will pull the vine. Actually, I will carefully dig it up. I want to see if gophers have been nibbling on its roots. I also want to have a look at the soil. Perhaps there is something about this particular spot that distinguishes it from the spots six feet to the left and to the right.

Can you find the straggler?

Can you find the straggler?

Careful extraction of the plant will allow me to see how moist the soil at the root ball is. I may even collect some soil for analysis.

So I have some questions for my wine-growing readers:

1. Is what’s happening with my vine something you’ve seen before?

2. If you had to speculate, what would you say is the problem?

3. What is the rate of failure of newly-planted vines?

4. What causes failure of newly planted vines (parasites and pests excluded)?

I look forward to your answers.



Father, husband, physician, amateur guitarist, wine lover, wine writer, wine grower and wine maker trying to do it all within eye shot of downtown Los Angeles.
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3 Responses to Circling the drain

  1. Arthur,

    I’d love to be of help, but possibilities abound, and you have covered many of them in your list.

    Your method of finding out is a good one–pull that sucker up before it dies and see what you can find out under there.

  2. Dylan says:

    Unfortunately, I can’t offer any advice when it comes to new plantings. However, I can say that your curiosity and approach to problem-solving will do you well. To carefully observe the vine over simply tugging it loose should provide some interesting analysis and solutions.

  3. Pingback: Good Reads Wednesday « Artisan Family of Wines

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