The hands of time are the thieves of our lives. Time slips away so quickly when you need the most of it and then, almost as if obstinate, seems to stand still in spite of your impatience. Somewhere in this stop-and-go, we are always running a deficit.
Yet, in unexplained paroxysms, we find ways to create time. Whether it’s finding a few minutes to plant poppy seeds with your seven year-old, or to get an unplanned blog post in before getting on with the mind-numbimg grind of daily work.
In the past few months, I pruned back the new growth on my Aglianico vines leaving the best shoot with two buds for the coming year. This has to be done when the wines are dormant and the leaves are off, not before. It also shouldn’t be done when the vines are coming out of dormancy, or worse yet, during rains – for risk of eutypa.
I’ve been visiting the site frequently to check on things but there has not been much to write about. It’s been pretty much a matter of giving the vines time to rest. But now, the buds are beginning to swell and my hope is that, with warming weather and regular rains, I’ll be seeing budbreak soon. This season, I’ll be training the vines to their permanent height. I’ll also (hopefully) be putting in another block of vines – Montepulciano.
But what to do in the in-between, the waiting time?
Maybe the recent rains and the hours spend working indoors have given me the cabin crazies, but I decided to try something that is very likely to fail.
I’ve decided to try and grow wine grapes from seeds. This is almost a futile endeavor because, unlike propagating vines from cuttings (which ensures consistency of genetic – and thus resulting wine – characteristics), propagating vines from seeds results in considerable genetic variation and instability and variability of fruit. But if Randall Grahm can give it a try, so can I. After all, the only thing I have to loose is time.
In my travels through wine country, I had tasted some grapes I pulled off the vines. For whatever reason, I saved the seeds (Pinot Noir from two different AVAs and Teroldego from another site). I had folded those seeds in paper and put them inside a Ziploc inside my fridge for over a year and forgot about them.
Not too long ago, Grahm (when I told him about my vineyard) told me I should try to plant own-rooted vines. This is easier said than done and I told Randall that. After all, I can’t think of any California grape vine nursery that offers vines other than those created by bench grafting scion onto crossed rootstock.
But then, in one of those time paroxysms where everything was held at bay like bullets in the Matrix movies, I remembered the seeds in my refrigerator. There may be several ways to germinate grape seeds, but the success depends on their ripeness at the time they are collected. Add another variable which will be tested by time.
There are several approaches to germinating grape seeds, but I followed this one to the letter. While it was easy for me to forget about the seeds when they were in the fridge, I found it difficult to not check the temperature several times a day as the seeds warmed and then soaked.
But now, the seeds are planted and placed in an ironically-named planter-greenhouse. It’s a waiting game for the next two seeks or so. But as this temporal fluke is coming to an end and I have to get back to other things, I’m tempted to take W.C. Fields’ lead and put up a sign over the planter which reads: “Sprout, you bastards!”
I’m not sure what I will do with the Pinot Noir. It’s certainly not suited for my vineyard. The Teroldego is another story. I really hope these seeds grow. They would make a nice addition to my site – if they retain their character and if the wine is any good. But that, again, is a question that needs time. Back to the stop-and-go.