As if I had not been posting infrequently enough, I wanted to take a moment to say that until the end of August I will be pretty preoccupied with things at home and work. If possible, I will try to say something of value, when appropriate.
Until then, I wanted to give some general updates about my vineyard.
I have been keeping a pretty diligent video chronicle of transpirings at my vineyard and it is available to view here. There is something gratifying about growing things. It’s not without surprises, frustrations, disappointments and fears.
My first surprise of the season came in the form of greater than anticipated vigor in my Aglianico vines. The second was flowering in the Montepulcaino vines – just three weeks after planting (and after they budded vigorously).
I would be curious to know how often this happens. I’m eager to hear the experiences of other growers and vineyard managers.
Nevertheless, I could not allow this to continue. These vines need to put all their effort into becoming established: developing roots and accumulating carbohydrates. For that, they need a robust canopy.
My first major disappointment (although, probably, not my last) came on Father’s Day. That was somewhat ironic, as I have often compared my feelings about the vineyard to the paternal feelings I have for my children (though the later come first, always). So, finding vines toppled or broken from winds (about 20 mph, in the days prior) was rather heartbreaking. And heartbreak of one form and degree or another, is something all parents experience.
Aglianico, as I’ve learned from Dave Caprone, who has been growing the variety in Paso Robles since 1992 or so, is prone to breakage – particularly when it is not trained on wires. After considerable deliberation, I have decided to nurse the damaged vines back and hold off on putting in posts and wires. A recent video on my YouTube Channel explains my solution.
Finally, we come to fears. Over the course of the past hundred years or so, Los Angeles and Southern California vineyards have been repeatedly devastated by Pierce’s Diesease.
I have found 5 insects bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Glassy Winged Sharpshooter on my back-up vines – which are kept some 5 miles from the vineyard.
I can never get close enough or get a photo clear enough to determine if these are, in fact, GWS or the Smoke Tree Sharpshooter.
However, history, the proximity of the vineyard to running water (1,500 feet to the Los Angeles river – though I am not sure if it is considered a true riparian zone), the ubiquity of citrus trees (of which the GWS also is a pest) around the vineyard and the reports of diseases in other area plants attributable to Xylella fastidiosa give me reason to be concerned that Los Angeles County may still be an active Pierce’s Disease hot spot.
Reliable and safe preemptive measures meant to minimize negative outcomes are few and far between. I’d like to arm myself with options but all I can do is arm myself with patience.
In the military, they have a saying: “Hurry up and wait”. As a business owner, a grape grower, a winemaker, a parent and even as a writer that is all one can sometimes do. The best thing one can do is be vigilant, watchfully waiting for signs of trouble or signs that things are going well. This is where having a few items on one’s plate is actually a good thing. It takes one’s mind off the one vexing thing, allowing the necessary time to pass.