Yesterday I received an email from the viticulture instructor at WWCC Enology & Viticulture yesterday: there was work to do in the vineyard and all help would be appreciated. Well I am here to learn, so this morning I got up and out to the vineyard: we clipped bird netting over the grape heavy vines.
Having loaded, moved and unloaded boxes to move houses, pruned and weeded both gardens and moved plants between them, I am not totally out of shape. Four hours and fifteen minutes, three rows of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and many clips later, I felt totally out of shape! Squatting, reaching, tugging (albeit carefully), and sometimes falling (I am a klutz) on the uneven ground made for quite the workout this morning.
The good part is that I think I got the hang of it by the end of the first row. The goal is to keep the birds away from the fruit and the netting in place without putting so many clips on the netting that removing them is problematic. I couldn’t just clip the netting so the wind wouldn’t take it since I would feel terrible if a bird got caught inside the netting and couldn’t get out.
There are wayward branches, low hanging fruit, stakes, water-lines, and holes in the netting from previous years to complicate the process. Once I found a rhythm fewer grapes popped off the clusters at me and I needed fewer clips to close the gaps. My first row took nearly two hours, the other two were barely over an hour each. I know I slowed over the last half of the third row as the sun was nearly at its zenith and there wasn’t any more shade to hide in.
Filthy from head to toe, I cleaned up as best I could to drive home. Right into a hot shower, it was all I could do to lift my arms to wash my hair. Thankfully my daughter was home to help slather on the icy hot; I took a Tylenol too.
It was fun to meet a few of my peers and a couple of second year students this morning. There are still lots of grapes to go over with the netting, so I am sure I will work on more rows later this week. Knowing I should keep track of my hours in the vineyard is a perk of being present with those who have completed their first year.