It was a glorious early Spring day and I had the good fortune to spend much of it in the vineyard. Between classes I raked beneath the rows of our Viognier block to neaten it up; hoping to finish that block tomorrow morning. The afternoon was in the Stan Clarke Vineyard and our newest addition, which we unofficially call the Myles Anderson Vineyard.
We pruned last quarter, earlier in the week the trimmings were mowed over.
Today we took colored tape to the vineyard: pink to designate missing vines, black to secure cordons over two years old to the support wires and green tape to secure the younger canes to the support wires. A few years ago we had a very cold Autumn, freezing several of the Merlot vines completely and some back to the ground. We plant with self rooting stock so the latter ones grew back on their own. Cuttings taken the following year are now rooted and will be planted where the pink tape indicates a missing vine.
Securing the regrowth and extensions of cordons to fill the gaps along the row, bending the younger cordons back toward the wire and replacing damaged tape on older cordons is done with black tape. Once around, overlapping the tape a bit to be sure it sticks to itself is all it takes. Too much or too tight and the tape constricts the cordon over time, which is unhealthy.
There is a bit of give to the tape, but the weather eventually makes it brittle, which is why it occasionally needs replacing.
Green tape, loosely tied to keep the young cordon along the support wire. Sometimes it helps keep a new trunk vertical by supporting it against a metal post or a second trunk bent in the opposite direction.
Once all the tape was on we had to loosen the mid-wires and remove them from their supports. The wires will hang below the spurs until we have canes long enough to support inside them. Then we will gently replace the wire in the supports, secure the tabs to keep them there and tighten the wires to create the vertical lift desired. There is a top wire that will eventually have to be loosened to contain the longer cane growth up as well.
Early next week we will be turning on the irrigation water, flushing out the system and checking each emitter to be sure it is functioning. Our plethora of rain in the last month has been a boon; several of the pruning wounds are beginning to weep, which is healthy. This indicates the vascular system that brings nutrition and water from the roots throughout the plant is functioning. That weeping also keeps germs out of the fresh wounds – much like cuts we get seep to keep germs out of our bodies.
Locally we don’t have bud break, but there are vineyards north-west of us that have reached that milestone this year. We will keep busy all quarter with the unfolding needs of our plant charges. Last fall we came into the vineyard to clip netting, harvest and then put the vineyard to bed after harvest; it is good to complete the cycle this season.