Wednesday, 9 May 2018

What a difference a day makes

Well I went out to the vineyard after publishing my post this morning and contrary to my earlier report, every single one of the 4-yo red Rondo vines had leafed while the white Solaris still had only one leaf. It's a wonderful time of year.

Happy days

Sweet greens

Even the young vines have come alive

Sudden greening


The first leaves opening on the Solaris vines

Rondo getting close on the 8th May.
I've been going up into the vineyard and taking pictures of the buds daily for several weeks. When everything was flowering in the orchard, not a vine had yet leafed in the vineyard. Slowly, ever so slowly, I watched as the leaves unfurled in a most sluggish way. Then yesterday, after several days of sunshine, the first leaf appeared - it was the 8th of May and it was on the white grape vine. Seems very late. The ones on the Rondo reds was almost there, but the first leaf was definitely open on the Solaris white.

I walked the field and made note of how everything was doing. The four-year-old vines are robust with strong buds. The newly planted vines are of two natures: one is robust and bursting to leaf, the other is barely surviving. In fact it looks like four of the 50 Alex planted last year are dead.

The chardonnay's don't look great so far either. They have buds, but small ones and some canes are black and look dead. I'll give them a little time to wake up still, but it appears that my experiment has revealed their fate. The cold snap we had and the prolonged period of below normal temps has taken its toll. Climate change does not equate to global warming. Not yet, not here anyway. Maybe something unusual will happen and I'll be saying, "Hmm, that's funny." Those are usually the best words in science, and after all, this is all an experiment, though uncharacteristically unscientific for two ex-biologists.

On the 26th April they were this far along. 

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Wake up!

More robust but still wound up tightly. 

Oh oh oh, almost. It's trying. 
Every day, I go to the vineyard to see if the vines have awoken yet. The weather has been uncooperative. Cooler and wetter than normal, and we even had a light ground frost this morning. Every day, the buds open ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly. The orchard is in bloom for the most part, the asparagus and rhubarb are harvestable, but the vines are still asleep. Any day now.

Until then, I continue digging up weeds, mostly ginormous docks roots, but a few other species as well, including prickly thistles. Every day, there are new ones adjacent to where I dug some out the day before. I feel like Sisyphus, only driven to cleanse the land. But I leave the dandelions to attract the pollinators and will be planting other Gaia-friendly companion species. And I watched a ladybird climb up a blade of grass and fly off into the sun. I just know that one day, I'll turn around and there it will be - the first leaf. Oh the joy of small pleasures.

Even the new plantings are straining.
Or are they restraining against the cold?

Monday, 16 April 2018

Still sleeping

The vines are still asleep. I've been digging up docks daily - two buckets full of roots is my limit per day before my back is irreparably damaged. But I am making progress. The ground is very soft and my new shovel makes the work manageable. Alex gave me a beautifully crafted Harmony shovel for my birthday. Some may have thought he was crazy, but my favourite shovel had cracked and this one is a delight -- if digging docks can be delightful. It's actually a kind of zen experience. Maybe a bit of OCD -- I have to dig up every one in the vineyard so they don't compete with the grapes for nutrients. Their root systems are so massive. (I have to remember to order soil test kits.)

It's been the longest winter on record in distant memory. Farmers are desperate, importing feed from overseas to feed hungry cattle and sheep. The fields are too wet for the cattle to be let out and the temperature too low to enable grass to grow. It's been too cold for newborn lambs to be left outside. I feel for those farmers.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Thomas Fire spurs sustainable recovery

The largest wildfire in California history had case closed on the 28th of February.  The final statistics of the Santa Barbara County fire show:

Acres Burned - Containment:281,893 acres - 100% contained *** CAL FIRE is no longer in Unified Command of the Thomas Fire. Visit inciweb for more information on this incident.
Structures Destroyed:1,063 Structures Destroyed, 280 Structures Damaged

Already, the rebuilding is beginning, even though some are questioning if that's wise and new mudslides threaten.

But one vineyard is doing something different. They are applying everything they learned during the fires to expand and install sustainable and safe energy systems. Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards & Winery, in the Mayacamas Mountains of Sonoma, won an award in January, not for its wines, but for its environmental and economic leadership. The 16-acre property was recently in the news for its microgrid system that held up with remote management during the devastating fires in Northern California. The staff was sent off and managed the entire winery and grid from positions of safety.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

World wine production plummets

The Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV) in its press release called it "A historically low 2017 production especially in Western Europe due to unfavourable climate conditions."  GLOBAL ECONOMIC VITIVINICULTURE DATA estimated 2017 World wine production  at 246.7 mhl, a fall of 8.2% compared with 2016.