Saturday, 18 May 2019

Soil composition or association

Teagasc has analyzed the soil of Ireland and reported it on a website for anyone to access. This is what multiple samples in our region turned up:

Modern definition: Fine loamy drift with siliceous stones
Texture: Fine loamy
Substrate type: drift with siliceous stones
Substrate 1: drift
Substrate 2: siliceous stones

Here is how Drift with siliceous stones is defined in their technical report:

" Drift with siliceous stones encompasses all thick drift parent materials that do not qualify for the other drift types defined above. These deposits include drift dominated by sandstone, slate, shale or chert stones. Most soils in drift with siliceous stones are non-calcareous to at least 120 cm, but profiles with calcareous material above 120 cm may occur. Use of such a broadly defined category means that several soil series previously defined in drifts of different type or stratigraphical age in Ireland are now amalgamated (Jones et al., 2011). 45 Where calcareous shales are found, the soils thereon should be classified with soils on noncalcareous shales, unless the soil material above 40cm depth is moderately calcareous (> 2% CaCO3) where upon such soils should be classified in a calcareous subgroup of the appropriate Soil Group/Great Group. "

Siliceous stones are sedimentary rocks that have silica (SiO2) as the principal constituent. The most common siliceous rock is chert; other types include diatomite. They commonly form from silica-secreting organisms such as radiolarians, diatoms, or some types of sponges.

In Galicia, the soil contains granite stones. Granite is a light-colored igneous rock with grains large enough to be visible with the unaided eye. It forms from the slow crystallization of magma below the Earth's surface. Granite is composed mainly of quartz and feldspar with minor amounts of mica, amphiboles, and other minerals.

So the terroir is definitely going to be different. But is it the presence of stones that counts or what those stones are made of?  Again, we'll have to find out.

Friday, 17 May 2019

White Varietals and Choices

Swaths of Albariño vines on pergolas in Galicia

Unusual white varietals are making a comeback. Torrontes, Viognier, and Albariño are being brought back to life from ancient vineyards and making their mark as superb and lighter alternatives to Chardonnay (ABC?).

Thursday, 16 May 2019

History of winemaking in Ireland

What an interesting surprise. I knew an article was going to be published as I did do an interview with the author, GABY GUEDEZ, but it was still quite a shock to scroll down and see myself quoted about growing grapes.... in an article entitled The Past, Present, and Future of Winemaking in Ireland. Gulp! Well, I'm in good company.

Particularly interesting was a reference to a study on The Feasibility of Ireland Becoming a Wine Producing Country Due To Climate Change published by the AcademicWino and written by James McWalter. His original blog post on his site no longer exists. He projects what will happen by 2030 and 2050 based on a metanalysis of the effects of climate change and suggests that Wexford is the place to watch for.

There's also a link to a Wine Goose Chase one-woman show about Ireland's role in the world of wine. We'll have to watch out for that, too.

Pergola in the making

The telephone pole support posts for the overhead pergolas for the first ten vines are in. Alex dug the holes, dragged the poles up the hill with a borrowed quad, and, with the help of a friend, righted the posts in the holes and cemented them in. They will be allowed to set for several days before the overhead poles are secured for the vines to be trained along them. This year, it will begin to look like a vineyard.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Soil structure

It's interesting that so many of the old prescriptive practices on soil and farm management are being debunked. It used to be that farmers were told they had to eliminate all weeds, till the soil annually to aerate it and fertilize routinely. Today we know, that tilling disturbs the natural soil structure, especially the mycorrhiza, and fertilization reduce mycorrhization. Using cover crops favours arbuscular mycorrhiza funghi. We are trying to disturb the soil as little as possible. We have also set aside swaths of land as a natural habitat to encourage wildflowers and grasses as well as insects and bees. It seems to be working.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Progress in the vineyard

Not only are the grapevines leafing and flowering nicely, but also the development of the vineyard itself - the trellises and supports for the vines - is progressing at a rapid pace and we are preparing to construct the overhead pergolas.

Alex has been busy. He's planting poles next to the baby vines to train them upwards until they can stand erect on their own. He had a special device made to help him pound the poles into the ground more safely. Using a sledgehammer at the height required for 8 foot high poles was downright dangerous. So he had a pole driver made by a local craftsman and it works brilliantly.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Spring has finally arrived

Rondo is most advanced
After weeks of cold dry weather, a few days of sprinkles was followed by a week of fine warm weather over Easter. Finally, the vines were ready to burst forth. All have done so now. The five-year-old Rondo and Solaris vines have leafed. The two-year-old Solaris vines have leafed. The Chardonnays are just beginning. The Pinot and Albariño vines have started leafing, too. There is life in the vineyard, and the donkeys are back in the field next door. Alex is preparing to erect the first of the overhead trellises and he has bought a gate wide enough to drive a tractor through. Thinking ahead.