After having our first harvest last fall and spending the winter tending to our wine, the spring of 2014 has been a time to plan for vineyard improvements and expansion.
Our main goal this year, beyond expansion, is to try several different projects aimed at reducing the conventional farming methods (sprays and packaged fertilizers) and moving forward down the organic farming path. While we won’t be fully organic any day soon we think that any steps that we can take now will get us towards that ultimate goal.
This spring we are planting more Riesling, Blaufränkisch and Grüner Veltliner within the area of the current deer fence. After adding these rows there will be little room to add anymore vines inside the fence so we will need to expand the fence for any future vine additions.
Unlike our original plantings that were on grafted rootstock, this year we are going to use own-rooted vines with the goal of evaluating them against our grafted vines.
Cover Crop & Compost
We are in the process of moving away from mowed vineyard rows for at least part of the vineyard and towards a permanent cover crop that will include crimson clover, hairy vetch, and a mix of flowers. Under the vines we will be looking to add more compost to replace lost nutrients from the fruit production and improve overall soil organic matter. Given that we don’t irrigate our vines, compost also helps the soil retain moisture.
In an effort to attract more beneficial insects to the vineyard we have planted a combination of flowers around the border of the fence. The original plantings are made up of butterfly weed, bee balm, chamomile, verbena, lupines, coneflower, borage, angelica, lavender, corn poppy, yarrow, crimson clover and hairy vetch.
In addition to the wild flower plantings we have also added insect hotels to help retain the beneficial insects. While this year we purchased lacewing eggs to be added to the wild flower area we would ideally like to get to the point of a self-sustaining population of the bugs we want.
Planning has already begun for next year as well. We are currently looking at expanding the plantings of Riesling, Blaufränkisch and Grüner Veltliner even more. In order to be ready for those by next year we will need to work up the ground, screen out the rocks and plant a cover crop.
Since the current area of vines surrounded by our deer fence will be full we will need to begin to expand the fencing as well. We learned the hard way with the original planting that having a deer fence in our area is a must if you want your vines to survive.