For those of you, who like us, grow a few vines at home, we’ll be publishing a few tips on our blog on how we do things here in our vineyards. This post, we’ll cover some of the maintenance that happens this time of year, along with the beginnings of how we propagate vines.
Vine Pulling and Maintenance
We’re getting into that season where we’re thinking ahead to next year. In the vineyard, once Harvest is finished, we get lots of maintenance done, including wire repair, and pulling out any plants that are getting a little too old or unproductive. We make sure to keep an eye out for any vines that are not healthy during the summer, mark them, and we come back to pull them out and replace them.
We often tell visitors how deep a vine’s root system goes, and you really notice when you try and pull one up: this normally takes a tractor and at least two people to do it properly. You’ll see here that Kyle and Harold are working together to secure the vine for the tractor to rip it out.
Now that the vine is out of the ground, we wait at least year for the soil to recover, and then plant the following spring.
Beginning to Propagate
Depending on the vine in question, we either order in vines from a propagator (oftentimes, vinifera and other vines require grafting to grow properly: an explanation for another time), or we can propagate them ourselves if we have access to the vines we’re looking for more of.
If we’re propagating in-house, which we are for our new plantings of Baco Noir, we head outside and start pruning! We clip off this year’s healthiest canes from our best plants, making sure that each cutting has multiple buds on it for new growth to spring from. We’ll go into more detail in a few months when we prune the rest of the vineyard.
Once we’ve harvested as many of these clippings from the vineyard, it’s time to store them! We’ll start allowing them to grow as we get into the spring, but for the time being, we need to keep them safe.
“Safe” means well hydrated. A dry cutting could freeze and die over the winter, so it’s very important to keep them covered, cool (but not too cold), and damp. There are lots of ways to achieve this, but we used large containers with layers of water and paper to retain moisture, and then sealed it all in with plastic bags. They then pack them away in the barn where the temperature doesn’t drop too cold in the winter months.
We’ll revive the vines in the spring, and get going on planting shortly thereafter. You’ll hear from me again in a few months where we’ll pick up where we left off with our Baco Noir vines. I’d tell you more, but I’m learning this all for the first time too!