Greg Schultz
 
June 18, 2017 | Greg Schultz

Lost and Found

 

Schultz Glory Oaks

Looking southwest across our vineyard.  Photo by Kellie Halstead

It drives me crazy to lose something. I will go to great lengths to re-trace my steps, look in every possible place, open every drawer. Admittedly, this is after my first try of "Honey, have you seen my...?" This is why I am so excited that I found my hammer. In 2014 we installed three acres of vineyard trellising by hand. Our tools consisted of a post pounder, gloves, ear plugs, mouth guard, tape measure, 100' of wire, and a hammer. Each day we would mark out rows, pound in line stakes, and tap in pencil rods. At the end of each day we would gather our tools and take them to the garage. Then one day my hammer turned up missing. I remembered putting it down beside a recently installed line stake. How hard could it be for me to find it? Apparently quite hard. Days went by. I started to think that maybe I left it somewhere else. Years went by. Whenever we had anyone helping us in the vineyard, I'd tell them to be on the lookout for my hammer. Last week I mowed the part of the vineyard that the sheep had been in (see last month's blog). I was going slowly along the trellis of row 90, and something caught my eye near a line stake. Could it be? I hopped off the mower, pushed a little grass aside, and there it was--my hammer! I'm going to clean it up, and I paint the handle bright orange! 

My hammer--three years later

The sheep left us on May 20th after spending seven weeks mowing our vineyard grass and fertilizing next year's vines. We enjoyed their stay and were sorry to see them go but there were a few problems. I naively assumed the sheep would honor the rows and trellis wires and move with them, not against them. No. The lowest wire where the irrigation tubing hangs is a perfect height for a shedding sheep to rub and scratch off their winter coats. Thankfully, we had them isolated to the east end of the vineyard where we have infrastructure installed but no vines yet. I spent eight hours repairing the broken irrigation lines and one broken trellis wire. No big deal really, and a further plus, there is enough wool in the vineyard to knit a sweater or two.

The same day the sheep left, the Boer goats arrived. Ern Russell of Hungry Goats for Hire brought out 23 adults and one kid. We knew better than to let goats in the vineyard because they eat nearly everything. Our goal with them is to have them eat our invasive blackberries, teasel, and weeds from elsewhere on the farm. They are doing a great job and are fun to watch. As with the sheep, our main responsibility is feeding the guard dogs. Ern brought Meg and Zeus, two Maremma Sheepdogs to watch over the goats. Great dogs!

Goats and Meg

We finished thinning the Tempranillo and Malbec just in time to begin shoot positioning. Overall the vines look healthy, but have a bit of late season frost damage, and a few Malbec vines are mysteriously dying.  I'm going to increase the watering in the Malbec block to rule out that as a potential issue. According to Ewe Meier's grapevine growth stage chart, our vines are in Principal growth stage 6: Flowering. As with the earlier budbreak, the Malbec vines are about one week ahead of the Tempranillo. It will be interesting to see if this holds true for the season. The history of Tempranillo, and in fact its very name, is based on it being an early-ripening varietal. We shall see.

3rd leaf Malbec flowering 

We have been steadily working to get the vineyard ready for the arrival of total of 1,700 Viognier and Petit Verdot vines. We expected them from the nursery two weeks ago but were told that the required regulatory testing for getting plants from California into Oregon was taking longer than normal. Agricultural areas are very careful to not move diseases and pests around, hence a lot of testing and verification required. With the extra time we should be ready. And in any case, we have more irrigation repairs to make.

Vineyard ready for new planting


 

Our 2017 bottling is expected to begin next week. First we'll bottle Chardonnay and Pinot gris, and our very first estate wine: our 2016 Tempranillo Rosé--yay! A bit later, we'll bottle our 2015 Merlot and Syrah. The 2016 reds have another year to age in the barrel and are smelling and tasting great.

One day closer...

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