Greg Schultz
 
May 2, 2018 | Greg Schultz

Springtime in the Applegate

 

Cherry blossoms in full bloom

In the vineyard...

Our new mowing crew of 5 Babydoll sheep

Since we don't use herbicide in our vineyard we do lots of mowing, weed eating, and hand digging of grasses and weeds. We've made three passes through the vineyard on the mower to try to keep ahead of our prolific grasses whose growth can be measured in MPH this time of year. Using garden forks we hand dug prickly leaf lettuce and other forbs with large tap roots adjacent to our 1,700 2nd leaf vines. The young plants don't need the competition from the weeds and using a weed-whacker near them is too risky. Weed-whacking has been limited to the east end of the vineyard which we will plant this summer. We've just introduced Babydoll sheep to the vineyard. They are great little mowers and fertilizers and are another step toward our goal of biodynamic farming!

Tempranillo vine after first pruning

May 15th is historically the last frost date for our area. Many growers have mechanical means of protecting their fragile buds using either water sprays or large wind machines. We have neither, so we use cultural practices to minimize risk. By delaying the start of pruning until mid-March, we effectively push bud break out a few weeks. We also break our pruning into two passes. The first pass removes the bulk of last year's brush leaving five to seven buds on each spur. During the second pass which begins in mid-May, we will trim each spur down to the desired two bud level. The thinking is that if a late spring frost does kill some buds we have extras. Our last cultural practice is to keep the grass mowed between the vine rows. Frost tends to settle into low spots including tall grassy areas. By keeping the grass short we hope the colder air will naturally flow toward our creek bottom and away from the vines. Finally, on the coldest nights knowing we've done our best, we say a prayer and go to bed!

On the farm...

One of our neighbors needed a place to graze 12 cow-calf pairs and a bull for a few months. We have about 20 acres of pasture that needed to be grazed. They have been here a few weeks and seem to be very happy. We love having them here--they are fun to watch and are great for the pasture. On our animal camera we were able to photo another cow wandering onto our farm--this one of the elk variety.

 

In the winery...

We have lots of bottling coming up this summer including our very first estate Tempranillo. We are working with our graphic artist John Hiemenz on a new label and a few updates and are hoping to get them approved soon. Very exciting!

 

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