Greg Schultz
May 21, 2016 | Greg Schultz

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

There's lots to cheer about this month. There have also been a few problems...

The Good

Two significant "firsts" occurred this month. The first first was the initiation of a spraying program for our 3rd leaf Tempranillo vines. Last month's blog was largely about certifying our vineyard according to LIVE standards (Low Impact Viticulture and Enology) while leaning toward organic methods. Grapes and grapevines are susceptible to various fungi and mildew. An effective spray program protects the developing plant and fruit. We have now had our first 3 sprays, all on the LIVE list and approved for organic foods.

The second first occured on Sunday, May 22nd as we participated in our first UnCorked event--a winetaster's dream-come-true featuring the Applegate Valley vineyards and wineries. For $49, a taster was treated to a self-guided driving tour of 16 venues each featuring two wines and bites designed to thrill. We paired our 2012 Mission Viognier with crustless spinach quiche and our 2011 Shepherd Syrah with parmesan-topped mushrooms stuffed with spicy sausage, prepared and served by Quality Catering of Medford. Yum!!! Nearly 500 tasters participated, with a majority visiting us.

The Bad

About two weeks after bud break, a significant frost hit our valley. Some vineyards were hit hard, others not at all. We suffered some damage to our tender plants. It's hard to determine the eventual impact of this event. Most damage on our vines was on the lower shoots--the ones that we were going to remove anyway as part of our suckering program. Still, some shoots higher on the vines were killed. We removed as many of these as we could and are hopeful that the secondary shoots will survive and produce fruit.

May 5th Photo of Frost Damaged Shoots

The Ugly

We are very thankful for the rainy/snowy winter in southern Oregon which did much to relieve the ongoing drought we have been experiencing. We learned a lot about our vineyard because of the healthy levels of groundwater. We learned that certain areas drain quickly, others stay wet longer. In April the grassy areas in the vineyard really started to grow. We made several attempts to mow it, each time ending in frustration as the mower got stuck and we had to pull it out with a winch attached to the Gator. Finally, by May 1st, we were able to mow 93 of our 103 rows, but there were 10 rows still with standing water. These rows are dedicated to future expansion (e.g. no vines there today), so my theory is that with vines in the ground sucking up the groundwater, we will not have as big an issue in the future. I very well may be wrong though, that's why it's a theory! :) Finally, on May 16th, I was able to make my way through the last ten rows--but it was indeed ugly.

May 16 Mowing the Last 10 Rows of Grass 6 Feet Tall

Exciting times in the vineyard, and we are one day closer to a harvest...


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