Thank You Rowan! One of the worst jobs in the vineyard, at least that I’ve had to do, is clearing stones from the space between the rows of vines. One of the traits of our vineyard is that the ground is exceptionally stony. The entire valley is probably an ancient river bed, and while this is good in terms of piling rocks and stones under the vines to reflect the heat back up on to the grapes, and intensify the ripening, it’s murder on equipment. I never thought, for instance, that the mere planting of ornamental grasses would entail the use of not just a long-handled shovel, but a crowbar and pick-axe, and this just to dig a hole about 10cm in diameter. When Colin has to create major holes, such as for my clothesline, or the new trellis we’re putting up to break the wind around the orchard (or to bury the paua and kina guts deep from marauding dog and cat), it’s a major excercise.
In the vineyard, we’ve had to completely replace the mower because the blades from the old one were stonkered from chomping through so many stones and rocks. Therefore, starting with in the viognier, we had been going down the rows on hands and knees, clearing away the stones. It takes seemingly for ever, is back-breaking, and hip-destroying.
Then along came Rowan with my life-saver – a roller which fits between the rows. Of course, when he first hired it, the rain determinedly stayed away and the ground was too hard to press, but early this morning we had a good shower, and here’s the champion of the morning at work:
See how much the grapes have sprouted in the last week. When you look out across the vineyard now, it’s very definitely green. Everyone in the village always asks, “Do you think it will be a good vintage again in 2009?” Well we just don’t know, and that’s one of the exciting, if nail-biting, things about having a vineyard. So far, the pointers are good. We have the frosts under control. But there’s a long way to go yet – two weeks’ rain in February or March and it’s goodnight nurse. Hush, I better not tempt the weather demons.