Vineyard Child Care
August 1, 2013–As parents of two young children, Paul and I know a lot about child care. In addition to our own, this year we are taking care of 400 one-year-old vines.
A top priority since purchasing Silver Thread two years ago has been to improve the yield of the vineyard. A big obstacle to doing that is the large number of empty spaces in our seven-acre site. We estimated last year that about 10% of the vineyard was “blank”–i.e. vines had died from cold damage, disease, getting eaten by wildlife or “tractor blight” (accidental death by farm equipment). We took a big step forward this spring by re-planting the empty spaces in most varieties (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay and some Pinot Noir).
Our baby vines were grafted onto root stock a year and a half ago at Hermann J. Wiemer nursery. They spent last summer spreading their roots in the ground at the Wiemer nursery before being dug up and over-wintered in Wiemer’s root cellar. We planted the one-year-old vines at our vineyard in May.
Baby vines require a lot of care– hand-planting, hand watering, hand hoeing to fight off weeds, and tying up to a stake to encourage a vertical growth habit. We have taken the additional step of using grow tubes to protect the vines planted in high deer-traffic areas.
We hope the vines will grow up to the trellising this year. Next year, they may even produce a small amount of fruit. But it will most likely be during year 3 (2015 vintage) that we will see a noticeable increase in our vineyard yield from these new vines.
Next year, will will complete the re-plant with Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir (one of our clones–“Clos Vougeot”–was custom grafted at the
nursery this year). We will also be adding about 6 new rows of vines– more Riesling and also some Merlot so that Blackbird can be 100% estate grown in the near future.
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The superiority of your wines reflects the tremendous care and hard work you put into your winery. Keep up the great work!