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).
Each baby vine is staked, tied and hoed for weed control.
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.
Grow tubes protect Cabernet Franc babies from deer damage.