Friday, February 22, 2008

Winter Update in the Vineyard from Sam

Despite the consistently cold winter, I'm remaining optimistic thanks to the abnormally wet season. The two biggest challenges we face growing winegrapes in Colorado are winter-kill, when cold winter temperatures kill the vines to the ground and must be trained up from the roots; and high levels of salt in the soil, which grapevines are particularly sensitive to. The high moisture we've had has a positive effect on both. Having a soil profile that doesn't dry out during the four months we don't irrigate relieves the vines of additional stress during cold spells, and it also helps to leech the salts out of the top layers of soil. Winters are a good reminder that Colorado is a difficult grape growing region. Despite my optimism, we won't really know how the winter has affected the plants until the spring comes and the vines wake up, or don't. The next step in the vineyard is pruning. Pruning is key to determining your crop load for the upcoming season. By spacing the budspurs along the vine we are hoping to balance the amount of vegetative growth and the amount of clusters one vine will produce. We first have a pre-pruner come through and chop last year’s new growth. We then go back through and do the final pruning by hand. We will finish this process, hopefully, when the first Chardonnay buds start pushing out their new shoots. If anyone finds themselves in Palisade, look me up and I'd be glad to show anyone the grape growing process firsthand. Check this out...for a video of the pre-pruning in action click here.

Samuel Stetser
Vineyard Manager
BookCliff Vineyards

No comments: