The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts students helped us once again in October 2011. Fifteen students and one Chef Bob, the instructor, picked four acres of Pinot Gris and to top that, they prepared a fabulous farm feast afterwards! Our good friends Cec and Robert pitched in to pick the Pinot meunier as well.
Sheep and vineyard management
The Babydoll Southdowns graze in the Pinot Noir vineyard. They have learned that eating grape leaves can give a sheep an upset stomach. Their favorite foods: bindweed, alfalfa, dandelions, burdock, mullein, mallow, and other forbes (a broadleaf herbaceous plant); are the plants we want to minimize. They also keep the grass trimmed in the row.
The one acre of Pinot Noir has been whittled down to a half acre due to Leafroll 3 virus. We removed the vines with a mini-x this winter.
Preparing to replant
Too much spare parts viticulture! Pruning grapes takes up a large share of our summer farmwork. The pinots usually suffer winter and/or spring damage. This year we will have a crop at least!
Teens on Farms is a local effort that puts teens to work on farms. Just like the name says. We were pleased with their help in the asparagus, berries, and most recently working in the vineyard.
The job was tough work. Vines were buried in heaps of soil. Irrigation poly and sprinklers lay on the ground tangled with five sets of wire. Justin helped us straighten out the infrastructure but we were still left with deep ditches to fill.
To improve the soil and make a good bed for future grape planting, the Teens on Farms added a layer of alfalfa hay as they shoveled and Wink bladed with the tractor. It was a good couple of days of work.
We highly recommend Calvin and his group of young workers. If you have farm work that needs doing in the North Fork, Teens on Farms can help out!
Last year winter damaged our vineyard. Many of the clusters were secondary or tertiary buds. The vines protect themselves from fatal frost damage by having three dormant buds inside a compound bud. If the primary bud, which bears the most fruit, is damaged then the secondary bud takes over. If the first and second are kaput, then the third bud will produce only leaves.
We don't know how much winter damage we have, and spring isn't over yet either. Historically May 31 is our last freeze date.
For more information and latent bud photos, go to the Western Colorado Research Center website to download the pdf.