It’s the time of year when we start to refer to our vineyard as, “The Jungle.” And, when we mean a jungle, we mean we are doing everything we can to TAME the jungle!! It might be small at 2 ½ acres, but it is mighty! After a 2nd time through our vineyard pruning and managing, we literally have to start again at the beginning and start hedging again. Our vines produce a lot of vegetation, and although that is great for producing more grapes…it can also be too much. So, we work on making sure the vines don’t grow too long and cover the grapes. The grape clusters need a certain amount of leaves on each vine to continue to ripen, but they also need to get sunlight and wind to prevent mildew and promote even ripening.
While our jungle is doing its thing, we also continue to mow between the rows and around the vineyard and keep a constant eye out for any pest issues. The grapes will start to turn from green to red in the coming weeks, so we like to try and get our pruning in check as that is happening. Once veraison hits (the fancy word for what I just mentioned above :) ,) our jungle finally starts to slow down and most of the work of the vine goes into ripening the grapes, and less goes into growing the jungle (we look forward to that part. :) )
Since our vineyard is smaller, we manage all of the work with hand tools. So, we walk up and down each row pruning each vine with our trusty pruners or lobber…and, sometimes even throw in a hedger to help us get to our end goal. We learn a lot about our vines this way…it truly is a hands-on approach!
And, as we enter into our 2nd summer of managing our jungle AND selling our wine to retail locations and tasting our wines at events all over…we are still working on finding a good system! For now, we plan ahead as much as we can, and sometimes (most of the time,) just take one day at a time.
It really is a great blend of work, in our opinion. We have the quiet and peace of working in the vineyard and enjoying the Iowa summers, and we also have the relationships and fun at our tastings and retail locations!
So, even if we’re not always in control of “Our Jungle,” we work hard to keep up and enjoy watching it grow! :)
‘Til next time!