Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

First Fruit

October 4, 2012

First Harvest: September 26, 2012

We tucked our Petit Manseng grapes safely into netting once verasion (ripening) began to keep it safe from birds. Last year the mockingbirds had a field day on the fruit, inviting in other birds from who knows where to ravage the grapes. I could see the clusters behind the netting but not very well. So it was a bit like Christmas when I removed the netting and saw beautiful, clean clusters of Petit Manseng fruit.

Picking Petit Manseng clusters

Rebecca and I harvested the gifts, enjoying the feel of the beautiful clusters in our hands. I left some small little clusters for the mockingbirds. All year they monitored the vineyard, made nests in the vines, and ate lots of insects. It seems fitting that they should have a little fruit, though Scott points out that they have more fruit than they can eat over in the compost pile of pressed grape skins. I still think they may enjoy hopping around in the vines and picking out a berry or two.

Close up of Petit Manseng fruit

Each vine yielded nearly 5 pounds of fruit, on two trunks with 4 or 5 shoots to the two canes along the fruiting wire. This is vertical shoot positioning (VSP) on canes. Our amazing vineyard consultant, Lucie Morton, showed us how to prune the vines in March for this French method. Lucie came out several times in the spring to demonstrate how to prune the canopy for the least amount of disease pressure. What we are looking for is balance in the vineyard with each vine taking up its space and not its neighbors. Openness in the canopy is important for light and air circulation.

Into the press!

Two of our Tasting Room pourers, Sarah C and Sarah T, as well as our family friend Mahaut from France helped me work among the vines this year as we attempted to get closer to the ideal balance among the vines. When the vineyard reflects this balance, it is lovely to behold. It is not a one time endeavor but, like most of life, it requires ongoing focus.


Grapes Gone Wild

June 5, 2012

The third year Petit Manseng vines have grown into a real vineyard in the past month! Of course this is completely normal, but we still weren’t expecting such a big difference between the 2nd and 3rd year (or “leaf”). They’re now cordon trained along wires and bearing so much fruit that we have to go through and cluster thin. Since Petit Manseng is a super vigorous grower, we’re leaf pulling the canopy a little bit to allow more air movement.

Here’s a look at the evolution of the past few months:

March 28th: Budbreak

May 9th: Flowers

May 23rd: Fruit Set

June 2nd: Leaf Pulling & Cluster Thinning

A Mockingbird has decided to nest in the canopy and is not too happy about her hiding spot being revealed..

Signs of Spring: Bluebirds

March 10, 2010

This morning a small group of bluebirds came through the property. It’s always exciting to see these cheerful little birds.  Bluebirds represent and remind me of truth and happiness.  I’m sure my 7th grade English teacher Mrs. Evelyn Gott would be surprised that one of her students is still inspired by the little book “The Bluebird of Happiness”.  Unfortunately it is no longer in print, but we found one that looks equally memorable.  “The Bluebird of Happiness: A Little Book of Cheer” by Vicki Howard is a collection of vintage postcards and quotes that are sure to get you in the mood for Spring.

The Virginia Bluebird Society reports that in 2008 over 1000 bluebird babies successfully fledged from 33 bluebird trails in Albermarle County!  I used to monitor a bluebird trail on a golf course in Montgomery County Maryland.  The most wonderful sight was to see fledglings up in a tree. There were so many enemies on that bluebird trail: snakes, raccoons, house sparrows. Many eggs, infants and even adults just didn’t make it.

I’m wondering: Could I have several bluebird boxes successfully on our property?  We don’t seem to have raccoons or snakes but I wonder about house sparrows from the nearby Piedmont Store, and also the energetic little house wrens that are are present this winter.

Bluebirds are insect eaters so they wouldn’t bother the grapes.