Remember the old commercial from Paul Mason? : “We will make no wine before it’s time”. Well – theses days…I certainly have a whole new appreciation for that saying! There are some things that just take time, and grapes, grapevines and the resulting wine and jellies are certainly one of them. If you read our blog, you may remember back about a month ago, when during our first heat wave and dry spell – our tender little 1″ to 2″ grape plants arrived in a UPS box. To say we were worried about planting them in such conditions was an understatement. The temperature soared to 100 for the two days after we planted them – with no rain in sight. We planted them – we mulched them – and we watered every morning and night for the first two weeks. The plants certainly struggled – with two of them even losing most of the little leaves they had….but through all this heat and dryness – they have somehow started to grow. In fact – about a month ahead of schedule, last week we had to stake each small plant and begin the long process of training the vines up.
We currently have (3) full 80′ rows of Marquette (wine) grapes – and one 80′ row of the Concord (jellies and jams) established. In the first part of August – the plan is to sink large end posts at the end of each row, along with a few more in between – and string across a low galvanized trellis wire about a 1.5 feet above each row. We will then tie off the plants and get them to grow as high as they can until the end of the year. Then next season – we hope to add wires 2 (about 3 feet off the ground) and 3 (about 5 feet off the ground) to the posts. Hopefully by the end of year two – with some good pruning and training – the grapes will have reach the 3rd wire and we can begin to let them canopy and fill in.
It is a long, drawn out process – but one we hope will pay off in some great jellies, jams and of course wine in the future. If all goes to plan – we may be able to pick some small yields of grapes by season 3 – but it will be at least four years before we can make our wine.
So – there is something to be said about the quick crops like lettuce and radishes that you can plant and eat within 45 days. Then there are the tomatoes we patiently wait for each year to ripen over the course of a few months after planting. But when it comes to grapes…grapes are surely the “gotta have” patience crop! We will begin next year the same way as this year – planting a final three more rows of Marquette grapes up the hill – and beginning the plant’s long journey to wine as well. So I guess for now we will have to make our motto : “We will make no wine before we have grapes!”
Jim and Mary