Sunday, May 10, 2009

Young Oak Vineyards - Volume 33: Mother's Day Edition

Happy Mother's Day All You Mom's Out There!

Hope all you Moms got pampered with breakfast in bed, spa days, flowers, chocolates, nice dinners, gifts, etc. for all the hard work you do all year round!  

I am finally over the worst cold ever!  I lost my entire spring break laying around being ill and I have had bronchitis every since (no fun!).  But hey, that didn't stop from being in the news again.  This time I'm in the San Jose Mercury about losing my current teaching job (getting pink slip'ed) due to an $11 million cut in my school district's budget (East Side Union High School District):  Mercury Archives

But back here at the vineyard, since we live in a grassland/oak forest area with a lot of housing in and around, we have to be concerned with fire safety.  Remember the Oakland Hills Fire back in 1991, which killed 25 people & injured 150 others.  Over 3,350 homes burned down, 437 apartment/condominium units were lost and more than 1,500 acres were destroyed. The economic loss was estimated at $1.5 billion.

Weed-wackingtm is a way of life up here in the hills.  You have to maintain a clearance of any flammable materials around your home.  And this series of rain storms followed by warm weather, as in "April showers, bring May flowers", has also brought a whole bunch of new weeds!  So even though we have wacked down everything around our house & vineyard earlier this Spring, the weeds are back & as tall as ever!  Above, you can see my new crop of thistle, mustard grass & miscellaneous weeds!

This time, as we wack down the weeds in the vineyard, we will prune off the spare trunk of the grapevines & stake the remaining trunk up to the trellis wires. Additionally, we have already trouble shot our water system, so now, all we have to do is sit back and watch things grow!

Speaking of growing, take a look at this picture of the vines on ConcepcĂ­on Road in Los Altos Hills that I took on my way to the grocery this afternoon.  A month back you could see the bare spurs on the cordons, and now the fruiting canes are growing out of the spurs with a lot of vigor!  I have not seen how they keep their weeds down, but notice how they keep them closely cropped to the ground.

Quite a few posts ago, I mentioned that there are beneficial weeds that can be seeded between grapevine rows.  This is known as "cover cropping", which suppress the more aggressive weeds, while protecting the soil & inhibiting destructive insects.  Well, thanks to Mark Vernon, COO of Ridge Vineyards, my neighbor extraordinaire, I have received an thorough report on the practice of "cover cropping" by David Gates, Ridge VP of Vineyard Operations (David also made the rootstock/clone recommendations for our vineyard).  This is something I am going to try over the next winter, so that a "cover crop" sprouts up for the 2010 Spring!

David uses this and other sustainable methods at the Ridge vineyards.  Checkout Ridge's website for further information about sustainable vineyard management.  It is very impressive website with lots of information about their wines, vineyards and facilities.  I have added a link on my side-bar as well here in this blog post:

So, now that the growing season has started, all I have to do is watch the grapevines grow, right?  That will give me a little more time to do a some work on "This Old Damn House!?" (Isn't that the name of the show?)  However, I do have to fit in a hip replacement operation on June 24th, so the length of my recovery will determine when things get done.  My project list for this summer runs something like this:

*complete installation of track lighting in master bedroom
*install pocket door in master bathroom
*install new slider closet mirrored doors for Suzie & Katie
*install closet organizers for Suzie & Katie
*install new front path and landing for front door
*install terraced vegetable garden
*dig my own grave & bury myself !!!

From down in the vineyard, John