Spring on the Ranch
It's officially springtime at Hallberg Ranch! After unseasonably warm winter nights, spring 2015 came very early, with bud break occurring almost three weeks earlier than last year. Early bud break means a longer period of time we have to worry about frost, and there have been several worrisome nights, but so far so good! Visitors often ask what we do during this time of year for the upcoming vintage. Here are some of the things we've been up to:
The sheep spent several weeks amongst the vines keeping weed growth in check, but now that we have our first leaves, the sheep have been removed because they love nibbling on them!
We have mowed and disc-ed the cover crop (the plants that grow between the vines). We mow every other row and disc every other row. Disc-ing the cover crop is a form of composting where the plants on top are turned over into the dirt, releasing nutrients into the soil and improving soil tilth. The rows that are a home for "good bugs" which feed on the bad ones and help maintain a healthy ecosystem in the vineyard.
We also have begun head-suckering. Suckering is one of the methods we use to balance how much the vine wants to grow and how much fruit we want to vine to produce, and ripen. Suckering is removing unwanted growth that has emerged on the vine. This allows for better air circulation and better stronger shoots to support the fruit that will appear in a few more weeks.
It's going to be an interesting season that keeps us on our toes!
Shoots beginning to grow on the vines. There is also the very beginning of what will become grape clusters!
The sheep spent several weeks amongst the vines keeping weed growth in check