During the extreme winter we experienced in the Northeast this year, we all had a bit of cabin fever. Many of us looked forward to the warmer weather and possibly to a summer vacation or two. But is this just a pipe dream for a home vineyard grower? In a number of the books I read about viticulture, they spoke of the importance of walking the vineyard daily and taking note of changes that may require your immediate attention. Well if you were to follow this instruction, your life during the summer months would revolve around your vineyard. Don't get me wrong, my vineyard is my way to decompress and change gears from life's daily stresses; but it does not dictate my daily activities. Obviously, if you are a vineyard manager for a major winery, it probably does dictate your life; as it should. It is your job. But home vineyard management is not your job. It is your hobby. For me, once something becomes too much like work it is no longer enjoyable. Don't let your hobby become something you have to do versus something you love to do.
So how do you take a vacation and still ensure a healthy crop that will produce a quality wine? It comes down to proper planning. Just like I've mentioned in another blog about creating a spray schedule and sticking to it, you need to do proper vineyard preparation prior to your scheduled vacation. I walk my vineyard and do an assessment prior to going away on vacation. Do I need to do some more tying, hedging, cultivation, shoring up the deer screens, or spraying? I create a list and divvy up the work between the vineyard manager and his staff. This equates to me and my two boys. Dad, however, always seems to do the bulk of the grunt work. Go figure. It is interesting times we live in. I remember when my father told me to do something ... OK, that's a discussion on a totally different topic.
We just recently went on a week long vacation to Hamburg and Copenhagen. Both cities are quite beautiful and offer a lot of history and site seeing opportunities. The food's not bad either! I was looking forward to tasting the local Riesling in Germany. Did I mention it is one of my favorite white wines? Riesling is the major grape grown there and Germany is highly regarded for its Riesling wines. I tried a number of different ones while we were there. I found them all very similar in being not highly aromatic and having a flinty finish. The flinty finish is indicative of the slate based strata that is common in the area. Was I blown away by the German Rieslings I tasted? Unfortunately, I was not. I have to say that I find that the New York Riesling wines are more highly aromatic; typically with aromas of peach and/or tropical fruits. They also typically have a crisp and clean finish that I truly enjoy. I turned my attention to the local wheat beers. Score! By the way, we were there during the World Cup when Germany won. Very cool.
So after a week long European vacation — no Chevy Chase wasn't there — we returned home. We were very jet lagged and weary from all the walking we did site seeing. Did all my vineyard pre-planning work out? Well the vineyard was still there. A good thing. Was there a ton of work to do? You bet. We happened to have a bunch of rain and very warm weather while we were away. This is the recipe for a lot of vegetative growth. Compound it with that rain being in the form of heavy thunderstorms, and I had my work cut out for me. Lots of weeds, shoot tying, hedging, and so on. But in the end, all still looks good....