The Winemaker’s Journal: In The Beginning (Wine Grape Grower’s Archives)

iron gate vineyard


Today we are planting the Chambourcin. Major root system and the vines have bud break. I have cautioned all the planters to be very careful with the vines. The post driving crew has finished the main vineyard. We have had one mishap. A post exploded while being driven and struck the operator in the lower stomach. It knocked the breath out of him and he was lying on the ground when we got to him. He refused medical attention and was back at work the next day. We had some of our crew to keep an eye on him overnight and to report any change in his condition. The next day he was at work with a black and blue stomach. These Honduran people are extremely hard working and we are fortunate to have such a good crew.

The post driving crew has moved over to the small experimental vineyard. Only 64 posts in this block. By 6 o’clock we have finished the Chambourcin. We move over to plant the small vineyard. We have 50 vines each of Niagara, Seyval, Viognier and Sangiovese. I was supposed to get 100 vines of Semillon from Sonoma, however, they cancelled my order the day before citing a miscalculation on their part. We have the rows ready to plant, they have our money, we have no vines.

We need to finish planting today. I have promised to do a five mile walk with an my sister and my mother for Multiple Sclerosis on Saturday in support of a family member. That will seem like a walk in the park compared to this. It’s eight o’clock and we’re finished. HALLELUJAH!

Things I’ve Learned

It’s important to have a plan and a backup plan. It would be a tremendous help if you could volunteer to help someone else plant their crop to get an idea of how much work is involved and what resources you need to make planting go smoothly. When I think about all the mistakes we made, a lot of them were decisions made in haste without thinking through the consequences. I had months to put grow tubes together, but I didn’t. I failed to really sit down and go over my planting layout and procedures to see if I had overlooked something. I did not properly provide for my workers or myself with a port-a-jobn. I found it was important for us to have that hour lunch break so we could make it til dark. I learned my body is older and 18 hours a day over 2-3 weeks makes you hurt in places you never hurt before. I also learned my patience was tried to the breaking point and how easily hard words can be spoken when you’re tired and cranky. Hugs and foot massages become the most important things in life.


Most of the lows I’ve already mentioned so let me tell about some of the highs. The day our vines arrived I was scared to death but it was also a very emotional high for me. Here was physical proof of what we had been planning for months, we’re actually going to do this and it was very exciting. Another high was the smell of the vines when I had them in the cellar. I thought it was a very unusual, but wonderful smell. Altogether we were shorted 75 vines and we received them this week. I had an opportunity to plant these vines on Thursday and Friday afternoon. I really enjoyed the solitude and the satisfaction of putting these in the ground myself. I have found I’m very protective of my vines. I have a great sense of expectation and I’m looking forward to my work in the vineyard and the winery. Life is good!


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