Oh the weather outside is frightful.. Actually, no snow quite yet but the first hard frost of the fall has taken me back to memories of last winter. That and the sweet sounds of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and Dean Martin reverberating through my tiny laptop speakers. I know I’m jumping the gun on the music, but November 1st is nearly here and who can help but get excited!? Not to mention we just spent a glorious weekend celebrating the birthday of my smiling’ brother-in-law in the middle of the picture below, who actually starts making FB posts about Christmas music and snow in October and makes me wonder if I have found someone who rivals my joy for the beloved holiday.
It’s always good to think about the upcoming winter when you are managing a vineyard. Vines all around this great state will soon be hardening off with the soil around them soaking up the moisture and nutrients from everyone’s favorite four-letter winter wonderland word… SNOW. Does anyone remember the winter of 2013 here in Missouri? We experienced a little…
Associated Press- “Deadly winter storm wallops Midwest with snow and ice causing major traffic problems”- Published February 21, 2013
Relentless snowstorms in February halted progress in digging but provided MUCH needed moisture to the soil which we could not complain about. The snow seemed to have knack for gracing us with its presence on weekends, and after we had about 500 holes punched we could not seem to find a dry time to finish. We never dreamed those holes or even the ground surrounding would receive the benefit of that much snow, and then…
USA TODAY – “Endless winter: Snowstorm hits Midwest, mid-Atlantic” March 25, 2013
Yes, it was the weekend of Palm Sunday in late March when we looked at the weather report but still made the trip home because those holes weren’t going to dig themselves and weather people are wrong all the time… But not this time.
Snow in late March? You betcha. It was at this point that we had around 650 holes dug and we needed to contact the nursery to let them know when to ship the plants as April was approaching. Originally, we had planned on a mid-April shipment and planting. Because of the late snows and holes that still only existed in our imagination, it had to be delayed as long as possible. Planting too far into May can be risky as it usually warms up considerably in Missouri, but we needed to let the holes weather before planting, which we couldn’t do because of the constant moisture. Farming.
Eventually, we did finish the holes in mid-April, with at least two to three weeks of weathering (not quite months, but perfectly executed plans are not our specialty). We set the ship date for April 22 (earth day, of course) and a planting weekend of April 28. We feared this would be a little late as the weather (usually) makes a turn for the warmer and rain tapers off in May. Little did we know..
Weather.com- “Winter Storm Achilles: Historic May Snow” Published: May 4, 2013
What a winter (and spring)! The copious amounts of snow and torrential downpours we experienced were vital for the growth of everything in our area. It was remarkable to see the world come back to life after the drought of the previous year. In fact, the four of us have discussed that if we had attempted this in 2012, given the conditions, it would have most likely failed right out of the gate. Sun baked plants cooking on a parched landscape more reminiscent of Tatooine than Missouri. What a difference a year can make! All the delays of snow and moisture allowed for optimal weathering of our holes and delaying the shipment prevented our plants from experiencing the frosts that occurred between April 15 and 24. Trial and error, delays, improvising, and general tinkering are commonplace around here, but we always try to avoid missing the forest for the trees. Perhaps more appropriately, seeing the vineyard for the vines.
Through it all, we have plants in the ground that are doing quite well and the venture is progressing, all according to an ever-evolving “plan”. No offense to Vines to Wines, but THE Book is always our guide as this process continues and never do we attribute things to chance; be it the weather, our land, our decisions, or our relationships. When we are in the vineyard tending to the grapes amongst the thriving world around us, I like to pause and take it all in; a scene in front of my very eyes that can take a belief that can seem metaphysical and put it into reality, warm to the senses and reassuring that it’s not just the plants that are alive.