Planting a new Vineyard
The vineyard is buzzing with activity these days! Not only are the vines bursting with their usual springtime energy, but for the first time at Montemaggiore, we are planting a portion of the vineyard exactly the way we want it! In the past, we've replanted using an existing trellis or we've grafted onto existing rootstock—but last spring we ripped out the vines, irrigation, and trellis of approximately one acre of underperforming Cabernet so that we could replant with Syrah to our exact specifications. Vincent has recruited seven-year-old Paolo to help figure out the perfect row orientation (20 East of North), row spacing (5 feet), vine spacing (4 feet), and trellis height (5 feet) of our newest Syrah vineyard.
We've been working with this patch of the vineyard for almost a year. First, the sheep came in to mow and donate their manure. Then we amended the soil with lime, gypsum and compost in order to improve its fertility, pH, friability and drainage. Over this past winter we grew a leguminous cover crop to add more nutrients. Finally we cultivated the soil to a depth of three feet to loosen it up and ensure that the nutrients were evenly distributed. We're now in the process of putting in the new trellis and irrigation. Over the next couple weeks, we'll plant 1200 Syrah vines (clone 877) and 375 Viognier vines (clone 642) on the drought-tolerant 101-14 rootstock.
Of course, we won't see the fruits of our labor for another four years, and won't drink the wine from that fruit for an additional three years—so check back in 2016 to taste our new creation! Our first harvest from this new vineyard will be in 2013. Not only will we have some more great Syrah to work with, but Lise will also have some estate Viognier for the first time. Our plan is to make and additional Syrah, in a classic northern Rhone style with a touch of Viognier. But perhaps we will also bottle some of the Viognier, as a white wine on its own. There are lots of options, but the best thing about the new vineyard is that the vines, the row orientation, and the trellising will be just what the "padrone" ordered!