Cover Crops - Beautiful Necessity
From a visitor's point of view, the just-pruned vines snaking over dazzling yellow mustard is a photo opportunity no one can resist. But, the cover crop also plays a very important role in the cultural practices of the vineyard--its selection fills the nutritional needs of the vines.
We analyze leaf samples to determine what nutrition the vines need to produce optimum quality fruit. Once the crop dies down, it is tilled into the soil and decomposes to provide a natural flow of nutrients to the roots of the vines.
Sometiems we plant red clover, vetch or beans as they replentish nitrogen to feed the workhorse leaves, which help create our luscious graphes. The cover crop performs an essential process in our certified organically farmed vineyard.
- Wayne O'Connell
Director of Vineyard Practices
Winter Vineyard Activities and Cycles
November - Cover Crop Emerges
The vineyard cycle starts with seeding the cover crop, which will nourish and balance the vines naturally. The cover crop is either cut or tilled under in the spring and composts into the soil.
December/January - Early Pruning Apple, Olive, and French Gate Blocks
Early pruning pushes the bud breaks to happen earlier. Past vintages were challenged by cool summers and early fall rainfall. By pruning 4-6 weeks earlier, we hope to ripen earlier and produce consistent quality. We wait on the Creek Block because it lies lower and its buds will be susceptible to spring frost.
February - Dramatic Weather in Dormant Vineyards
In February, the vines rest. Winter storms bring beautiful photo ops. Dramatic weather creates amazing vistas in the dormant vineyards.
We are right next to the Dry Creek and these wonderful rains can quickly turn the creeks into raging torrents. Our crew is on standby in case we need to bring in sandbags to protect the vines.
Top photo by Decanter Society member, Debbie South during a visit from Oklahoma City
Coming in next issue: The Art of Pruning. You'd be surprised how much pruning is impacted by soils, weather, age of the vines, varietal and more.