A Muddy "To-Do-List"

Sunday, April 17

We are knee deep in mud-season (a.k.a. Spring) here in Shelburne, Vermont!  After this past winter that seemed awfully cold and extra snowy, nothing could put a bigger grin on my face than the fresh scent of sun-drenched, mucky, seed bearing mud. That's the first sign of another season filled with flowers, bees, gardens, and of course grapes. Before I started working here at Shelburne Vineyard in 2009, I would have overlooked this sure sign of brighter, longer days. These past two years have started a fire within me; there was no turning back once I found my niche in life - wine.  From the soil where twisted roots of vines grow, to the rich thought provoking tastes and aromas that rise up from the glass - I am hooked. I spent the winter soaking up as much wine knowledge I could get my hands on via books, articles, and wine competitions. Now that it is spring it’s time to get my hands and my boots dirty. Working with the vines is always a treat, knowing that the work that I am doing in the vineyard has an effect on a wine that someone will be enjoying in years to come, thrills and excites me.

This week I helped Ethan, our vineyard manager, and his assistant, Tommy, check off a few tasks for their spring "to-do list." Bird netting was installed last summer to keep out intruders like turkey, deer and other species of birds. The netting needed to be rolled-up in order to have easy access to the vines.

Meanwhile, Ethan and Tommy cleaned up the pruning debris from the week earlier.  Pruning is essential for organized and tidy vineyard management as well as controlling and ensuring quality fruit for harvest. Pruning also opens up the canopy so that the fruit gets enough sun exposure for full ripening.

After pruning, the vines then need to be tied down. We use rubber ties as well as tapeners to help straighten the trunk of the vine and hold down the arms also known as the cordons. The goal is to have the vine resemble a T.   Again, this is to keep the vineyard tidy and consistent, as well as ensuring an adequate, controllable environment for the fruit to grow and ripen.

I took this picture after a day of tying our La Crescent vines at our vineyard behind the Breeding Barn at the historic Shelburne Farms. The view from the vineyard of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains in the distance will never cease to amaze me. Doing what you love just feels (and tastes) so good!

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Ashley