Monday, August 31, 2009

Damn Deer

So, I'm a little bummed; hell, I'm a lot bummed. Two weeks I was working through the Chambourcin block at the Naked Creek Vineyard cluster thinning. Chambourcin is a variety that tends to over crop in fertile soils, and if all the clusters are allowed to hang to maturity, the flavor quality will suffer. Cluster thinning is especially important in this vineyard as we are rehabbing the vines, which are not yet back to optimum vigor. Around July 18th, everything was looking pretty good. We had a little black rot, but considering how wet this season has been, I wasn't too concerned. We had probably 15% of the clusters affected with black rot. At that point, I was removing 30-40% of the clusters anyway, so I culled any of the black rot infected clusters. No big deal

Fast forward to last Tuesday, July 25th. I had been busy with work and life and had been away from the vineyard for about a week. I stopped by on the morning of 7/25 to take a look at the vines with the plan of getting back to cluster thinning that afternoon. Well, that didn't pan out. When I walked the rows that morning, ALL of the grapes were gone. I was mortified and had no idea where my grapes had gone. I had been pretty diligent with my spray schedule. Where could my grapes have gone. I took pictures and sent them to another grape grower and to a viticulture expert. Both of them came back with the same answer - wildlife damage. I'm dumbfounded that a herd of deer or turkeys could strip an entire acre of grapes in 5 days but it appears that is what happened. No Chambourcin this year.

Danielle and I decided that we will go ahead and begin our Winter project list which now includes erecting a deer fence. I'm bummed!

On a bright note, we hosted the second Peaks View Animal Hospital Wine and Cheese Pairing party on 8/23 and it was a huge success. We featured Virginia wines and Virginia cheeses. I will write more about the pairings in another post soon.