When we decided to plant an additional space with Pinot Noir grapes, we opted to plant bare rootstock and then, after a year, graft on the grape clone in the field. The rootstock is buried under a mound of dirt to keep it moist and protected from the elements. Once the rootstock begins to bud and grow leaves, it is necessary to uncover the plant from the mound to prevent mildew. This job is normally contracted through our vineyard manager, Ulises Valdez, to be done by vineyard workers. We talk a lot about how important the vineyard workers are to us and how difficult it would be to step in and do the job they do. We don’t have the stamina to do a lot of their work or the skill and expertise to do the job in the most effective and efficient way. But Clay and I decided that this was a job that not only we could do, but should do.
There are approximately 750 plants in the east block, also referred to as Block 5 or Celeste’s block. At each and every plant, we had to dig away the mounded dirt, clean it from the root and give the plant a gentle shake to remove any clinging soil. These plants are short. That meant a lot of bending.
Clay and I worked from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. to complete the block. We guessed that a couple of experienced vineyard workers could have done it in a couple of hours. When we calculated the cost of hiring personnel to do the work and measured that against a full day of our time plus the pain, suffering and moaning, it doesn’t look that good on paper.
But doing the work ourselves? Priceless.