Planting the past for the future

After two weeks passed we finally finished planting our mix of 17 varieties (“Alter Fränkischer Satz”). A few hundred years back this used to be the standard way of planting a vineyard. A mix of varieties increases the diversity and decreases the chance of a bad harvest – if two varieties perform badly there are still 15 left. Melanie and I liked the idea of diversity a lot but also fell in love with some of these historic varieties from our area: Adelfränkisch, Vogelfränkisch, Lagler, Kleinberger, Bukettrebe, Heunisch, … Discovering the existence of these varieties felt like opening a treasure chest.

The plot is about half a hectare is size next to our garden. There are no farming neighbors. It’s west facing, really warm. A decent layer of clay at the top and the bottom mixed with rather solid stones. The middle section is pretty steep with the youngest generation of shell limestone, almost Keuper and no clay so all a bit more loose and dry.

There were about 2,300 holes to dig which Nick and I did by hand. The hardened clay was cruel. First to get through the surface, second to find loose soil to close the hole. But it was an incredibly educational exercise. You truly know every corner of that vineyard after digging all these holes.

Second task was to carry planting soil to the holes. It was about 12t of soil we had to carry to the holes using buckets – there is no other way in a steep vineyard but using a tractor. And we didn’t want to drive around with a big machine in that young field.

A good part of the holes was then fed with a few Bokashi pellets before the plant was put in the soil. We had made a sophisticated plan where to put which variety upfront: like reds in the middle and Riesling on the side (because of the birds), frost sensitive varieties to the top, varieties disliking wind to the bottom, varieties preferring rocky soil in the middle, … it was quite a puzzle!

The holes were then watered with about 10l of water mixed with 2% of EM.

And then we finally could close the holes with whatever soil we did find.

And here is the list of varieties we did plant (so far – there might be 2-3 more added later on):

  • Adelfränkisch
  • Blauer Silvaner
  • Bukettrebe
  • Elbling
  • Gelber Muskateller
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Grauburgunder
  • Grüner Silvaner (but a clone close to Gelber Silvaner)
  • Grüner SIlvaner
  • Heunisch
  • Kleinberger
  • Riesling
  • Roter Muskateller
  • Spätburgunder
  • Vogelfränkisch
  • Weißburgunder
  • Weißer Lagler

The last vine was watered with a bottle of wine – the last wine harvested from the vineyard before it had been ripped out: Black Betty. About 30 years ago I had done that with my grandpa in this place and now it was time for Oskar to do it with my dad.

And finally a big thank you to this incredible planting crew: Jule, Melanie, Sabine Nick and Sebar!


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