May vineyard update: planting in the sun

Vegetation season is in full swing. Joyfully and carefully we select the shoots growing out of spurs, canes and sometimes the trunk to balance each plant’s yield and maintain or even improve the vine’s architecture. The speed of growth has been impressive the last few weeks with summery temperatures almost every day. And the best thing is: no frost this year which after the disaster of 2020 is a relief.

As the vines were waking up so did the whole winery. After a quiet winter of pruning, trellising repairs, hedge trimming, bottling and a few fairs a new vineyard was waiting to be planted. New people were arriving and so did parcels with hybrids ordered two years ago. Our old Müller-Thurgau at the Eherieder Berg was ripped out last year. With the soil being in a wonderful condition – crumbly, full of big earthworms and the smell of mushrooms and the wood after it rained – it just got lightly tilled at the surface. All of the about 1200 holes were dug by hand.

And a mix of Souvignier Gris, Donauriesling, Sauvignac, Blütenmuskateller and Calardis Blanc started populating the slope.

Traditionally the last vine of a newly planted vineyard is “watered” with a bottle of wine made of grapes growing there before and it was a moving moment seeing Nick doing that on his very last day working with us.

Nick’s been with us for – with interruptions – six years. He’s been a tremendous support throughout the time he was here. Strong, thoughtful and always 100% dedicated. He’s now farming the Silvaner that used to become our Wilde Heimat and a plot of Müller. And we’re very excited to see him thrive with his own wines in the future.

But lucky as we are we got a new supersonic core crew with Agathe who did an outstanding job here last harvest and will stay till August and Thomas, a very experienced grower taking over Nick’s part-time position. They’re a fabulous team.

And although the vineyard was looking like a sad, brown piece of land as we were planting it’s going to become another agroforestry setup with fruit trees and veggies co-managed by our lovely neighbor Sigrid who’s about to open a flower farm right next to the vineyard. Give it a couple of months and it will have a very different face.

Next was the vineyard now known as apple tree vineyard which suffered badly from spring and winter frost and the drought the year it was planted. Many gaps to fill here and thank god we had ordered hybrids way in advance because after last years mildew party hybrids became a lot more popular and are sold out till 2024 already(!) There were further gaps to close in the garden vineyard, the Pinot Gris, the Riesling and the Heimat Silvaner – we ended up spending two weeks with a full crew completing all these jobs.

As always the baby vines got a little wool protection so over motivated rabbits don’t eat them up straight away. And then a surprising early summer kicked in. With temperatures in the 30s and a still fairly moist soil the shoots exploded. Luckily we have a fabulous spring crew again and although it feels kind of weird green-pruning vines with shoots up to 60cm long we’ve been getting along well and the vines are in a great condition.

Of course there’s always a “but”. The water resources are coming to and end and as always the forecasted rain clouds split up just before they reach Kitzingen and go north and south but spare us. You can see growth slowing down now. Regarding the next jobs out there – suckering, tucking and weeding – that’s not too bad, for the baby vines it’s tough though and watering is becoming a likely job next week.

One last thing. As you might know our main focus is a living soil. for many years we’ve massively invested in it by bringing out compost, bokashi, rock dust, by letting the greening grow up to 2m high for the price of low yields. Every spring we tour our vineyards to inspect the soil and see what changed. This spade was the best I’ve ever seen. Not only that it’s crumbly until the very bottom, full of mycorrhiza and smells beautiful. The top bit has this chocolate color that just loudly yells “I AM HUMUS”. And this means better water storage capacities, more nutrition access for the roots of the vines more robustness and more CO2 that’s not in our atmosphere but int he soil. One of the best moments of the year.

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