Wines Crafted in Amity, Oregon since 1987


Winemaker Musings | A Farmer's Epitaph


Winter starts the growing season in a vineyard. In January pruning begins by cutting away the foliage that produced the grapes in the year before. The future growth and crops depend on heavy pruning. With the next years crop in mind, many cuts are thoughtfully made, all but two canes must be cut. Working in a 44 year old vineyard, planted in 1971. Those canes must be wood grown in the past year, only close to the head. Last year's wood is buds alone, no grapes grew on those canes. Each bud orients on opposite sides of the cane, sliding your hand out the cane, you count ten buds then snip the eleventh bud diagonally to tie to the trellis wire. There are no easy decisions in an old vineyard. As the trunks get older, good canes at the top of the trunk, the head, gets fewer and fewer. Sadly all the canes you choose are not good canes. The original trunks are thicker than a Double Magnum. Some are healthy, some are worm ridden. Some are dead perhaps, next year with more effort.

The 70's were a turbulent exciting time for youth. We planted with a youthful exuberance and ignorance, and strong desire for a simpler life closer to clarity than our fathers, and in the full sun. Tendrils reaching up energetically, perhaps blindly into the sky. As the years pile up it is clear we did little that made a good vineyard. But the grapes grew anyway, and each mistake is still evident in the vines.

With sticks brought from Napa, 5 buds two buds up 3 buds down in the humus soil. We planted 10 ft rows, 8 foot spacing with the heads and bottom wire 12 inches from the ground. Many years later we realize optimal plantng is 4ft. rows 4 ft. spacing and heads 3ft. from the ground.

We planted.

Only this late in my life have I been able to work in the vineyard carelessly pruned by others for many years, increasing problems determined at planting and tractor blight caused by careless workers. In a few years with enough care, this small vineyard that will surely out live me, will speak well of me. If I have time left to improve my agricultural epitaph.

Grapes will grow and live despite different growers but each grower has left his spirit in the patterns of the growth, and will live on in the vineyard. People who grow and work the earth with their hands go straight to heaven.