This time of the year there is a momentary lull in cellar activity providing enough time to return to the vineyard work. Yesterday, a gorgeous, blue-sky, day with a light breeze and perfect springtime temperatures, was my day to work in the vineyard.
The Brickyard Hill Vineyard, whose name was as you might imagine, was derived from an nearby old brickyard that sat adjacent to the vineyard. On this beautiful day, three of us were roving through the vines, row after row, removing suckers (i.e., the unwanted shoots sprouting up from the trunk and other undesirable locations) and securing the cordons (i.e., the horizontal "branches" of the vine from where shoots grow the fruit) to the wire.
Gloved and dressed in early summer gear, in one hand I hold a pair of pruning shears, while in the other hand a tool designed to dispense plastic tape to coax the cordon to grow along the wire. This awkwardly engineered tool resembles a freakishly large stapler on steroids.
Walking up and down the rows, removing suckers by flicking them off or when too large, cutting them with my pruning shears is meditative. The late winter pruning, cutting back last years growth to prepare for this years is looked at again to make sure the plants are poised for optimal fruiting. Adjust, tape, snip, and move on. Next plant. Adjust, tape, staple, snip, and move on.
Each of us work at our own pace, beginning at the end of a row and working our way down. Some are more experienced and breeze through the vineyard while others are thorough and move more slowly (at least that's what I'm telling myself). We speak infrequently. Mostly quiet in the vineyard.
I can hear the red wing blackbirds in the distance and the sound of excavators moving the dark Iowa earth where the winemaker is building his home. Another five or so acres will be added when his house is built adding to the nearly 13 acres in production.
Springtime in Iowa is rejuvenating and hard work in the vineyard is soothing.