bench at the top of the vineyard

bench at the top of the vineyard

We’ve been doing peripheral things in the vineyard, this to compensate for a lack of actual grape growing. Putting in more benches to take advantage of the views, like the one at the top of the vineyard – see photo. August in the dales, ha. It’s windy and cold and, as a bonus, occasionally wet at the vineyard. You may not know much about grape growing but suffice it to say, none of the above are good for growing grapes. I wrote last month about the hailstorm that battered this area. We thought then that, at the time of bud burst, this would be a very bad thing for the vines and so far this is the way it has turned out. Very little sign of any flowers, the ones that precede the actual grapes.

They say misery loves company so our only hope now was that the rest of the Yorkshire vine growers were having an equally miserable time, but we daren’t ask. Then we received an Email from Ian at Laurel Wines in East Yorkshire suggesting a get together of the Yorkshire wine growers group. Given the above I didn’t fancy taking the risk of listening to how well everybody else was doing, so I sent the following email in return and after that I’ve included the email chain that followed.

Hi Ian, sorry to be a party pooper but we’re going to have to blob on Sunday’s meeting. what with jobs in the vineyard (did you get hit by giant hailstones, we certainly did) and the continuing saga of clearing out my late mother’s house, we don’t seem to have much time.

From: Ian Sargent Sent: 20/07/2015 07:40 To: Peter Galvin Subject: RE: Yorkshire Summer Vineyard Meeting

Morning Peter I passed on your apologies and everyone sends their best wishes. I think there is quite a variation on vineyard performance over the past few months with frost and hail problems and then general performance issues but on the whole probably better than last year but there is plenty of time for it to go wrong?

As I have not seen your vineyard have you any photographs that you could share with me, I wanted to put together a little montage of photos of northern vineyard (not for any real purpose) but people are interested in what is going on up north? If not then no problem. 

I hope flowering is or has gone well? And that all performs as well as you hope. We are looking at putting a couple of kites up when the time arises to deter the birds (something similar to the link below) we will see how they perform?

I sent Ian our best pictures and the following email,

From: Peter galvin [] Sent: 22 July 2015 07:13

Hi Ian glad the meeting went well. This is one of nicest photos and you can’t see the wind! Any good? I have others.

he replied

Morning Peter that is great, what a great view, you could sell that view!!! And the vines look great. How are things going with this year’s flowers and fruit set? Ian

I replied

Welll.. I don’t have any flowers which is obviously a worry, we are a lot later this year anyway and the hail storm didn’t help and may even have been terminal! So it’s a bit of a problem but it may mean we don’t need to worry about the birds. If we get fruit I will check out your link. Hope things continue to go well.

PS I was rather glad we weren’t there listening to how well things are going for everybody else in the group that is doubly depressing!

Ian replied

Hi Peter sorry I may have painted a too rosy picture, I think that Alan got hit with a severe frost which wiped out quite a lot of his buds. Chris & Gilliam had a touch of frost which caused some damage but hopefully not too much. Henry was a little like yourself and hadn’t really seen much in the way of flowers, so I don’t think that you should be disheartened.

All the best Ian

To which I replied something like thank f—k for that. I feel better now. So yes, some small comfort from the tales of others in the region. In the meantime we continue with all the usual tasks in the vain hope that it might be to some purpose. We’ve been de-suckering and tying up the top shoots. I have to confess I’ve paid one of my neighbours a few quid to strim between the rows. As I’ve probably already said, strimming looks like a lot of fun when you’re watching somebody else do it but it’s pain in the bum when you have to do half an acre of very rough grass on your own. Funny though because before we started this vineyard business, I thought that I would enjoy a bit of gentle strimming, wrong, very wrong. We were going to spray leaf fertiliser on our last visit but it was so windy that we would only have fertilised our neighbours field. So it’s back to my line about this being an experimental vineyard and hence we live and learn a little more each year. The slightly dispiriting thing we’ve learned this year is that last year, which we didn’t think was that great was, by  comparison with this year, a scorcher. So yes, in the absence of any really productive tasks in the actual vineyard, I’ve been doing some work on the buildings themselves, concreting steps and making path ways and the aforementioned bench placements. Quite enjoyable but it’s a shame, at this time of the year, we’re not more vineyard oriented.

So grape growing and retirement. It seemed like such a lovely idea when I contemplated the possibility 5 or 6 years ago. Now, like so much of my retirement time, so many of my activities, there turns out to be something of a sting in the tail. I’m only glad, unlike some of our fellow wine makers, this is not an actual business. Our financial well-being does not depend on producing wine, as it does for two or three others in our group. Right now I’ll stick to the gardening business I told you about last week and, if this year in the vineyard turns out to be another disaster, well, live and learn. Retirement is a funny business, not quite as I anticipated.





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