Once again this is writing as therapy! I’m making notes for this blog as I sit looking out the window of our barn at our vines swaying gently in the breeze. Happily bobbing their heads in the warm, late summer / early autumn sunshine, then I wake up and look out the window, it’s blowing a bleedin’ gale out there. Winter comes early this far up the dale. If vines could have tin hats they would surely be wearing them now. Most of the vines are stretched, for self-protection, along the wire (at this stage they should be tied vertically to the bamboo canes, i.e. up). They have mostly given up on this plan.  Gone with the flow so to speak and right now there’s plenty of that.

What the hell are we doing here? You can hear them talking among themselves, didn’t sign up for this. The problem is in windy conditions and, as I’ve said before, we have plenty of that, the fact that the vines now have leaves (some until now what we regarded as encouragingly large), plus the sail like quality of the plastic tubes added to the fact that the string that attaches the cane to the top wire rots remarkably quickly leaving the cane all too free to bend with the wind, what a charming phrase, hardly describes what’s happening right now. All this means is that our vineyard definitely is left leaning. And right now they look closer to leaving than leaning.

We had come up to the vineyard with the hope of belatedly spraying some Miracle Grow on to the leaves. We’re doing this because at yesterday’s meeting our more experienced ‘colleagues’ had told us that we needed to feed them thus. Previously we’d used chicken manure pellets, sharp intake of breath when we mentioned this to ‘colleagues’, you don’t want to do that, too much nitrogen makes the grass grow, they got that right.

I’ll tell you more of this meeting in my next blog for this one let’s stick with the continuing expose of our madness vis a vis the wind. Wind, you will remember from previous blog, being the enemy of vines. I will just say of yesterday’s meeting that I had a very helpful conversation with Ian about windbreaks and these surely will come but they’re not here now.

We spend what feels like a fruitless couple of hours trying to persuade the bamboo canes (how laughably frail they look now) to assume a mildly vertical stance then retie them. A totally tedious task (good to see I have not lost my alliterative powers). It is not easy because, at times, we can hardly stand in the biggest gusts but we stick it out. If we had carried on with the spraying plan the Miracle Grow would have landed in the next dale if it ever landed in this country. Holland looks promising! Does Holland need any Miracle Grow I wonder.

All this and it’s only the first of September, laugh I nearly went to Bradford as they say in these parts although I’m not quite sure why. We should never have let ourselves feel optimistic but we’d called in at our local(ish) excellent wine shop in Masham, Corks and Cases (www.corksandcases.com) and they pass the vineyard regularly when delivering and said nice things about how the vines were developing. A kind word helps when you’re insane. I’d even gone round to my farmer neighbour to talk to him about extending the vineyard – more ploughing, more posts and wire, that sort of thing. Fortunately he was out! This was before we got to our vineyard. Now I look at my windswept prairie with our vines trying their best to emulate the classic rolling tumbleweed and think of yesterday’s visit to the wonderfully neat, protected, well-tended ‘competition’ and feel a small tear form. No that’s the wind again.

And I haven’t even mentioned the moles, rabbits, deer (allegedly), sheep also possibly the enemy of vines. And that’s also not to mention the thistles, nettles, grass, etc. They will feature in a future blog. Now we know why the last owner sold us this land. It’s definitely challenging but I already have my mission statement type thing for our label – ‘from adversity, quality’ Brill, I can taste it now. And on that optimistic note I turn my eyes from the vineyard and go back to reading the papers.

Boy, I bet you wish you had a vineyard.

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