Friday, May 8, 2009

Cabernet Down, Merlot to go...

We finished planting the Cabernet Sauvignon yesterday and started filling in the Merlot with new vines. The Merlot is planted up in what we call Block 5. (There used to be five vineyard blocks at Allegro--now there's only three.) The soil up there (at the furthest west and highest point in the vineyard) is much rockier (as Ray can attest to after digging holes for vines.) The Cabernet and Chard blocks had occasional rocks we had to deal with in the vine holes, but the Merlot field seems to be littered with them.

We took part in a vineyard soils workshop put on by Mark Chien (the state extension agent for winegrapes) in the summer of 2007. Paul Anamosa was the main presenter at for the two days of classes. We dug soil pits in two places in the property and were able to see some of the structure beneath our feet. I think we should have dug a third one, because of what we're seeing up in the Merlot holes. Turns out there's good reasons for why I like our grapes so much here at Allegro. We have a schisty/silty soil with lots of clay pockets, large amounts of iron in spots, and amazing drainage. The pits were six feet deep, and we didn't encounter any sort of hardpan or oher impediment to drainage. The expert from Napa thought these were good soils.

John and I talked numerous times about what makes Allegro different from most places. It was usually after a long day of work and involved a pizza and a couple bottles of Cadenza. He would throw out different ideas about the "poor soils" (for normal agriculture, meaning good for grapes), the southern slope, the airflow (or "winds of Broguandy" as he would call them), and the longer growing season (for Pennsylvania). After making wine here for twenty years, he still didn't know why Bacchus had smiled on this little plot of land. But smile he did. And so do we....

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