It sure has been a crazy couple of weeks. So many wonderful places are temporarily closing and much of the country, and even the world, has ground to a near standstill.
But not everything stops.
Spring is still coming, the birds have begun chirping, and the grass is beginning to turn green again. Wisconsin’s farmers will still plant, the cows will still be milked, and the vines at Wollersheim will continue to flourish as they have for nearly 50 years.
“Farming doesn’t stop,” stated Philippe, our Winemaker. “The dairy farmer can’t tell the cows to stop producing milk, and we can’t tell the vines to take a break.”
The vines here are off to a pleasing start overall. We are still seeing some lingering effects from the deep freeze and untimely frost from the winter before last, but our hardy varietals have bounced back nicely and are looking healthy as they begin the new growing season.
Last year we removed a section of one of our vineyards just down the road from Wollersheim. This coming year the ground where that vineyard once stood will be rested and planted with a cover crop until it is again ready to be replanted with grapevines in the Spring of 2021.
We still have a little over five acres to prune as of the final full week of March, but with our small crew and less traffic during the day, we are allocating our resources to get the job done in a timely fashion.
Upon being pruned, it is common to see vines weeping sap. The “bleeding” or “crying” vine is simply a reaction of water and sap pressing against the freshly opened cut. This process can last upwards of two weeks depending conditions.
“There is an old French saying, ‘La vigne pleure’, which means the crying vine,” Philippe noted. “It doesn’t hurt the vines or cause any real damage to the plant, but in France (and Wisconsin) it is a sure sign that Spring has arrived.”
This early in the season is always too soon to say how good the crop and resulting wine will be relative to other notable years and vintages, as we still have to get through the critical frost season here in Wisconsin, which sometimes doesn’t peak until the beginning of May.
Every year is full of its own set of challenges and hurdles, but as farmers we have learned that while you can’t control the world or the weather, you can control how you react to it. Without the rain there would be no rainbows and without winter the bliss of summer would never be the same.