What a month of upheaval it’s been! It seems every time I sit down to write this, there are new developments that outdate or make moot what I planned to communicate. So, with this in mind, I’ll start where I was thinking and go from there.
Since the fires of 2019 there has been a lot of activity in the hills above Alexander Valley. Chainsaws and chippers have droned on endlessly through the winter. Recently, excavators and large trucks have been scooping away the rubble from the neighbor’s destroyed home in preparation to eventually rebuild what the fire had destroyed. In the vineyards, this time is devoted to pruning the ‘dormant’ vines.
At 93 years of age, my dad announced early this winter that he was probably not going to prune the old Zinfandel vineyard any longer. He has been doing this task pretty much single handedly since the 1970’s, when he took it over from his father who had planted them in 1912. As a teenager, I was taught to prune there as well. It requires a thoughtful hand as each vine is different in its needs and likely to differ from those around it. Over the past handful of years, my dad has been systematically rebuilding the permanent structures of these vines as, after a hundred years, parts have succumbed to decay. This means leaving a healthy ‘cane’ (last year’s shoot) from a lower and solidly connected part of the vine trunk. The cane is then tied to a new stake for support during the years it takes to thicken and become self-supporting. This is a long-term project and there are vines in various stages of this rebuilding since you don’t always have an appropriate cane to leave the first year you see the need for renewal. Since my dad said he was probably not going to prune the old vines, I volunteered to prune them this winter with a request: That my dad make sure I understood his thought process in the rebuilding/restructuring project because it is working really well. As we worked our way through pruning, it was great to see him prune many more than just the vines needed to educate me. It’s hard to stop doing what you love and great to see these plants that outlive us.
With all the uncertainty due to this new virus and its rapid rate of movement through the population we will all be facing rebuilding: relationships, supply chains, businesses and support systems for those most at risk of serious health complications and those out of work due to shutdowns. It’s been a couple generations since we have had to exercise our sense of social duty to a great degree in this country, so we may have to focus on rebuilding that as well. Right here, we are doing our best to continue to meet our own business obligations and your role is a vital piece of that. We are constantly working on different ideas of how to best accomplish all these things, especially in light of how the situation changes so rapidly. As during the sudden hardship of last fall’s fires and power outages, the answer is the same: Never give up. Start rebuilding.
You can download the complete newsletter here: Rebuilding