Pamo Valley Vineyards

Archives: June 2008

Planting the plants…

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Remember when you were a kid and the feeling you had when you woke up on Christmas morning?  Well that’s how we felt Saturday!  We were up and in the vineyard at 6:30am yesterday morning ready to go!  Mike started by putting soil amendments in the pre-dug holes. I started setting the plants out in each row accordingly to what varietal was being planted where. 

Oh, I never did mention the varietals we ended up getting!  We got Cabernet Sauvignon, Primitivo (Italian version of Zinfandel), Viogner and Orange Muscat.  The Viogner and Orange Muscat are a white grape. We are going out on a limb by trying these.  However there is a need for more white grapes in Ramona so we thought, what the heck.  Mom and Jeff got here around 7am and they started setting the plants out in each hole.  I started folding the grow tubes and setting them on the ground by each hole. 

John and Alan York and grandma Ellie arrived around 8am to assist.  Alan and grandma started putting the bamboo stakes in all the holes.  John started the planting.  He wanted to get a method going so we would all be uniform and follow in his lead.  He did a good job and so did everybody else.  First John started, then I, then Alan, then mom and Jeff.  Alan kept saying, “this feels like, 99 bottles of beer on the wall”. Everytime you would look up from planting, the work was getting less and less. 

Grandma was spraying the plants with misted water while they waited their turn to get put in a hole and planted. It was starting to get very hot out.  Yay!  Here comes Dick and Mary York to help!  Mary had a sprained wrist so she was on light duty. She helped pick up all the empty pots that were left on the ground.  Then her and Dick helped with the planting. 

We couldn’t believe how fast this went.  We were done by 10:13am.  Mike had left to go into town to by some drinks and sandwiches for when we finished.  We all took a break and sat under a shade tree. 

Still waiting for Mike to return, we decided to finish up by getting our little red cups, filling them up with 15-15-15 fertilizer and walking the lines sprinkling a little bit around each basin of the plant.  Finally, we are finished with the job and Mike has returned with the goods!  Job well done team!







Buying the plants…

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Thursday morning (approx 9am) we headed out of Ramona on our way to Hughson, CA to pick up our much-awaited vines.  We packed up the dogs, toothbrushes and toothpaste, change of clothes and we were on our way.  Mike drove his truck with the enclosed trailer attached.  He had the trailer all rigged up with a fan, a table for double stacking and a mister to spray the plants each time we stopped.  We saw some amazing vineyards and almond trees planted over what seemed like millions of acres along the 5 north.  Here’s a picture taken from our cell phone. Way off in the distance you can see a vineyard.  We assumed all these vineyards were table grapes used for fruit and grapejuice. 

After making a few minor stops at the rest areas and gas stations, we finally arrived to Duarte Nursery around 6pm.  We knew they were closed but wanted to see where they were located and to see where the nearest hotel room was.  We were content that we knew where we were going first thing in the morning, found a hotel room and a great Mexican restaurant in a little town called Ceres. Ceres and Hughson are closest to Turlock and Modesto.  After we ate we went to the hotel room.  I think I crashed out around 7-8pm.  I was beat from the long drive.  Mike followed suit soon after. 

We had a good night’s sleep and were up at 6am on Friday morning.  Got ready, had breakfast in the hotel lobby and rushed over to the nursery by 8am. Duarte Nursery was very organized and the people were very nice. We basically pulled up, went to the office, paid our bill, went outside and there were our plants, on the bench ready for loading.  We had a little difficulty in the placement of the trays in the trailer.  It took a few times to get it right but after an hour of putting them in and taking them out, we finally got it.  Mike gave them their first spray and off we went! 

The next stop, Home Depot.  We found one somewhere between Los Banos and Fresno.  We loaded up with soil amendments and fertilizer for the big planting day tomorrow.  Of course I can never go into a Home Depot without sneaking in a plant or seeds.  I got a few
seed packets of lavender, cilantro, sweet basil and mint.  Need to increase my spice garden!  Actually, I’ve had this vision of planting lavender plants all along the outside rows of our new vineyard.  I love the purple flowers and think it would be a great accent to the vines.  Okay, we’re done from Home Depot.  

Now to continue the long drive home.  We were traveling well until we got stuck in Friday traffic at 5pm on the 210 and 5 South.  Eeeek!  This really held us up.  Not to worry, we enjoyed each other’s (and the dogs) company along the stop and go traffic.  Did I mention we picked up another 420 plants for a neighboring vineyard?  Once we finally got into Ramona, about 8pm we made our last stop to Pyramid Winery down the road.  Don was very happy that we were able to pick up his plants on our trip. We helped him unload and were off to home.  We got home around 9pm.  Mike unhooked the trailer and left it down in the vineyard, gave the plants one last spray of water and turned on the irrigation for a while to get the holes moist for tomorrow’s planting.  Ahh… a glass of cabernet sauvignon (or two) and we were out for the night. We traveled over 900 miles in two days. It was a great trip and I look forward to doing it again next year!

Last of the ordering…

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Today I ordered 500 –  ½’x 6’ bamboo stakes from Jim’s Supply in Bakersfield, CA. A nice gentleman by the name of Elijah was very helpful. I also ordered 500 grow tubes from Cameron & Cameron somewhere near Santa Rosa, CA. Sam Casenelli of Novavine referred us to a fellow named Jerry.  Jerry was very on top of things and took our order.  Both items are due to arrive on Friday. Sam at Novavine was a very good customer service/sales rep and I had a nice experience dealing with him. Unfortunately the plants we initially wanted were not available at the time we needed them so we were forced to go to Duarte Nursery in Hughson, CA (somewhere in the Central Valley, I believe close to Modesto, CA). Anyhow, the receptionist who answered the phone at Duarte Nursery was extremely efficient. She faxed me a list of available vines literally as soon as I got off the phone with her.  I called them back within 20 mins to place my order for the selected vines.  A lady named Carrie in customer service was really great too.  She was able to get me an estimate almost immediately.  She was very empathetic with me.  I expressed the urgency (and stress) of the order and wanted to make 100% certain that all the plants I needed were in stock and that they would be available for pickup on Friday. Sure assured me that indeed they would be.  Pulling all this together has not necessarily proved to be the easiest of tasks. But given my past “project manager” experience, to this point I feel confident that everything is going to work as planned.  Mike has been great in getting the vineyard, irrigation, holes etc ready. Ordering of the stakes, tubes have been smooth.  I got the time off work, the plants are ready for pickup Friday @ 8am and the team is lined up for planting first thing Saturday morning. I’m stoked!  Now the journey to pick up the much-awaited plants!  Mike has the 5×12-enclosed trailer all rigged up for double stacking (we are picking up another local wineries, and family plants as well), a few fans are setup to keep it cool and we have a sprayer/mister as well.  We have a generator in the back of the truck to plug the electrical in to.  These will be the moist spoiled plants ever!  They will certainly have nice ride back to Ramona, CA and I bet they cant wait to get home and in the ground….

Digging the holes – Part 2

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I just came across some pictures that I should have published with the “Digging the Holes” post.  Anyway, after Mike dug the holes by hand with the post hole digger, he went back a few days later and drilled them with an auger (?).  The pictures show the length of the auger and how far he drilled down.  Approx 2 ft.  We wont plant the plants that deep but when we push the dirt back in the hole (abot a foot) it will give the plant some breathing room and better drainage.  The roots wont have to struggle so much to grow.

Temporary Irrigation Complete…

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The last few days we’ve managed to complete the temporary irrigation.  Yesterday we had a small foo-pah.  I (yes, I) put all 450 of the emitters (the things that drip the water out of the hose line onto the plant) in the wrong way.  While I was “down the hill” Mike unplugged and replugged them all in the proper way.  It was really cool to come home and sit and watch everything work the way it was supposed to. Our neighbors are getting excited about the vineyard going in.  They like to watch the progress and wave from across the street.  Some have come over and asked us questions about it.  I told Mike, the only thing missing now are the plants!  We plan to pick them up from Santa Rosa this week and plant on the weekend.  In the meantime, we have been watering the holes an hour a day to keep the ground moist and get them ready for the plants.  Pray for us that we get somewhat cooler weather for planting time! 

Digging the holes…

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  What a long, hot day.  It started with Mike digging holes for the plants early in the morning.  I decided to take the day off work and we both headed “down the hill” to pickup up some much needed irrigation supplies.  A good wine friend referred us to Hydroscape in Escondido.  I hate to shop “off the hill” but we are really on a tight budget with this project and I did my shopping around and was able to find some super prices.  We got 3,000 ft of drip line, pressure compensating emitters, couplings, etc. Had lunch in Escondido and anxiously returned home to get working again. Mike managed to dig 225 holes in 100 degree heat!  I got the easy job of going behind him and filling each hole with water (while getting a suntan of course).  The heat was making us cranky so I took a break and went into town to get some Tecate.  That seemed to take the pressure off a bit.  J By 4pm we were beat.  Mom and Jeff stopped by to marvel at our progress and have a few beers with us.  The following morning we noticed our holes were “off balance”.  Uggghhh!  Too many Tecates during the day I guess.  Poor Mike.  He’s such a professional and wanted it done right. So he remarked the holes that were off center and re-dug them to make them perfect.  And so he did.  When I got home from work he had completed all 451 holes (perfectly aligned) and started sawing off the tops of the galvanized endposts to make them all even.  Time for dinner and check in tomorrow!

Setting the posts…

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Yesterday Mike and Jose got an early start to setting the end posts.  It’s been in the mid 90’s all week so they started around 7:30am in hopes it would be cooler.  I came down to check the progress around 9:30am and they were halfway done putting the posts in the holes, filling with concrete and setting.  Mike asked me to go in to town and pickup several more 90lb Redicrete concrete bags from Ransom Bros. and to swing by HiWay Market to pickup a large bag of ice and a 12 pack of Tecate (for later of course).  I came back, dropped off the goods and was on my way to work for the day.  By the time I got home, the job had been done.  Mike said it took them about 5 hours to set the 40 posts.  I was hoping to come home to a Tecate but needless to say they were all gone.  Hey, if that’s what it takes to get the job done, I’m a happy gal!  Mike always takes care of me though, he had an ice cold Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale (great local San Diego brewery) waiting for me when I got home.  I took that down to ew and ah over the progress the boys had accomplished for the day.  Job well done Mike and Jose!

Preparing for a New Vineyard!

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This has proven to be a big undertaking and we haven’t actually even planted yet! We will be planting another micro-vineyard, approx 430 vines to start. It began with having to burn approx 7 tons of brush. This took us about 4 days to complete. We got a burn permit from our local fire dept. And then had to wait for a “burn” day. It was several weeks from when we actually got the permit. We had to get it extended a time or two. We got most of the pile burned Memorial Day weekend but created another big pile off to the side. We hope that this newly created pile will eventually turn to dirt or mulch and we can use it somewhere on the property. Mike used a bobcat with a claw (?) to break the BIG pile into several smaller ones prior to burning. This piece of equipment was very handy during this process. It also allowed us to rip out any additional dead brush on the property line left over from the Witch Creek Fire in October 08. Mike, who is very handy on these farm equipment toys (as I call them) was able to borrow a John Deere tractor from a good friend to do some more work. He’s been disking and rototilling the area and last night he graded it nice and smooth. We both agree that the soil is a dream come true. It’s so soft, sandy and as we call it “butter”. The area to be planted is roughly 110’ x 220’. Our row spacing is 6’x10’. Mike dug 40 holes yesterday and is preparing for 40 end posts (3” galvanized section) to be put in and cemented this week. Yay! After that the next step is to get 430 plant holes dug and ready for planting. I guess I better do my job and order the plants! Ahhh, but it’s not that easy. What to plant is the question. We want to be different and plant something that is somewhat of a rarity. I have my thoughts on certain varietys but it’s going to be a secret until I actually by them. I know, the suspense is killing you isnt it!?

And this is me writing a “post”

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So far in the screen I’m in, I don’t see a difference between writing a page and a post. I’m sure I will notice something when I get out of admin and go into live? I still get the error in “post screen” re adding images. Not to worry. Oh, I just noticed something called a “tag”. More to explore….

I’m a blogger now?

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This is my first go at doing this but I figured if I wanted to keep up with the Jones’s in this world, it had to be done! Bear with me while I feel my way through this… 😉